Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By OFW editor:
Published: October 16, 2013
By Laura Riley
I need some quiet; a moment of peace. Please, please stop. Why are you doing this? What am I doing wrong?
I tell myself she’s just a baby. She’s not doing it on purpose, but why in the world would she fight off glorious, beautiful, sleep?
Shut the hell up! Stop crying for just five minutes! I can’t even hear myself think!
The crying is unrelenting.
What do you want from me? I've tried everything I can think of. What do you need? What can I do to make you shut up and sleep?
Bouncing. Rocking. Singing lullabies. These are my days and nights. Anything to get me a few moments of silence, but moments are all I seem to get.
Drop her. Throw her. Shake her. Just shut her up.
No. That’s insane. How could I even think that? I am a horrible mother. She isn’t doing this on purpose. She’s a baby. I'm nuts.
My better judgment spends most of the time shouting down my vicious and unfeeling demons. I don’t know how long it will be before my good side loses the battle with the darkness that threatens to smother my conscience.
Passing a mirror in the hallway, I pause at the stranger looking back at me. Her face is bloated and lined; a mere echo of my former self. Once radiant and smiling, my eyes are now heavy and with each blink the temptation to keep them shut tortures me. The person that I used to be is gone.
Apart from nursing and stolen seconds of sleep, the only time that she is quiet is when I take her for a walk. It is freezing outside, so I can't do this often. A walk in the bleak, dead winter doesn’t do much to revive my spirits, but I need the quiet. Giving my ears a rest and my head a chance to regroup, I load her into the stroller and head out.
“She is precious and so well-behaved. Congratulations, you must be so proud. How are you finding motherhood?” my elderly neighbor clucks happily, briefly interrupting her morning walk with her terrier.
“Yes, she is a blessing. I love being a mother,” I lie. I know what people want to hear. I do my best to shore up the cracking veneer of contentment that I plaster on my face for their eyes.
As I walk, I contemplate telling my husband how bad things are when he isn’t around. How do you tell someone that you think the things that no mother should think? Saying them out loud makes them more than just thoughts.
“Hey honey, I thought about killing the baby today. Don't worry, it's not the first time I've thought it, but it is more tempting every day. How are things at the office?” I don’t think so.
He’ll take her away. He'll hate me.
Definitely not. This will pass. It’s just baby blues. Everyone goes through this. It will pass and I will have scared him for nothing. I'm behaving like a baby myself. I have to stop feeling sorry and be a mother.
Make her be quiet! I’ve told you it doesn’t matter how. Just...do it.
I only need an hour or two. Two months without sleep has finally driven my sense of reason to a place where it can no longer be heard. It probably left in search of quiet. Sweet, peaceful quiet.
She’ll feel better after she sleeps. If you make her sleep, she'll understand.
She will. Won't she? Yes. We’ll both feel better when it’s quiet.
Oh God, I need help.
I'll call the doctor in the morning. She’ll prescribe something. Xanax. Zoloft. Prozac. Something to get through this. For now, I just need get through the night.
Okay. That’s what I’ll do. The doctor will know how to fix this. Know how to make me stop thinking these horrible things.
I pick up the plush monogrammed quilt from the side of the crib, a gift from someone, but I can't remember who. It's softness tickles my hands as I ball it up and lift it over the rail of the crib. "Shh, baby."
The piercing cries are muffled and the room spins. Yes, she'll sleep and we'll go to the doctor tomorrow.
The house is silent. Darkness clouds my thoughts and I feel myself slipping to the floor. She is finally quiet.
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