Tuesday 7 February 2012

Chubby Little Cheeks

Sarah Bakewell


Here he is. He’s perfect. My little boy, my first child, my son. Here in my arms. I could hold him forever. All the pain I experienced bringing him into this world is now irrelevant, forgotten. I’m engulfed by love. I feel nothing other than love for my baby boy. My surroundings have faded into nothing; they do not matter. Nothing matters other than him now. Just my son.
He has a mop of thick, black hair, like his father. His small eyes are shut, but he has beautifully long eyelashes. I long to see his eyes, no doubt they will be as perfect as the rest of him, but I dare not disturb him simply to see whose eyes he has inherited; grey-green, like mine, or bright, sparkling blue, like his father? He has an adorable button nose with a tiny beauty spot just underneath his left nostril. His ears are quite dainty. He has a small closed mouth and chubby little cheeks. His baby skin is so new and fresh, so smooth. He smells delicious. I hold him close to me.
He has five perfect fingers on each squishy hand, and five tiny toes on each miniature foot. So delicate and fragile. His perfectly formed arms lay crossed on his rounded stomach underneath his blanket. He has inherited the long leg gene of the other males on my side of the family.
My baby is beautiful. He is perfect. His eyes remain shut.
My surroundings slowly begin to drift back into place as muttered conversation disturbs the peaceful world which only my son and I share. I want to look up and shout at whoever has interrupted such a precious moment but I cannot take my eyes away from my son. How can I look away? My anger is washed away in an instant; I continue to stare at him. His eyes do not flicker.
I steal away from thoughts of my son growing up and try to re-piece my scenery, although I do not remove my eyes from my baby. I am still in my hospital bed in a delivery room. It is dark outside - I cannot remember if it was light when I delivered my baby. I could have been sat here silently for hours, just holding my son. I recognise the hushed tones of my husband near the foot of my bed and a female voice I do not. Perhaps the midwife is still here? I can’t think why she would be.
I think of my son’s room waiting for him at home. My husband’s study is now barely identifiable; a shade of canary yellow occupies the previously cream walls, with an additional colourful border of farmyard animals. The small wooden cot situated against a wall adjacent to the window is filled with soft toys and blankets. A baby monitor is attached to one of the bars with its partner on my bedside table. The shelving unit opposite the cot, once home to my husband’s various work related files, folders and papers now stores nappies, dummies, clothes, bottles, bibs… Anything my baby could need. The room needs to have a baby in it.
‘I’d like to take him home now,’ I say quietly but firmly, still not taking my eyes off him. A heavy silence fills the room. I hear the slow, steady footsteps of my husband as he walks up to the head of the bed where I sit in my hospital gown, propped up by two pillows, holding his son. Our son. My son.
‘Darling…’ he struggles to find anymore words, so instead, places a hand on my shoulder and gives it a squeeze. I painfully tear my gaze away from my son to look up at my husband. His usually bright blue eyes have lost their sparkle. They glisten with tears. They look sore, as if he’s been crying for some time. He looks distraught, exhausted, and apologetic.
‘I’d like to take my son home now, please,’ I say to him calmly, looking deep into his magnificent blue eyes before turning my attention back to my baby. He hasn’t moved.
‘I’m so sorry,’ whispers the midwife, ‘but you can’t take him home.’
I look up at her, suddenly furious, cradling my son tightly to my chest. Who is she to deny this simple wish? I study the woman who believes she can prevent me from taking my baby home. She is a plump woman, rather short, with tight mousey brown curls. She too looks as though she has been crying. A tell-tale tear escapes from one of her small puffy red eyes and glides silently down her rosy cheek. I am his mother. And I want to take him home.
‘He is my baby. My son. He’s coming home with me.’
‘Sweetheart…’ begins my husband, but again words fail him. He eventually settles with, ‘I’m so sorry.’
I look from my husband to the midwife and back again, then I look at my baby boy again. He lies in my arms perfectly still, in the same position as before. His eyes are shut.
I cannot let go of my son. How can anybody seriously suggest that I leave him here? I’m his mother. He is not staying here. I need him. I love him. He is mine. My perfect little boy.
They’ve given up. I have not. I can’t let him go. He is mine; he grew from nothing inside me. I felt him moving and wriggling and kicking. They don’t understand.

Since he was born, he has not opened his eyes, nor moved, nor cried. My newborn baby has not cried. He never will. I will never hear his cry. He will never look at his mother. He will never open his eyes. My perfectly formed, beautiful baby boy does not have a heartbeat anymore. His first breath will never come. I cannot let him go, because I’m afraid I will never hold him again.
I cradle my baby tightly and cry.

Bio: Sarah Bakewell is a 21 year old English and Creative Writing student at the University of Salford. She has had a passion for writing since childhood and enjoys reading and writing snappy, short pieces of fiction. 'Chubby Little Cheeks' is her first published short story.

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