Chapter 1 - A Baby is Made
An ecstatic pleasure bubbled up from the depths of Emily’s belly through the top of her skull. Covered in a cool sweat, she marveled at the powerful, yet subtle, current flowing through her. While thoughts continued to swirl in her mind, none had the ability to control her.
She slowly opened her eyes to gaze upon little Zeke. Everything about her baby was perfect.
Emily shook her head ever so gently. She wondered where the magic of this moment had come from, since she ordinarily spent this time during his evening feed either lost in worry or nodding to sleep.
Doubt swept the joy away as a sadness swelled in her throat. Isn’t it always supposed to feel like this?!
There’d always been an invisible distance standing between mother and son. But tonight, Emily had a strong sense they’d both journeyed through heaven and hell to find each other in this most unremarkable of places.
Emily smiled brightly. Zeke smiled back. The current returned and the world faded away once more as mother and son rocked together and mirrored each other’s silly faces. Each was fully sated on the other’s pleasure.
A curious musing arose. After a lifetime of believing motherhood to be the most unfair sacrifice a woman could make, something had transformed her from the inside out. While she couldn’t put her finger on what it was, she was endlessly grateful for its arrival.
Suddenly, her mouth pulled taught with anxiety. It had been just last night she’d ruminated for hours over how this adorable little child had destroyed everything she held dear. Even with her life in shambles, he still sat with his arms stretched wide screaming for her louder than ever. Emily could either pick him up and hold him tightly or leave him be and get to work on fitting the pieces of her broken life back together.
Her jaw clenched firmly at the memory. After spending the first 18 months of his life clinging to the idea she could do both, Life had forced the choice upon her. Without the slightest hesitation, she had chosen Zeke.
Tears streamed down her cheeks she didn’t bother to wipe. Emily took strength from this subtle act of rebellion as her attention shifted to the emergence of a lovely flood of energy emanating outward from the base of her skull. Her body buzzed as it produced the most cleansing of tears.
She watched in reverence as the fluid accumulated at the tip of her nose, readying itself for the inevitable descent. A smile formed across her face, prompting the first tear to drop. Just as it was about to saturate Zeke’s nose, Emily was ripped away from her son.
Panic stricken, her eyes shot open as she searched the darkness in vain for something familiar. With chest in throat, Emily sat up and wiped her heavily saturated face.
“Em, is everything ok?” A deep voice called for her.
Her eyes adjusted to find her husband Walter sitting up against the headboard. She scooted up next to him and nuzzled her head into his massive chest. The feel of his firm embrace invited her to melt in his power.
Walter repeated himself. “Seriously Em, is everything ok?” He waited for an answer that didn’t arrive before speaking again. “You were crying in your sleep.”
“I’m quite alright Walter.” Emily replied with surprising assurance.
“Are you sure darling? It seemed like you were having a bad dream.”
Emily shook her head against his chest. “No, no. It was nothing like that. I know I must’ve been sleeping, but what I experienced felt just as real as right now.”
“Hmmmm.” Walter paused for a moment before continuing. “Was it sad wherever you were?”
“No. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was happy in a way I didn’t know was possible. I don’t know how to describe it really, other than to say it felt like life was perfect exactly as it was.”
“If it was so great, then why were you crying?”
Emily smiled to herself. “You’re going to laugh.”
“Good! You know how I love to laugh!” Walter cheerfully joked.
“Ok, so I was rocking a baby to sleep.”
Walter shuffled to the edge of the bed to turn on the nightstand lamp. He looked at her in cautious excitement. “Wait, Did I hear that right? Did you say you were rocking a baby?”
Giddy with joy, Emily nodded. “I know, right!? It’s kind of hard to believe, isn’t it?”
“Do you have any idea who’s baby it was?” She sensed anticipation in his voice.
Emily closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. “See that’s the crazy part. I remember every detail of the moment and all those leading up it as if it had happened in real life. Isn’t that strange?”
Walter nodded. “And?!”
“Well, the baby was mine. I mean, he was our’s. His name was Ezekiel, but we called him Zeke for short. I was rocking him to sleep in our guest room, which we’d converted into a lovely little nursery. I was just staring at his beautiful little face and it filled me with this indescribable happiness.”
“Just how far into the future were you?”
“Not far at all.” She winked wickedly. “I even know exactly how we made him.”
Emily felt his desire descend upon her as his eyes widened hungrily. “Really? And how’s that?”
She pulled the sheets down to reveal her sheer nightgown, leaving little to the imagination. She crawled onto his lap to straddle his passion and pressed her finger firmly to his lips before speaking. “Shhh, no more words.”
Emily lay in an euphoric daze; her body tingling from head to toe. She leaned upon her forearm to gaze in awe at this dark mountain of a man who was the very embodiment of her deepest desire.
He stroked her hair and smiled. “I like this baby making business.”
His words pierced the delicate bubble of her rapture. Reality quickly seeped in through the hole. Intuitively, she knew they’d conceived in this very first attempt. With her attention lost within this heaviest of realizations, she responded distantly. “I’m sure you do.”
His eyes narrowed surprise. “Did I miss something?”
With a pit in her stomach, she shook her head. “Do you think I’m going to be a good mother?”
“Oh Em.” Walter replied with a sigh before begrudgingly sitting up and crossing his arms. “Is that really what matters to you right now?”
She took in a slow breath to calm her irritation. “Yes.”
He looked off into the distance for a moment. His eyes returned burdened with disappointed resignation. “I have no idea what it takes to be a great parent. Like anything else, I assume it’s something you learn on the job. But, I do remember my mother telling one of her girlfriends that right parenting is being led by the body and not the mind. Do you think you could do that?”
Emily’s face puckered to contain her sadness. “I’d like to say yes? But, the truth is, I don’t even know what that means!”
He tilted his head and frowned. “Sure you do.”
With a shrug of the shoulders she said. “If you say so.”
Walter smiled warmly. “This baby is going to be such a gift.”
“How’s that?” She replied in irritation.
“You’re going to see just how good it feels to let go of this illusion of perfection.”
She bit firmly on her bottom lip. “How’s that supposed to be a gift?”
With genuine curiosity he asked. “Tell me honestly Em, has this obsession with building the picture-perfect life made you any happier?”
Emily’s stomach sank as she considered the question. She bit her lip and shook her head.
Walter smiled widely. “Then why don’t you stop trying so damn hard?”
Triggered, she barked back. “That’s not possible.”
“And why not?”
“This is just the way I am.” Emily replied as she crossed her arms.
Seemingly amused by her aggression, Walter squeezed her thigh. “To what end darling? What would happen if you just let things unfold the way they were intended?”
“It would all fall apart.”
“My life.” The words floated in deafening silence.
She watched Walter’s eyes well with sadness as they considered the hurt he’d just unearthed. He spoke gently. “And is that such a bad thing?”
Emily turned away and buried her head into her hands. Between sniffles, she spoke. “Do you not like this life we’ve built together?”
Walter shuffled next to his wife and wrapped his arms around her. His hugs had always been magic. With a tone matching the masculine softness of his clutch, he spoke. “Em, darling, I’m living the life of my dreams so long as you’re in it. All of this other stuff we have is nice, but it’s meaningless without you.”
She wiped her tears and looked up to find certainty in his eyes. “How do you do that?”
“Act so self-assured. Like there’s nothing in this world that scares you.”
He kissed her forehead and smiled playfully. “Its my super power.”
Emily buried her face in his bare chest. She found intense comfort in the rhythm of his heart beat.
After what could have been five seconds or five minutes, Emily looked up. “Are you really not worried at all about what kind of dad you’ll be?”
Walter laughed softly. “No, not really. Should I be?”
With a childlike innocence she revealed only to Walter, Emily asked what was on her mind. “I know this sounds terrible, but its your parents’ blood that runs through you, not the blood of those saints who adopted you. Doesn’t that frighten you?”
She saw a flash of pain pass across his face before he smiled peacefully. “Em, blood or not, my birth parents don’t have an once of influence over me other than what I let them have. Besides, what I feel most for them is sympathy. I can’t even imagine how hard it must’ve been for them to give up their baby boy.“
Emily shook her head in disbelief. “I don’t get how you could possibly sympathize with them. I mean, what kind of monsters abandon their baby anyway?!” Emily felt a heaviness in her chest. “But my parents were even worse…” She paused, knowing better than to dive down that rabbit hole.
Walter seized the opportunity. “Em, for your sake, leave your parents out of this. They did the best they could.” He gently grabbed her shoulders and looked directly into her eyes. “They are not the boogeypeople you make them out to be. You are your own woman. I mean, look at this life you’ve built for yourself. Look at this amazing marriage we have. You’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever set your mind to. I have no doubt you’ll be an extraordinary mother.”
“You really think so?”
He smiled broadly. “I know so.”
Emily kissed his cheek. “Thank you Walter. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
He gave her a quick squeeze and scooted back to his side of the bed. “Shall we get some shut eye? If we’re gonna take this baby making business seriously, we’re gonna need to be well rested!” He winked back at her before turning off his bedside light.
Emily crawled under the covers and smiled. “Ha ha, you’re quite a joker Walter.”
“Thanks Em. Good night darling, I love you.”
“I love you too. Good night.”