Holding him in my arms gave me a feeling I couldn’t define. Every time I thought I’d found the word, it suddenly felt lacking or not big enough. People had told me it would be like this, but still, I wasn’t prepared.

Who could prepare for one tiny being to change their entire life? I'd known I had a baby coming. I’d known for more than eight months, but he’s everything I imagined and so much more. He is precious beyond words.

I don’t want to let go of him. The nurses hover much too long. Since they won’t let me hold him while they push on my stomach or take my blood pressure, I get anxious. And if he cries, I feel ten times more concerned than ever before.

To be honest, I wasn’t too sure about having a baby. I mean, I’m only twenty-one, but my husband of three years decided it was time. He wanted a baby. He’d predicted it would be a boy, and he demanded the child be named after him.

I’d had bigger plans for my life. Before I had children, I wanted to finish my degree. Though I’d managed to take enough college credits to earn an associate’s, I wanted to get my bachelor’s so I could teach.

Or did I? Did it even matter anymore?

Watching his tiny fist wave in the air, and those little lips form a pout, I knew he was feeling agitated. It’s as if he knows I’m thinking about leaving him alone, and he doesn’t like that idea.

I laugh to myself as I pull his blanket tight around him and hug him tightly.

“Don’t worry, little boy. Mommy will always be here whenever you need me.”

“Who are you talking to?” asked my husband as he walked into the room.

“I’m talking to the baby. Who else?”

He’d always been jealous. I wondered if he would be one of those men who resented the baby. After all, he was about to lose a large part of my time. And I wouldn’t be focused on meeting his needs. Instead, I’d be concentrating on the little being in my arms.

As Mike approached the bed, he extended his. I felt maternal instincts wash over me. I didn’t want to give him my baby. I didn’t care that this little boy was fifty percent of the man standing at my bedside. I only knew I wanted to hold my baby and protect him from everything: especially this man who made my life a living hell.

My mood and hormones must’ve signaled something to the baby because he woke up and cried his tiny cry. “Don’t take him right now. Let me get him calmed down.”

“I can calm him, too. After all, I’m his father, right?”

For the first time, I wished I could say, ‘No, he’s not your baby,’ but that would be a lie. I’d never cheated on him. And I knew all too well what would’ve happened to me if I did. If I dared.

When he held the baby, I watched the little eyes open in surprise. I’m sure the baby could smell and feel someone different. Someone who wasn’t me.

And my little boy reacted exactly as I thought he would. Both minuscule fists went up in the air. He took a big hitching breath, and then he made his feelings known. I don’t think I’d heard him cry that loud since his arrival into the world.

Mike used his arms to make a rocking motion, and he sat down in the rocker. His face looked concerned and a tiny bit angry. I imagine it bothered him that his baby preferred me of all people.

Our marriage was rocky at best. It had been from the very beginning, and while I knew that the worst thing to do was to bring a baby into the mix, I felt pressured. So, I gave in.

My reward was a beautiful baby. And my curse was a beautiful baby.

I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to stay in the marriage. My spirit and heart hurt every day. Well, almost every day. Today, I felt on top of the world. I was invincible. Despite anything Mike thought about me, I was the person who gave him the child he desperately wanted. This was something he couldn’t do himself. He’d actually needed me for the first time during our marriage.

But as I watched him rock our son until he fell back to sleep, it suddenly occurred to me that Mike no longer needed me. My son did, but for how long?

“Hey, did they bring in the paperwork for the birth certificate?”

“Yeah, it’s over there on the nightstand. Why?”

“I want to watch you fill it out. I know you have some other ideas about what to name him. Didn’t you say something about Benjamin Lee?”

“I did. I don’t know if I want him to be a Junior. I think he needs his own name.”

“It will be his own name. The name will belong to him, and he’ll be proud of it.”

“Can I have him back? I miss him.”

“You held him all morning. Get those papers and fill them out.”

He was issuing orders, and though the only thing I wanted to do was get my baby back, I knew I had to do what he said. I could barely reach the papers where I was lying, so I swung my feet around and prepared to get out of bed for the first time since I’d given birth.

I had to catch myself on the nightstand. The dizziness came and went swiftly, but it scared me. I was grateful I wasn’t holding the baby. I just wished he were in the bassinette rather than Mike’s arms.

Leaning over to open the bottom drawer, I grabbed my purse before sitting back down. I felt tears threaten like a summer storm as I searched for a pen.

Finally, I was situated back in bed, and I had the tray over my legs. The form I needed to fill out blurred in front of me. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want to name him after Mike. I knew if I did, the little boy would somehow be more his than mine.

I held the pen poised in the air just a bit too long.

“What are you waiting for? It’s Michael Dulane Gaines, Junior. Did you forget my middle name or something?”

“No,” I said through clenched teeth. “I didn’t forget your name. I just need a minute.”

“Are you crying? Boy, I guess what they say about women and their hormones is true. Obviously, you’re too emotional to do this. Here, you take the baby. I’ll fill out the paperwork.”

My heart squeezed when Mike put my son back in my arms. I brought him close and kissed his forehead. I felt him relax as though he felt more comfortable now.

I watched with watery eyes as Mike took the pen and wrote Michael in the box for the first name. He filled in the rest until he got to ‘mother’s name.’

“Why do they want your maiden name? You don’t go by that anymore. You’re Mrs. Gaines.”

“They need an accurate accounting of where he comes from. He’s fifty percent of my family and me.”

“Poor kid. But the other fifty percent makes up for it.”

And it was done. For better or worse, my baby had a name.

“I’m going to call him Mikey,” I said. “That way, no one will get the two of you confused.”

“I guess that will be alright. Mikey, it is.”

August 22, 2020 10:27

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Louanne Ewald
14:05 Sep 09, 2020

Your story is a bittersweet look at the baby's birth into a troubled, abusive marriage. I felt the mixed emotions of the mother and saw the domination of the father. Most of all, I felt sad for the innocent baby brought into such a family. A thought-provoking story.


Mustang Patty
14:18 Sep 09, 2020

Thank you.


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Keerththan 😀
04:57 Sep 09, 2020

The emotions were conveyed wonderfully. What a story!!!! Really loved it. Your writing style is wonderful and so is your dialogues. Keep writing. Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks.


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M.W. Nel
20:07 Sep 03, 2020

Beautifully written. Tore at my heartstrings. Your story was brought to life through the words you wrote and I could feel her anxiety and pain and how trapped she felt. Though I really wish she took her baby and walked away.


Mustang Patty
08:12 Sep 04, 2020

Thank you so much. I wish she had taken her baby and walked away, too.


22:02 Sep 07, 2020

Taking Mikey away might have been a perfect plan but note that he came as a blessing and curse to the Gaines couple. Although it hurts, love prevails. I love this story and how the emotions of the mother are made real. That's excellent!


Mustang Patty
10:26 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you for your kind words about the story.


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A K Woodhouse
20:51 Aug 31, 2020

My reward was a beautiful baby. And my curse was a beautiful baby. I love this line. So very true.


Mustang Patty
23:02 Aug 31, 2020

Thank you


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Rayhan Hidayat
03:14 Aug 23, 2020

Very good. A bit of a distressing read, and the emotional complexity of the mother was spot on. I just hope to god this isn’t based on personal experience! 😣


Mustang Patty
08:16 Aug 23, 2020

hi, Unfortunately, it is. I think the scars are still hurting after 40 years.


Rayhan Hidayat
08:58 Aug 23, 2020

I am extremely sorry to hear that. Thank you for sharing with us this story, it really sheds light on the evil in this world.


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