IT ripped me apart. This thing I am holding. A tear so bad a fresh layer of blood was added to the artwork of already traumatic birth. It has been an over week and still peeing burns.
“There, there, don’t cry.” I rock IT, side to side, a figure of eight. “Is it food you want?”
My breasts are raw, torn to pieces by IT’s aggressive mouth, tongue, a fricking razor blade hidden inside. I whop them out, a part of me I once dressed in lace and satin. They now sag, reaching the rolls on stomach, and my nipples expand with every feed.
IT has got it, ‘latched on’ as the midwife says. I can breathe and I do just that. An elongated breath. I keep it in my throat, my chest cannot move. Position is everything, and IT is sucking perfectly. Fluid is being pulled out of me, like a vacuum cleaning up a messy floor.
There is light outside, peeking through the curtains. An alternative reality living behind the blinds. It only irradiates the changing table and bassinet. The pictures on the walls of sun-kissed beaches and my bikini body must remain in darkness.
Time has forgotten me; it no longer exists. There is no start when birds adorn the sky, and nascent rays of morning light sprinkle pockets of outside. And there is no end. No decision to say goodnight. Your eyes are falling into their sockets, your words make no sense and its dark so crawl into your bed and rest. It is just a confusing mess. A pattern changing by the hour.
“Are you done?”
IT pulls itself away from my chest, drugged up on liquid gold. IT’s eyelids cling together and other than IT’s chest pounding up and down, IT is still. Oh no, the midwife said to burp after a feed, but IT is asleep, ready for the bassinet and I am ready to lie on the sofa. My legs stretching, hanging off the edge. I must do what she says otherwise IT in discomfort, pain and piercing screams and for me, torture.
I struggle to my feet. IT’s eyes remain closed, but a there is a slight movement in IT’s face. Just do this. Holding IT’s head in my palm, I move IT over my shoulder and tap, a pitter patter in my fingers hitting IT’s back.
Silence. Not silence, car engines are growling and trucks are beeping, reversing into tight spots, but IT is silent. Is IT dead? I killed my baby. My left hand works quickly to position itself on IT’s chest and it is moving, its tiny heart thumping, and I feel something. Not in IT, in me, a warmth caressing my stomach.
I release a sigh and with two strides I place IT, her, in the bassinet. The colourful crochet blanket, all stitched together in shades of flora, hangs over IT’s bed. How kind of the lady down the road to knit this for her, for IT. I reach for the blanket and wrap around the lower part of her miniature frame. Hands and face free, that’s what the antenatal classes teach.
IT is cute, a squashed creature with velvet skin and pink like the roses in my garden. And IT’s smell, milk mixed with honey. Oh, this is a trick, biological deception to forget the pain IT has caused me. Stealing me from who I am and forcing me inside, wounding my body and playing games with my mind. How dare IT?
I wobble over to the sofa and sprawl out. My stomach grumbles, but eyes are fighting to close, and they win. It is not quite sleep and not quite reality. A place in the middle, where memories reappear. I am back, lying helpless on a bed. Overpowering lights zoom down on me and blue scrubs and animated faces hover around me. They are pink like IT and they yell at me. Soundless screams with clenched jaws and wide eyes. He is there, tears rolling down his cheeks and his bottom lip quivering. I turn away from him, away from the yells, towards a beeping machine with flickering lights and jumpy lines. A calm face greets me. Her skin is the colour of rich oak with tawny undertones, and her whispers are powerful. The pain ripping through me is numbed from her voice and something happens. The animated faces soften and my husband, the man I married, opens his mouth. I see his tongue, even his tonsils.
The calm face rubs my shoulders, her fingers pressing into the bone. “Well done.” She says. “It is a girl.”
I don’t care to see IT. My eyes remain with my power source, the soothing face amongst the collage of despair. Her deep brown eyes are enchanting, they hypnotise me. I move in closer. Her chest brushes my side and her name badge rests against my arm. Itari, what a beautiful name.
A penetrating scream slaps my ears, and I jump from the sofa. The room is dark, infested with shadows. I search for IT, for her, my heart beating wildly as I stagger around looking for IT. My hands assist me, they are my eyes. They stumble on a lamp and I find IT, thrashing its arms around and IT’s crinkly face changing from pink to strawberry red.
“There, there.” I cup IT in my arms and press IT’s heart against my chest. Its screams fade, changing into whimpers. How much longer will life be like this?
There is not enough strength inside me to conjure up translucent liquid, and invisible tears fall from my eyes. The emotions are there. Sadness, loneliness, the terrifying future awaiting me and this thing I must love.
I return to the sofa with IT in my arms, warming as my grip tightens. IT’s tiny fingers curl and IT’s mouth gnaws the air.
“Hey, how are we?” He stands at the doorway, a part of IT. His eyes are bright and sparkle in the soft light and his smile reaches his ears. He rushes over to see us. Sorry not us, just IT. He takes IT from me, and I feel like my heart is being yanked from my chest. IT does not want him, and IT reignites its screams.
“What should I do?” He stutters, his arms shaking.
It is an instant reaction, like a reflex in my body. I fly out of my seat and take IT off him, placing IT’s head in the crook of my elbow and she stops. Her eyes open, smiling at me. I search for shades of blue, but all I see are swirls of earthy browns colliding with autumn hues.
He sits down on a chair away from us, from IT. His smile sticks to his lips, but his eyes droop. Don’t worry, I feel just as useless.
“How was your day?” He peruses my face for hope, for some inclination that everything is okay.
“My day was wonderful.” I lie. It is an expressionless lie and not even my lips move.
“Have you thought about a name?” He asks, lowering his voice.
I gaze down at her, at the brown in her eyes staring up at me. I wasn’t expecting that. IT’s tongue slips out of its mouth, IT’s floppy head moves around and she gurgles. How adorable, a heart-rendering sound pulling on my emotions.
“Itari.” I reply. “Itari is her name.”
He is smart, my husband, a wise man. He looks at me, his nose trapping his breath and his eyelashes flickering.
“Itari.” He gasps. “Beautiful. It is of Aztec origin and it means Princess of the sun.”
“Yes.” I smile. “She was my beam of light.” My fingers rub the soft cheeks of my daughter. Of my Itari.