I was carefully tracking my pregnancy using online resources, apps, and books written by the best doctors. Still, nothing could really prepare me for the back pain I had. Elisha tried his best by giving me massages which was sweet.
Another thing that I hated were my cravings. It was like my body was having a battle. My back pain was telling me to lie down and my taste buds were telling me to get up and cook. I usually got up because I figured the cravings were all the things my baby wanted, and I wanted him or her to know that their mama was a good cook.
I was also still working. There was no reason for me not to. I was finally an elementary school teacher just like I’d always wanted to be. The children were perfect angels, save one or two, and I was almost certain their home lives weren’t so great. I’d try to make class as fun but educational as possible. We went over fractions using cookies and celebrated every holiday. I wanted to be forever imprinted in these kids’ brains.
As the birth of the baby came closer, I began to have “false alarms”. Elisha and I considered ourselves prepared but every time it happened we’d feel a wave of panic wash over us. I’d just gotten done eating an entire plate of cookies when my water broke and there was no denying what was happening. Unfortunately, Elisha was out at the theater working hard for a promotion. I had to call him from work to come pick me up and take me to the hopsital. I was extremely anxious the entire way. I wasn’t going to leave the hospital the same person, and we weren’t going to be the same family. From that point on I knew I’d be responsible for another life and helping a person develop. The thought of it made me cry. I was in labor for hours then I finally heard the wail of a newborn baby. My son was finally here.
He had his father’s blond hair, and he was so beautiful and tiny. We named him Raymond after Elisha’s grandfather. The nursery we decorated was very simple but it was adorable and comforting. The first night we brought him home, both Elisha and I took turns just standing over the crib and watching our baby sleep. He was a perfect little angel. Eventually, we had to crawl into bed even though we’d only get a few hours of sleep at best.
“Isn’t he perfect?” I whispered in the dark room to my husband. “He looks so much like you, Elisha! It’s amazing.”
“Yea,” he agreed. “I can’t believe this is our life now.”
I loved being a mother. The weight gain, labor pains, and sleepless nights were all alright with me for the end result. I had made one of my greatest dreams come true! I had a family. Life had a funny way of changing things up but my… it sure worked out in the end. I spent the next six weeks really bonding with my baby boy the best I could. He was a quiet little guy with a serious face. It was very hard to make him laugh, but he had the cutest way of doing it after he spit up on me or when he pulled on hair. Elisha spent time with him before and after work. He was new to being a dad and new to being around children in general, but because we read books together and I gave him tips he was doing ok. My only wish was to have another one… I told Elisha as much. I had just gotten promoted and he was very close to getting a promotion as well.
“I’m not so sure I’m ready to have another baby so soon,” he said. I was surprised. I wondered why not? Raymond was an angel, so there was no reason why another child wouldn’t be.
“Why not? Give me one good reason,” I said defensively.
“Look, Junie. I love having a family. I do, but we have the future to think about. Let Raymond get a little older. We can save money in the meantime and-”
“But I want a little girl to complete things! I just want one more. This is very important to me. Your passion is your music, mine is children,” I began to cry. I knew he was probably right that more money would be better for us, but really, we would be fine and I knew it. He was such a perfectionist that he wanted a time and place and planning for everything. I didn’t want to do that, though, because I knew that my next child was supposed to be here and we would just make it work.
Elisha sighed and cut his eyes at me.
“We can try again for another child when Raymond turns three. I’m not budging on that, Junie. I love you and our small family so I want to make sure things go fine.”
That was that. I didn’t have a choice but to be patient, but my want for another child never dulled.
I was now teaching middle school, which was a little different. Some of the babies I had taught before were now looking lost and confused. There were crushes and sometimes crying in my class. They were older and beginning to go through a lot of firsts, so I tried to be there for them the best I could. Sometimes, rarely, I got tired of being around children and I just needed another adult to chat with. That’s where Ursula came in. We were so close and I was lucky to have her as a friend. She would sometimes watch Raymond while Elisha and I had a date night, and she would go on walks to the park with me while the baby was in his stroller.
“Can’t believe he’s two now!” Ursula said. He saw her looking his way and turned his head.
“He just woke up from his nap. He’s cranky,” I chuckled. Ursula just continued watching him.
“I’m ready to have more children,” I continued, ready to hear Ursula the Businesswoman’s response.
“I take it that you’ll be moving out of my mother’s house then?” she asked, which was reasonable. I nodded. There wouldn’t be enough room for a new baby, and we could now afford to settle down somewhere else. There would always be memories, but I was ready for a new place.
“That’ll be nice. I’m really happy for you. You’ve grown so much over the years,” she said, making me smile.
“Oh, Ursula that is just the sweetest th-”
“No. No, don’t get emotional! I’ve been in my office all day doing paperwork and arranging meetings. No tears. I actually need some fun today. Wanna bob for apples?”
I agreed wholeheartedly. Ursula and I giggled like teenagers while coming up for breaths of air. I checked frequently to make sure Raymond was nearby. He was just starting at us with a stoic look on his face. Poor baby was probably bored. I dunked my head back under the water quickly to try to retrieve an apple. Maybe a little too quick, though. I began coughing loudly.
“Water… down… the wrong pipe,” I said while gasping for air.
“You ok, girl? Don’t need you to drown?” Ursula asked with a concerned look.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m ok. Let’s keep going!”
Raymond’s interest grew as he began to smile and clap while we continued our fun.
Eventually, though it got cold outside and we had to return to our lives as adults. I bundled Raymond up in my arms and hailed a cab.
“Now tomorrow, we’ll get started on learing how to talk so that mama can hear your sweet little thoughts, ok?” I smiled at him. He stared back nonchalantly.
The night ended with Elisha and I making love. It was fantastic. It was time for us to have another baby. Ray was already growing up faster than I wanted. I was stuck between wanting to see him become a successful young man to wanting to hold him in my arms as he stared up at me. I wanted the chance to kiss a baby again.
The next morning I woke up early due to my phone ringing.
4 missed calls it read.
“Junie Kay speaking,” I said sleepily after I heard a hello. I checked the time. It was seven in the morning, so it was time for me to get up anyway.
“Hi, Ms. Kay. This is Marissa Langston at Twinbrook Hospital. I am calling to give some bad news.”
My heart pounded as I could only think of mama. I had seen her twice in the past month. I wanted her to be around more often, but she kept her distance more and more. My stomach dropped. What if something had happened to her because I wasn’t there?
“What happened? Hello?” I said, anxious to hear an answer.
“Ms. Kay… I regret to inform you that your mother, Ms. Greta Kay, passed away earlier this morning. She was diagnosed with overian cancer about two weeks ago. She was in her final stage. I am so sorry for your loss.”
Long after he hung up I kept the phone to my ear as I had a meltdown internally. I could hear Elisha warming up leftovers for himself in the kitchen and Raymond began to make noise in his crib, but I could only think about the last phone call I had made to my mother and how I’d never see her again. I let out a loud scream and threw my phone against the wall before crumpling to the floor. I wasn’t sure if this was something I could handle.