Chet stared at the
small human who lay swaddled in his arms. His face paled.
The midwife grabbed
his elbow and led him to the rocking chair. She nearly had to push him into it.
As long as a father was seated, a baby had less risk of falling to the
Addison Tinsley had come into the world so quickly that Dorothys midwife,
who had been hastily called, had missed the birth. Not so the squad of
paramedics that Chet had summoned thereafter.
midwife shooed away those men and women trained to attend to unplanned,
out-of-hospital deliveries. To actualize their departure, she had had to flash
her formal papers at them and to remind them that no emergency had
bravehearts emptied dustbins and otherwise tied up Dorothy and Chets home
before leaving. It was imperative to them that their quick flight in an
ambulance had served some utility.
ascertained that Chet would rock gently so as to not drop the newborn, the
private health professional set about attending to Dorothy. No stiches or other
fixes were needed.
She led herself to
the couples kitchen, searched for a particular type of tea and then set a
kettle on the stove. New mothers need hydration, calories, and warmth.
Dorothy was cocooned
in multiple blankets. The midwifes assistant was enroute, having first
stopped at the midwifes house to load her car with some of the frozen
casseroles that the midwife kept for clients. In the immediate future, though,
the fledging mother needed just ample warm liquids and a shower.
A few hours later,
after the midwife was satisfied that Dorothy could void as well as make use of
her rear deck, and that she could nurse her baby, albeit awkwardly, the midwife
and her assistant left. In the interim, the practitioner had made the
acquaintance of Withersmith and Rutherford. Whereas Mr. Henry had jumped onto
the kitchen windowsill from outside to ask for a sample of whatever was baking,
he just as quickly left; the midwife had had an odd, herbal, medicinal
however, had enjoyed the portion of casserole that the assistant had
accidentally dropped. Rutherford, too, had nibbled at those fragments. Yet,
Withersmith was somewhat miffed when the midwife had tasked him with
guarding the threshold of Chet and Dorothys bedroom rather
than allowing him in to sniff the new baby.
After she left,
Withersmith sniffed. Rutherford wandering into the bedroom, too, but remained
beneath the bed as their new family member was piercingly high pitched.
lasted only two days; Chet served them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For
some odd reason, his beloved wanted no part of his creative,
ecologically-friendly cooking. He offered tofu burritos and chickpea loaf, but
all that Dorothy was willing to down was slices of roasted turkey. As he hauled
pan after pan of dead bird out of their oven, she inhaled the stuff while
muttering about postpartum recovery and the soothing nature of tryptophan.
Nancy Lynn did not
appear at their door until Dorothy was two weeks postpartum. As the young
neighbor charged past Chet, she complained that her mother had made her stay
home until the baby built up immunities.
All the while,
Withersmith wagged and wagged at her reappearance. Mr. Henry sniffed her hands
for treats, found none, and jumped back out the kitchen window to the relative
quiet of the yard. Rutherford stayed behind the refrigerator.
forgot, declared the little girl. She returned to the front door and
fetched the picnic basket that Mr. Henry had already sorted (it was a short
distance from the grass beneath the kitchen window to the front door.) The bite
marks in the tuna casserole evidenced his work.
Chet sighed as he
lifted the viands from their hamper. There must be an unwritten rule that
postpartum moms needed white flour, white sugar, and sundry unhealthy forms of
nourishment. In addition to the partially
tasted casserole, the trug contained an apple pie, a box of crackers, a jar of
peanut butter, a jar of jelly, a box of chocolate chip cookies, and a cucumber
of questionable worth.
Did you find
what I added? asked Nancy Lynn.
Chet nodded. Surely,
his young neighbor had baked neither the pie nor the casserole. Were the
cookies her contribution? The sandwich makings? The wilted vegetable?
shouted Dorothy from the bedroom.
Chet popped corn and
warmed up one of the new casseroles. He tasted a cookie and then another.
Whereas he hadnt formed an empathy belly while Dorothy was
pregnant, in the last two weeks, he had gained noticeable weight.
wondered if middle age spread was caused by living with a hormone-driven spouse
or with highly dependent children. So far, at least, Addisons diapers
were passable and he hadnt any feeding duties since their baby was
exclusively breastfed. On the flip side, there seemed to be inadequate oxytocin
in Dorothy and Adissons bond as his wife was almost always hangry.
While Chet plated
the casserole, Nancy Lynn helped herself to popcorn. She got busy tossing a
kernel at a time to Withersmith. The dackel politely kept down all of those
corn seeds until after the Nancy Lynn left. Thereafter, he puked on the living
room carpet, in the kitchen, and at the foot of Chet and Dorothys
commented on the mess in their bedroom. She had yet to leave that space,
relying on the en suite bathroom for personal needs and on Chet for all
By the time that
Addison was a month old, Dorothy had moved her station to the living room sofa.
She left the house for all of Addisons well baby care appointments but
otherwise had not crossed the threshold.
the only bedroom activity that Dorothy wanted to engage in was sleep. Worse,
when she didnt position Addison between her and Chet, Dorothy sectioned
off her half of the mattress with a wall of pillows.
Often, Chet would
roll over so that instead of embracing his beloved, he slept with his back to
her. On such occasions, if he forgot to fully close the bedroom door, hed
find Mr. Henry purring on his head and Withersmith and Rutherford curled up on
his side of the floor (when Chet needed the bathroom before dawn, he had to be
very careful not to step on the hedgehog.)
you should see a doctor. I dont think its normal to be crying all
Mastitis! You cant understand what its like to pass a watermelon
through the eye of a needle.
should call the midwife, again.
should cook me an anchovy omelet.
Addison throw up last time you ate one before nursing her?
That was the
chocolate-covered spinach. Im bereft without chocolate.
tofu and sorghum and goat milk. Enough with the health food store!
I thought you
liked my lotus root curry and my teff pancakes.
youd consider supplements? Youre likely lacking in manganese and
magnesium as well as lacking zinc and phosphorus.
her! Shes my care provider, not yours. Also take Withersmith away. He
needs to go up for adoption.
The pound. The
ASPCA. Wherever. I dont care.
had him since you were an undergrad.
having him. For that matter, Rutherford, and Mr. Henry, too, need new
Dorothy burst into
tears. The only way I can escape thoughts about hurting Addison is to
focus on getting rid of those companions. Any other private things you want to
suggested a psychologist who specialized in the baby blues.
waiting room was full of photos of happy moms and their children.
Addison mewed as
soon as the young family found seats next to the magazine racks. When Dorothy
took her nursing blanket out of her pack to feed their baby, she began to cry.
All I do is feed her. Look at me! I havent showered in days. I
sleep for three to four hours at a time, at most. Plus, Im always
bottle feed, sometimes, so you could sleep. Doesnt have to be
formulayou could pump while nursing. I could lose a little sleep some
nights so you can gain some.
for sending our furry friends to the vet for a vacation and not
leaving them at a shelter. When Im semi-lucid, I remember that I adore
Not at all. I
just wish that I could cook lentil Bolognese or make another whole roasted
How dare you!
I gag at the thought, let alone the smell of
Please come in. A middle-aged woman in neat, albeit casual, clothing
gestured to an office that opened off the waiting room. A sofa thick with
pillows and a throw rug, many plants, and towering bookcases filled that space.
Additionally, a desk and a swivel chair stood waiting.