Fifty Shades of Post-Partum
Caveat to the reader: Unlike my previous stories, each chapter of this one will be told from a single POV. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a cheating story. It is a story of despair and redemption. I do not believe that this story is not out of line with Ana's character in the original book. Remember that when she had her "consultation" with Flynn in Darker, he was worried because she thought so little of herself. I am using that as a foreshadowing of this possible scenario. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it.
I stand above her and look at her sweet, little face, with its rosebud mouth and long lashes on her cheeks. Her little chest rises and falls as she breathes. The bassinet is simple in furnishings. Of course, Christian read about the dangers of pillows and quilts suffocating infants. She sleeps beside my bed so that I can reach out when she cries. So tiny, so fragile, she is just so different than her older brother.
However, I don't always get to her at the first little squawk, like I did with Teddy. He was easier. Because she is smaller, she needs to nurse more often. She sucks contentedly, but not greedily as Teddy did. He always wanted to eat as much as he could hold as quickly as he could get it. He still eats that way, like a horse, like his father.
"Fee-bee," he calls his baby sister, elongating the syllables of her name in his two-year old baby voice. "Teddy love Fee-bee, Mommy. Teddy love Mommy. Teddy love Daddy."
Each night I listen to his simple prayers.
"God bless Fee-bee. God bless Mommy. God bless Daddy. God bless Soeee. God bless Tay-yer . . ."
He can't say "Taylor" properly yet, or "Sophie." The litany goes on. He is so proud that he remembers all the people that he wants God to bless. But Fee-bee is always first. When she was born, I was afraid that he would be jealous, but no, not my boy. His Daddy told him that sisters are a special gift from God to big brothers. It is the job of big brothers to watch over little sisters.
Teddy looked back at Christian solemnly and nodded. He absorbs every word out of his beloved Daddy's mouth like a little sponge. Take care of Mommy. Take care of Fee-bee. That's what good daddies and good sons and "brudders" do.
"Mommy, may I please have a brudder next?" he asked me as if I had a choice.
"Why do you want a brother, Teddy?"
"Need help with all this taking care of," he explains earnestly.
"But what if it were a sister?" I ask.
He wrinkles his face like his father. Oh, little Teddy, you're so much like your father! He shakes his head intently.
"Too hard," he replies. "Teddy need help."
Breathe, Anastasia, breathe. I hear those words in my head as I return to now from my reverie. When I first met Christian, he would say that when I was overwhelmed in his presence. Then, he spoke the words as we practiced for childbirth, and then as I was in labor for hours with Teddy. But no matter how much, I breathed, I couldn't push him out. I failed. Dr. Greene insisted on a Caesarian. We almost lost him, my little Blip, now my little son.
Then Phoebe's birth. No breathing involved. It was a scheduled Caesarian. She was smaller, more delicate. I could have pushed her out, but Dr. Greene told me that the Caesarian was less traumatic. Teddy was sturdy, a big baby. It is only now, three months later that Phoebe has just caught up to his birth weight.
"Don't worry, Ana," Christian soothed me. "Little girls are supposed to be smaller. Don't you remember? She screamed bloody murder when I cut the cord. It's the lungs that matter. That's what Dr. Greene told us."
But I still fret and worry. I spend almost all my time with my little girl, watching her, holding her, feeding her. Grace gave me a baby sling so that I could more easily hold her wherever I go. Phoebe likes the sling. Very often, she will fall asleep as I walk around. Not that I get much sleep. At night, I would rather watch her than sleep myself. In fact, these days, Christian is getting more sleep than me.
I have lost almost all interest in my job, my career. I can't even look at a manuscript. Finally, my PA Hannah stopped sending them home. In the past three months, I have completely lost track of what is happening at Grey Publishing, and worse than that, I don't care. Christian and I have hired a solid team to run it. They don't need me.
I gaze at my little angel, my sweet little angel. She does not deserve a mother like me. She deserves a happy mother, a mother who picks her up at the first cry. I find it more difficult to. It takes me a while to shake myself out of my ennui. I am not asleep, but now I just can't move sometimes. I feel tired and listless. At night, sometimes Christian gets to her first. He sleeps lightly.
He thinks that my exhaustion is because of the two children. He worries because my libido seems to have taken off for Antarctica and never returned. I know that he has needs and appetites, but I feel inadequate to fulfill them. My son is bursting with energy and wants me to chase after him when he runs in the meadow like I used to. But running takes too much effort. I prefer sit, with little Phoebe in my arms while he runs around.
He will turn and frown back at me.
"Fee-bee run too?"
But I shake my head. Phoebe and I don't run. These days we can barely walk. Phoebe doesn't know the difference anyway. She is contented just to snuggle in close. So Teddy runs and leaps without us. Joyful, as he relishes this perfect, little haven that we have created here. Everyone, it seems, is happy but me.
One day, Christian was so worried that he took me to see Flynn. His diagnosis was classic baby blues. He suggested a better diet, more exercise, talk therapy. I don't eat much. I mostly eat because Gail is always at my side, encouraging me for Phoebe's sake. Phoebe refuses both the bottle and cereal. She only wants to nurse, to have "mommy milk," as Teddy calls it. I refuse to see Bastille. Christian doesn't force the issue. I don't want to talk.
I prefer to huddle alone and have conversations in my head all the time. Everyone else is busy with their lives. My life is my children, but I am failing even at that. Gail is helping me all the time. I don't know how she gets her own work done. But the house is immaculate, meals are on time, and all of our needs are met. She should have been a mother herself. She mothers me. She frets over me. But I can't even stand that any more. It only adds to my feelings of inadequacy.
Sleep, little angel, sleep. I brush my daughter's cheek lightly with my fingers tips as she rests comfortably on the silky sheet. She is really a very beautiful child. She has the same blue eyes and copper-colored hair as her brother.
I look over at Christian sleeping on his side of the bed. He has the same colored hair, but grey eyes, intense grey eyes. It used to be that if I got out of bed, he would be looking for me. But I have been getting out of bed so frequently with the kids that he no longer notices.
I walk into the nursery where Teddy is sleeping in his crib. He's two and a half now, but he's so large he's almost ready for a big boy bed. He's a solid sleeper, he always has been. He's terribly secure, no blankie or teddy bear or other security object for him. I brush his cheek and then I walk out.
I walk down the hall and down the steps to the living room where I can look out the glass wall at the Sound. It's an exquisite view. Tonight there is a full moon. It creates a path on the water, a silver white path. It is enticing. It seems to lead me from my living room towards Olympic National Park.
Unconsciously, I open the door and silently slip out onto the terrace. It is cold out and I am only dressed in my nightgown, nothing on my feet. The stones of the terrace are cold, but I hardly notice. The grass is soft and a little damp and I walk towards the water's edge. It's a long walk, towards the beautiful silver path.
Then I think that I hear someone calling my name, but I don't turn around, I run. I run towards the beautiful silver path made by the moonlight. I feel as if I could only reach the path it would lead me to the moon, the lovely glowing moon. Goodnight, Moon is Teddy's favorite book. We read it every night. He would have me read it two or three times.
I feel the cold water on my feet as I step into the silver path. And then it is up to my knees and my waist. I can no longer run, but I push ahead, deeper and deeper. I am now a part of the path. I hear voices calling my name from behind me, but behind me is no longer relevant. There is only what is before me. Don't dwell on the past, Flynn always says, look towards the future. So I look and move forward.
I find myself at greater peace than I been in months. As I look around me, I can see that I am directly in the silver moonlight, the peaceful, peaceful silver moonlight. I am free and they are free of me. They deserve more, better from their wife and mother. I have never been good enough.
Suddenly, I sink and the water surrounds me and fills my mouth, nose, and eyes. Yes, this is good. I belong to the moonlight. Goodnight, Mommy. Goodnight, moon.