Claudia had this kernel of resentment for her mother. Doing the opposite of what her mother would do, (or what she assumed her mother would do) gave her a sense of power.
She had suffered this pregnancy like no other, and the labour was so painful and long and left her so weak. When she saw him, she cried.
Her husband, Simon, didn’t want to touch the infant, her mother and father in law had left. Her father, whose transportation she had paid, who would reside in her house seemed reluctant to assist her in taking care of the baby, whom she had planned to name Connor.
She had trouble breast feeding Connor.
She stayed a few days in the hospital, then came home with the baby. Her younger child declared he was ugly, and she snapped at him. Simon stayed away from her. Her father, who was supposed to assist, busied himself with the other children.
Of course her mother wasn’t there. She had not invited her mother, had not called her, so unless her father told her, she wouldn’t know.
Connor had been born on Monday. Her mother usually called her on Sunday. Today was Thursday.
Claudia dragged out of bed, fat and clumsy into the bathroom. She tried to fix herself up a little before moving into the living room but was too tired. Connor began crying again.
She had been advised of the long list of health problems the baby would experience, everything from difficulty in passing stools to heart problems, and had a long list of appointments she was to keep with her doctors.
Trying to nurse Connor was a problem, so she had to make up some formula, and called Simon, but there was no response, she called her father, but didn’t hear him, so got out of bed and began to make her own formula for Connor in what was a quiet and empty house.
She began annoyed, feeling abandoned, and returned to the bedroom.
She didn’t hear Simon or her father or her other children for many hours, finally she heard the sounds of entry.
She told her father she’d brought him here to help her, and he responded he was looking after the children. She asked about Simon, he had gone to work.
She felt isolated.
On Sunday her mother called and she answered with a sense of annoyance. Her mother was extra bland and although Claudia tried to provoke an argument, Olive, her mother, turned the conversation around.
Claudia never stated the child had Down’s Syndrome, nor did Olive refer to it. The conversation was brief.
As Claudia never confided in her mother she couldn’t say anything about Simon sleeping in the other room, or her father spending most time with the other children and rarely assisting her with Connor.
The week passed as did the days, Simon remaining in the other room, her father busying himself with the other children, and her mother calling again on Sunday.
Again, Claudia shared little, and Olive didn’t ask much. To ‘how are you?’ she gave her usual, “I’m good.” and to ‘how is everyone?’ “They are all good..”
It was the usual empty blather that Olive expected, and after three minutes, said good bye.
Claudia’s father was supposed to stay a month but claimed some emergency and left after twelve days.
Simon’s folks had come for a brief visit before her father left, then returned to take the other children for a ‘few days’. They must have known her father’s intention, for they were prepared.
Claudia was now very much alone with Connor. Everyone had let her down. Her father, who went back to his life, her husband who was creating another life. The only one she could not honestly condemn was her mother who was left out of the entire situation.
Last year, Claudia had a husband, her kids, her father and her in laws. She had even invited her mother for a week. This year, her husband was virtually gone, her kids were with her in laws, and even her father was gone. And all she had was Connor.
The next Sunday when Olive called, Claudia told her, by the way, that Connor had Down’s Syndrome. “Yeah, I know,” Olive tossed. “How?” “What difference does it make? You didn’t want me to know because you know I would have told you to terminate. And because you know I would have told you to have an abortion you didn’t need to hear it from me. For that meant you had to have the baby. So you had him.”
“It was my choice!” Claudia shouted.
“Of course it was. It was your choice. I had nothing at all to do with it. You made it all on your own. No argument here.”
Her mother sounded almost amused.
“So you think I should have had an abortion?” Claudia attacked.
“Why are you acting as if I am arguing with you? You choice, you made it. Has nothing to do with me. I live a thousand miles away. “
Claudia was boiling in rage, she wanted a target, she needed to say something, but what?
“Anyway, I have to go, I’m meeting some friends…” and hung up.
And Claudia was alone with Connor, as she would be for the rest of her life.