“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way…” sang Whitney Houston.
The song, low in volume, crackled out of the speaker on my hospital bed. How appropriate I thought. It makes perfect sense to me that as I hold my child in my shaky arms for the last time for the rest of her life, I hear “The Greatest Love of All” floating in the air behind me. Is this some sort of sick joke being acted out by the Gods?
My cutie pie scrunches up her slightly pug nose and it recedes into the folds of her puffy red cheeks. I stare in wonder at her. I see so much of her father in her. Her dark hair and dark skin clearly show her Native American roots. Her face appears to be my face even at her young age. I see myself in there somewhere. Perhaps it is the slight upturn of her pug nose, the width and size of her eyes, or even the cupid’s bow arch formed by her top lip. My girl. My darling baby girl. How tall will she be? Will she be chubby like I was? Will her dark hair remain? Will she be artistic like I am and her father is?
She coos a bit. She is content. Nestled warmly in the crook of my arm, resting peacefully against my large breasts. She looks like an angel. I am confident if I could see auras I would see a halo over her head glowing a bright white. She is perfect. My baby girl. My first born child.
She fusses for a second and I put her to my shoulder and pat her back. A small burp causes a bit of spit up to land on my Johnny coat. I wonder if I should remove the Johnny coat and save it. This may be the only spit up of hers I get to see and smell.
I have been bottle feeding her. The nurses told me I had to. It was best for her. I also don’t have much choice as the doctors gave me medication to suppress my milk production. I did not know this until I had attempted to put her tiny mouth to my swollen breast and a nurse entering my room hollered at me. It was then I learned I was given medication without my knowledge. It was better for her not to get to attached to me, the nurse had said too much time with me would make it harder on both of us (or so they said) and suckling my nipple would definitely cause her harm. She also said, like everyone else did, my baby was better off without me.
My darling has no idea what is about to happen to her and to us. She trusts me now. She needs me and she wants me and she is expecting to hear me, smell me, and be around me just like she was for the past year or so. It will be years before she learns the truth.
The tears begin to flow from my eyes. I hold back deep sobs as I don’t want to wake the sleeping angel. My tears roll down my freckled cheeks and land on hers. The sunlight bursting through the window causes the tears to sparkle like diamonds. As I kiss her cheek at the site of the tear diamond, Whitney continues singing “…because the greatest love of all is happening to me…”
I laugh. The greatest love? That’s rather funny. Who exactly has the greatest love? The mother who bears child? The mother who abandons a child in need (as mine did) or perhaps the man who discards the love of his life due to fear, uncertainty and immaturity? Who has the greatest love?
I thought I did once.