General Fiction posted March 6, 2010


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Love is just an ego away

We Will Love Him Together

by Belinda

Story of the Month Contest Winner 
I sat in front of the pediatrician, like a suspect before the judge. My baby nestled in my arms, whimpering softly.

This was our second visit to the third doctor, and I was worried sick. Dani's food absorption was so weak he always had diarrhea or threw up every time he was fed. This made him subject to coughs and colds at an age when a baby usually still retained his natural immunities.

"We can change his milk, and give him some medication for his cold," the doctor said. "But another simple cure is on hand, hopefully."

"What?" my husband and I said simultaneously.

"I'm sorry, but may I ask you a simple question, Madam?"

"Sure."

"Why don't you breastfeed him? You seem quite healthy."

I was dumbfounded. Actually, I had my suspicions about this nursing versus health, but I never thought he would pose such a straightforward question.

"Dani seems to have an allergy to cow's milk, which will decrease as he grows older. Now that he's only two weeks old, what he needs most is his mother's milk. As you know... " His voice went on and on, telling us what I already knew.

Herman and I stared at each other.

"Well?" the doctor insisted. "Why don't you give it a try?"

"The problem is...," my husband said after I nodded my head in approval, "Dani is not our birth baby..." There, the secret is out.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. In this case, let's try this new product of soya based milk..." He scribbled his prescription. "Hopefully the baby's body will accept this very mild formula."

While waiting at the chemist for yet another kind of soya milk and some medicine, I watched Dani, asleep in Herman's arms. He was so thin, but his tummy was bulging. Without his clothes on, his skin would seem transparent, showing blue veins like roads on a map. He would be a handsome boy if only ...

Herman and I had been longing to have a baby for ten long years. It came as a shock to our family when Lisa, my sister who was only nineteen at that time, and unmarried, admitted that she was pregnant.

How could life be so unfair? Herman and I wanted a baby and went to doctor after doctor in order for me to conceive. We had all it took to welcome a baby in our house, yet no baby came along although we were both proclaimed healthy. Whereas Lisa was still a college student without a boyfriend by her side, and a baby was there, waiting to be born in just six months!

"Why didn't you tell Andy before he went abroad?" my father snapped at her.

"I did not know it yet, father. Besides, I would not do anything to stop his studies."

"He should know. He must come back and marry you."

"No!"

"Or, you will have an abortion."

"No!"

"So? What would you do?" my father asked, folding his arms across his chest.

It was then an idea crossed my mind. It was not a very sincere one, but at that time it seemed brilliant. I asked my parents to let Lisa have the baby in a clinic out of town, and after that she would return home as a virgin. Meanwhile I would also 'vanish' from our neighborhood and come back as a mother. Nobody would know the truth.

My parents immediately agreed with my plans. My mother was even relieved. I would have the baby of my dreams and my sister would not be an object of ridicule. Our family would be safe from disgrace.

Having the upper hand, I put forward my conditions. "But remember, the baby will be mine thoroughly. Do not nurse him, whatever happens. Do not even hold him. I don't want him to love you more than me."

Lisa could do nothing but succumb to my wishes. In time, she had her baby in a small town, where I accompanied her during her third trimester. I left my job on the pretense of pregnancy and bearing a baby.

It was the happiest moment in my life, when we took the newborn baby home. Dani was a healthy baby with chubby cheeks, and I loved him instantly. Lisa returned to our parents' house and would soon attend college again. Maybe there was justice after all.

Dani, however, turned out not to be as healthy as we wished him to be. He threw up very easily and had bouts of diarrhea, coughs and colds. In no time, he became very thin, until he weighed only two and a half kilos. Off we went to doctor after doctor ...

"Sara, how is Lisa?" Herman suddenly asked.

"She's okay... why?"

"What if we ask her to nurse Dani?"

I closed my eyes. This is what I had been afraid of. People say, the bonding between a baby and his mother took place most effectively while nursing.

"Please don't, Herman. Don't ever think about it. We have made a promise."

"But what about Dani?"

"He will recover."

"We have tried everything, Sara."

"We have talked about it, Herman. Dani is my son, nobody can touch him."

"Not even his birth mother?"

"Especially her. And don't you ever forget, I am his birth mother."

"Of course you are, Sara, in spirit and everything. He just asks for a little sacrifice. Please, Sara, do it for our son."

Dani woke up and cried. For his weak body, his cries were quite loud, and only stopped when he coughed. He blinked his eyes and almost choked. I took him from Herman, rubbed his chest and whispered, "Hush, baby, hush..."

I knew he was hungry. I knew he was sick. His crying and coughing pierced my heart like darts. Suddenly I realized how I, who claimed to love him, denied him of his right, the nutrition he needed so much.

As soon as Dani's prescription was ready we left the chemist and headed home. All the way in the car, I was wary between wanting to prepare the new formula and ... asking for Lisa's milk. What would she say if I did beg her, after the heartless conditions I thrust upon her? Ever since the day we took Dani home, she did not even dare to come and see him.

Who would expect that Lisa would be sitting there in our terrace, waiting for us?

"Mbak... I hear Dani's ill. Can I see him, please?"

I did not say a word, I just showed the baby to Lisa. My sister stifled a sob.

She followed me to the nursery. I laid Dani on his crib carefully, and covered him with his comforter.

"He's so thin," Lisa commented. I saw her clench her hands, and I knew why. She was afraid her wish to touch him became too much to bear!

"Yes."

"Lisa," Herman interrupted us. "He needs you."

"What do you mean, Mas?"

I stopped short on my way to the kitchen to prepare the new formula for Dani. Herman has started something, I merely have to continue...

"He means, do you still have your milk?" I said bluntly.

"Well yes, Mas, Mbak." Then she whispered to me, "I have it sucked and throw it away time after time, lest I become feverish... It breaks my heart when mother told me Dani needs it."

My sister's eyes watered as she locked her gaze with mine. Her beautiful eyes were sad and loving at the same time. "Please, Mbak?"

"Yes, you may ..."

Herman duly left the nursery, and I busied myself helping Lisa prepare herself for nursing. It was then I watched the most beautiful view in the world: Dani sucking life from his birth mother.

Why did not I think of this earlier? Why did I let my pride govern my heart and endanger Dani's fragile life?

When he was through and fast asleep, without throwing up as usual, Lisa said to me, "I will be here any time he needs me, Mbak."

"And we will love him together," I said as I hugged my dear sister so close to my heart.

How could I deny Dani his right to grow and be healthy just because of my ego? How could I not see the sincerity of my sister's love for the baby as well as for me? Thank you God, thank you for showing me the right way to love...



Story of the Month
Contest Winner

Recognized


* 'Mas' is how a person addresses an older brother, and 'Mbak' is the equivalent for an older sister in the Javanese culture.
* Thanks to JOAN ROSSIE for the use of this cute baby picture.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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