Her tiny arms were waving madly, calling out for a little attention. I sent her soothing words through the glass, my eyes brimming with tears themselves as I heard her cries. A woman rushed into the SCBU, her flyaway blonde hair a mess around her face. She put her hands into the little holes in the incubator, her fingers frantically patting my baby.
“Baby, it’s ok,” she said, her voice sounding a world away from me, “Mummy’s here, Jacinta, Mummy’s got you.”
I bit my lips to stop the cries from escaping my mouth and curled my fists tight to refrain from bursting in and snatching my baby back. So they named her Jacinta. I looked at her pink face, quiet and calm now after she felt the soothing touch of that woman. That darling face with the wispy blonde hair and bright blue eyes did not look like a Jacinta to me. She was Delia to my heart, short for Cordelia. I knew that the name was long out of fashion, if it was ever in fashion in the first place, but it felt so right. Cordelia Wright, a little girl bearing my dream name and Chris’ last name.
“Good girl Jaz,” the woman cooed, her eyes shining with the joy of a new mother, “You’re getting much better aren’t you? Maybe we can go home tomorrow!”
My eyes widened, their bright blue pupils dilated with a newfound fear. No, not tomorrow, not so soon. Where would I find her after? I had no idea where her new home would be, and from the sun-kissed tone of that woman’s skin it was nowhere around here. I watched as my baby curled her tiny hand around that woman’s long fingers, her liquid blue eyes full of trust gazing up through the walls of the incubator. A pain seared through my body, shooting up from the womb that had nursed my child for nine months into the depths of my heart. I doubled over, staggering sideways to lean against the immaculate wall of the hospital.
“Can I help you Miss?” asked a kindly nurse, her pale hand placed on my shoulder to steady me.
“No, I’m fine,” I gasped, “I’ll just get back to the maternity ward now.”
As I stumbled away from the SCBU, the nurse’s question replayed itself like a broken record in my head.Can I help you Miss? Can I help you Miss? Can I help you...
“I’m beyond help now,” I muttered bitterly to myself.
If only it was possible for someone to help me keep this child. This child who was no longer mine.
The worst thing about it all was the deception. They all assumed the child was ours, Chris’ and mine. Chris’ eyes had widened the first time someone congratulated him for the baby, and his accusing gaze had pierced through me as he smiled woodenly and thanked them. Afterwards I had asked him why he hadn’t denied the fact that the child was not his.
“What do you propose I say every time someone congratulates me then?” he had asked back.
“The truth,” I told him, even though I was praying in my heart that the truth would never get out.
“I know you really don’t want me to say that,”he told me.
I denied any thoughts of wanting him to continue this game of charade with me, and said that nothing was better than the truth.
“You are a lousy liar, Bonnie Conry,”Chris had said, and that was that.
I leant over to kiss him thank you, but his big hands pushed against my shoulders, keeping my face a good distance away from his. My heart dropped, and I pulled back to sit straight on the bricked fence, my face coloured crimson with embarrassment and shame. Silence stretched on, and with each second I saw the gap between us widening because of my stupid decision. Finally he reached over the chasm between us and held onto my hand, reassuring me in that Chris way that I hadn’t completely lost him yet. I twined my fingers around his hand, trying to hold together the threads of our relationship that I had severed. We sat there for hours that day, watching the autumn leaves fall like flurries of snow around us. When the moon shone like a disc above our heads and the lights in the house across the street flickered on, Chris had stood up and let go of my hand. Watching his retreating back disappear behind our door, I realised I learnt something that day. The difference between acceptance and forgiveness was as vast as the sky, as vast as the ocean, as vast as Chris’ heart.