Sonia placed her tightly swaddled newborn in the cot and backed out of the room. Closing the door behind her, she took a breath. She stood erect, listening for the inevitable screams. After a minute, Sonia slowly moved away.
In the kitchen with the baby monitor in arm’s reach, Sonia flicked on the kettle and shoved bread into her toaster. It was 9.15AM, she’d been up since six yet had not been able to prepare breakfast.
‘Where does the time go?’ Sonia said out loud, stifling a yawn. Her baby girl was nine weeks old and the routine that her maternal health nurse kept spruiking had not fallen into place. Her shoulders sagged as she realised another appointment with the crusty old bag was next week. Sonia was in a mess of laundry, breast feeding, expressing, cooking, sleeping—or more truthfully, not sleeping—and tears. So many tears. Hers and the baby’s.
The bread sprung up, toasted golden brown. Just how she liked it. After spreading on butter then Vegemite, she sunk her teeth in and felt the trickle of warm melted butter run onto her chin. She used the back of her hand to wipe it away, then licked the butter off. Determined not to cry while enjoying the simple pleasure of Vegemite toast and instant coffee, she switched off the monitor. She didn’t want to hear the burble of her baby.
The kettle reached its bubbling climax and clicked itself off. A teaspoon of Moccona and a splash of milk. Done. Too easy. She didn’t understand those hipster morons who droned on about espresso coffee with steamed milk. Brett had wanted to get her a machine for her birthday, but she refused it. Instant was fine with her. It was called instant for a reason. He of course called her a philistine.
The skies were clear, she could see from her vantage point by the kitchen window so she took her brekkie to the balcony and put the coffee and plate on the mini table. She sunk into the chair and closed her eyes. Just for a second.
The sound of cats fighting startled Sonia. Dazed, she looked at the table where ants were crawling over the toast. The coffee was long-since cold, the telltale blob of white where the milk had coagulated, brought a far off thought back. Cats…it wasn’t cats fighting. She had a baby. A girl. Clementine.
Sonia ran inside to Clemmie’s room. She had unwrapped herself from the swaddle. Her face was red and blotchy, her arms and legs were moving furiously, as if she was riding a tiny baby air cycle.
‘Oooh, Clemmie. Mummy’s here.’ The tears fell from Sonia’s eyes onto Clemmie’s onesie. ‘I’m sorry. I’m not good at this. I’ll try harder.’
Sonia picked up Clementine. She wondered when she’d start to feel like a mum. It was hard. Harder than she imagined.