Being a single parent is my new normal. My life has become hell as I take on the role of both mother and father to the daughter we brought into this world with love. Getting a baby ready in the morning is not an easy task; the amount of stuff one little person needs is ridiculous. The bottles, the extra clothes, and the special blanket my mom made for her are just a few of the things this little one needs. Not to mention, she demands snuggles in the morning. At this young age, I can already tell our baby is not a morning person, like her mother. The drive to my parents’ house is too long not to feed her beforehand, and she’s the slowest eater. She’d rather play more than nourish her little body.
My mom is a godsend. I have no idea what I would do without my mom, Justine, and Hildy. Hell, neither Emma nor I are related to Hildy, yet she takes Aspen once or twice a week to give my mom a break. I can’t leave her at home with Emma.
I don’t know what Emma does at home during the day. I mentioned it to her a couple of nights ago. “Since you are not staying at home with the baby as we planned, have you thought about going back to work?”
“We hired someone to take my spot, remember? You see him every day.” That was her snarky reply. I had always loved the fact we worked together, but knowing she’d be at home with our daughter throughout the day made the idea of not seeing her at work, as I had for years, a little easier to take.
“Yes, but I’m not talking about coming back to work with us at Wallace and Hunter. You’re a bookkeeper, accountant galore. A jack-of-all-trades with glowing references, if I may add,” I said, laughing at myself. “You could find a job anywhere.”
“I’m not well enough to work yet.”
“Are you still seeing Dr. Marini?”
“No, he’s a quack.”
“Okay, let me find someone who specializes in postpartum depression, and I’ll set you up with a new doctor as soon as I can.” After she spent six weeks in an impatient facility, I thought she was on the road to recovery.
“Dammit, Tyler, I don’t have postpartum. That baby almost killed me. I’m scared to death. I can’t do anything for her. I’m not the woman you married anymore.”
Of course, I couldn’t accept this. The statement that just came out of her mouth was not the first time I’d come face to face with her words. Somehow, the near-death experience caused some sort of psychosis within her mind. “We probably won’t have any more kids, so I don’t think you have to worry about dying in childbirth again.” I knew it was a dick thing to say, but I wasn’t sure how to help her when she didn’t want to help herself.
“That is for damn sure,” she said, stomping away.
She certainly doesn’t clean the house while I’m at work. Dishes are piled high in the sink with a lingering smell that could rival a dump. Whenever I enter the house, I find small deposits of laundry; her way of telling me they need attention. Our once tidy house looks like a war zone. Emma, who’d been borderline OCD, now treats our home with absolute disregard, just as she does with every other part of our life. I try to remind her how much we wanted Aspen, knowing she’ll probably be our only child.
When I step into Aspen’s room, one we decorated together with a fervent desire for this baby we were lucky to bring into this world, I remember it took us days to agree on a theme for her room. Knowing we were having a little girl, I pushed for pure pink with the idea of swaddling my own daughter. Emma, on the other hand, pushed for something not so over the top. I would have been happy with a boy, but protecting a girl as I had watched Emma’s dad do for years was what I desired.
“Tyler, do you know how gaudy all this pink is?” I laughed because Emma was never a girly girl. Feminine, yes. Sexy, fuck yes. But over-the-top makeup and pink? Never.
“Then what do you want for our little girl’s room?”
I watched Emma’s eyes sparkle as she pulled up an idea on Pinterest. The room was painted in black and aqua blue with a girly chandelier and antiqued black furniture; I looked at Emma, knowing I couldn’t say no to her. But more so, I didn’t want to. Like Emma, this room was perfect for our sweet little girl.
Bringing myself back to the present, I think of how Emma just turned down my offer to visit Rose in the hospital. I’m restless as I look at my slumbering baby in her crib. Turning away from her, I feel guilty for bringing this baby into a world where she isn’t surrounded by the love of her mother. I love Emma, always will. I won’t give up on my wife, but I can’t reconcile how to continue with this sort of division in our home.
Aspen stirs as she coos. Leaning over to pick her up, I say, “Hey there, precious girl. I’m so glad you got back to sleep last night.” I think of the news concerning Rose’s baby being born with Down syndrome and how this little fact might help Emma snap out of what she’s going through. But it just resulted in a fight that ended up waking the baby.
I miss my wife. Even though she’s in the same house, we barely see each other. She has taken over the spare room and stays in there most of the time, her attention glued to the television. I can only explain her actions during the day when Aspen is awake as a vegetative state. I remember my grandmother at the end of her life, and when I look in on Emma, she looks like Gram did. The second Aspen is down for the night, she pops up, as if she has made a speedy recovery, only to repeat the next day.
I’m not sure she will ever return to me. It’s been six months, and I fucking miss her more every day. I can’t sleep without her. Insomnia takes over because it is hard to sleep alone in a bed where I’m used to Emma being.
When Nick, my father-in-law, called me last night, I was fraught with anticipation for the news of Brody and Rose’s baby. The second I heard his voice, the nerves lacing Nick’s words were all I needed to understand the news was not what we’d hoped. I have known my business partner and father-in-law long enough that my heart sank. “Rose is in good spirits. Their baby is healthy, but she will have challenges.” Nick’s upbeat attitude was always present. “Justine is with Rose now.” He continued to fill me in on the newest member of our family.
Before I end the call, I say, “We have got to do something with Ems. Meet me at the clinic before it opens.”
I can’t help but feel guilty. We have this baby, a healthy baby, and Rose, Emma’s sister, is grieving for what she thought her daughter would be. But knowing Rose as I do, she’s kicking everyone’s ass who feels sorry for her and Brody. She’s probably saying, “Our baby is healthy and I’m healthy.” Rose takes life as it’s given and never looks back. I’ve been impressed with how she’s taken the news of her unexpected pregnancy with all the adversities of both Jones and Brody. Through all this, Rose has never once felt sorry for herself. My wife was like that at one time, too. Boy, what I would give to have her back.
I spoke with Emma this morning, trying to get her to come to the hospital with me to see her new niece, but hell, she wouldn’t even acknowledge our own child. After dropping Aspen off with my mom, I head to work earlier than normal to talk with Nick, but I do not intend to tell him that Emma fired her psychiatrist.