Bringing Up Babies | Teen Ink

Bringing Up Babies

May 5, 2021
By Lydiaq ELITE, Somonauk, Illinois
Lydiaq ELITE, Somonauk, Illinois
148 articles 41 photos 1014 comments

Favorite Quote:
The universe must be a teenage girl. So much darkness, so many stars.
--me


            I am Bethe Alice Grey, walking through this decrepit and hungry neighborhood. The birds’ nests are crumbling in the October air. The sidewalks seem lethargic. I am bleary-eyed and my step is heavy, though I whistle soap operas to keep myself awake. I scan my note and then the rows of houses, wondering if the number is so faded off the paint, I won’t be able to distinguish it…

            A scream from the right house directs me. I don’t even knock, the way a proper midwife should. I just walk in. A cat with a worm problem claws at my ankles, as hungry and love-starved as the house’s renter. The windows are hung with old beach towels, and the floor is littered with can-openers. Why can-openers? I sniff, sigh, dodge the cat.

            I have Laeh a hundred times, why does she take in cats when she is pregnant and fixing to starve both herself and the baby? But Laeh has passed the point of answering questions. She used to paint such beautiful pictures, pictures of children and lobsters and sand dunes, from her old home in Maine. Now she has run all out of paint, and the bedroom where she is stranded smells like dirt and poor people's sweat.

            “Bethe?” a ghostly voice hisses from under a cat-urine blanket.

            “Laeh, you need to get out of there.”

            “Are you the landlord, come to take me away?”

            “No, I’m Bethe, come to change the sheets.”

            “Can you get the baby out of me, or are you sure…do I have to pay you? I got nothing left to live on.”

            I bite my dry lip to keep from wincing. Blood has soaked through her nightgown into the sheets and into the mattress, stains that will never come out. I have seen almost every perversion of human nature in my baby-delivering career, but blood stains are one thing I will never stop gagging about. I have to hide this and be strong.

            “Laeh,” I say, “If you hold still and listen to Miss Bethe, soon you will have a nice fat baby all swaddled in your arms. You can’t give up now. Haven’t we been working toward this for eight months? Come on, what do you plan to name it if it’s a boy?”

            “Squelcher,” says Laeh. “Leechy. Piggie. T-Rex. Sketch.”

            “How about a nice name like Robert or Lucas?”

            “Never mind. I just know it’ll be a girl…and she’ll turn out just like me. All girls are doomed to be like their mothers. Every boy is different, but every girl carries around the same brand of hurting her mother gave her. Girls are fools to exist. That’s what my grandmother told me.”

            “Your grandmother’s been dead of whiskey for ten years now, Laeh.”

            Laeh sighs like she’s just too tired to think anymore, and her sigh is cut off by a horrible wince. Laeh’s a pretty girl of only nineteen, Hispanic, with spilling brown curls and a soft, tinkling laugh that sounds like sad piano notes. But her eyes are about one hundred, and her fists as they clutch the bedpost as like an old hag’s fists. The scary thing is, when I wash my hands and look in the cracked mirror in Laeh’s bathroom, I find I look just like Laeh. Why? This stinky house and the smell of antiseptic must be playing tricks on me.

            “Do you know what my dream is?” Laeh says. “Do ladies really have babies in the middle of a pool? What does that look like? Does the doctor show up in full snorkeling gear? Does the nurse wear a bikini?”

            Now, I’ve had ladies’ minds wander off on me before, and the families I work for—I’ve never seen the beat of the families for craziness. One father cheered on the baby’s birth in a full Cubs uniform and roller skates. One drunken boyfriend called the cops and said someone left a strange baby at his girlfriend’s house. When there are younger siblings, it’s hard to keep them from popping around, asking, “Can I have the new baby yet?” I insist on delivering the babies at home—if only to observe the families.

            But Laeh—Laeh has no family. No husband. No parents. No boyfriend. No nobody. She is completely alone with her new baby, no job, no way to support it.

            When the evening rolls around, there I am, feeling as proud and tired as a real mama—holding a little girl named Strawberry. “Just look at her, Laeh. Count her toes. Look at those sleepy blue eyes. Blue as a milk carton. Don’t cry…she’ll be fine. I never saw one so lusty and sweet and strong. Don’t cry…wanna hold her?”

            She just lays there lifeless and weeps. The baby pulls at my finger, hungry.

            I have no good things left to tell her. Then I bend down close to her and she whispers her story to me. By the end, we are both crying until our tear glands are worn out. We have no separation between us. Just two ladies—and a brand-new life—huddled in the darkness of a room, whispering stories.



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This article has 9 comments.


Lydiaq ELITE said...
on Jan. 15 at 10:10 am
Lydiaq ELITE, Somonauk, Illinois
148 articles 41 photos 1014 comments

Favorite Quote:
The universe must be a teenage girl. So much darkness, so many stars.
--me

Thank you all:)

on Jan. 9 at 12:54 pm
Ela2611 PLATINUM, Vancouver, Columbia
43 articles 30 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
Give the ones you love , the wings to fly roots to come by and reasons to stay …….

@lydiaq , really great story ☺️

on Aug. 19 2021 at 1:11 am
Methmi PLATINUM, Colombo, Other
49 articles 14 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
“When things get hard, stop for awhile and look back and see how far you’ve come. Don’t forget how rewarding it is. You are the most beautiful flower, more than anyone else in this world.”

Awesome Story!

on Aug. 14 2021 at 11:06 am
toliveg7 SILVER, Charlottesville, Virginia
5 articles 1 photo 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life doesn't give you seatbelts!"-Batman, The Lego Movie
“Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.”--Charles Dickens

This is awesome; lovely job. Also, @Lydiaq, you're a fantastic writer, and I recommend you look into some of the Alliance of Young Artists and Writers' contests. I think you'd have a good chance at winning an award (if you don't know about this already). :))

Lydiaq ELITE said...
on Jul. 26 2021 at 5:16 pm
Lydiaq ELITE, Somonauk, Illinois
148 articles 41 photos 1014 comments

Favorite Quote:
The universe must be a teenage girl. So much darkness, so many stars.
--me

Thanks!!

on Jul. 23 2021 at 5:37 am
CrazyCatLady6 GOLD, New Radnor, Other
16 articles 0 photos 102 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There would be no shadows if the sun were not shining"

This is so raw and realistic, I really like how it isn't glamourised, and is just as it is.

on May. 13 2021 at 5:29 pm
SparrowSun ELITE, X, Vermont
200 articles 23 photos 1053 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It Will Be Good." (complicated semi-spiritual emotional story.)

"Upon his bench the pieces lay
As if an artwork on display
Of gears and hands
And wire-thin bands
That glisten in dim candle play." -Janice T., Clockwork[love that poem, dont know why, im not steampunk]

ah, shes a good law abiding woman

Lydiaq ELITE said...
on May. 13 2021 at 2:27 pm
Lydiaq ELITE, Somonauk, Illinois
148 articles 41 photos 1014 comments

Favorite Quote:
The universe must be a teenage girl. So much darkness, so many stars.
--me

I think bethe smuggles it and brings it up.herself

on May. 13 2021 at 1:18 pm
SparrowSun ELITE, X, Vermont
200 articles 23 photos 1053 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It Will Be Good." (complicated semi-spiritual emotional story.)

"Upon his bench the pieces lay
As if an artwork on display
Of gears and hands
And wire-thin bands
That glisten in dim candle play." -Janice T., Clockwork[love that poem, dont know why, im not steampunk]

does the kid get put up for adoption?