My Bundle Of Joy: Part Thirty-Five

This is the thirty-fifth part of a fiction serial, in 757 words.

As time went on, I had less and less contact with Olly. He didn’t seem too interested in either me or Leah, and I had no interest in his new wife, or the baby she had presumably had by then. The money kept appearing in the bank every month, so I could pay all my bills and get any shopping I needed. Dad was a huge help, and came around to do anything I needed doing, and even some things I didn’t. Even mum started to ring me on a regular basis, and never forgot to ask how Leah was.

Rosa acted as if nothing unusual had happened, which was a relief for me not to have to discuss it with her. I asked her once about her pay, to make sure Olly was still paying by standing order, and she assured me he was.

The most recent hospital visit had seen me introduced to a new specialist, an older woman named Maria. She had a vague European accent, but I really liked her direct manner. She had run through the usual tests on Leah, and when it came to summarising what to expect from my daughter, she laid it out without any sugar coating.

Leah would walk, but did not appear to have developed a grip strong enough to keep hold of anything. She was unlikely to recognise me as her mother, to say any proper words, or to respond to hugs and affection. Physically, she would develop, but inside her brain she was unlikley to progress much further than she was now. Toilet training was going to be impossible, and she would be unable to ever wash or dress herself. Although her vision and hearing appeared to be unaffected, she did not focus on objects, colours, or textures, and her main instinct, in fact her only instinct, was to eat and drink.

According to Maria, the truth was that I had a future of caring for a child who would become a teenager and then an adult woman who would need nappies for life, would never recognise a friend or relative, never learn to read, play with a toy, or want to watch a cartoon or TV programme. She could never be trusted to be left alone, and would need close constant care for as long as she lived.

Part of me wished she hadn’t survived at birth.

But I forgot that, and resolved to get on with it. At Zoe’s Unicorns group, there were plenty of women much older than me still coping, and I would use the inspiration of knowing them to get me through.

When I rang my parents to tell them Maria’s gloomy prognosis, mum wanted to talk about Ronnie. She had expected him to go back to living with them, but he hadn’t. Instead, he had a new girlfriend he had met at tenpin bowling. She was only nineteen, but they were already organising a flat to rent, so he could move out of the shared house and live with her. I tried to sound positive about that, based on the fact that she was younger, and had made Ronnie forget about Lauren.

Mum only wanted to talk about how much she was disappointed in my brother.

Sitting at home one night watching Leah sat on her play mat staring into space, I reflected on the fact that I had no real friends. After leaving school to go to university, I had lost a couple of close schoolfriends who started to move in very different social circles to me. And although I made two very dear friends at university, the problem was that people came from all over to go there. Pauline Lam was from Hong Kong, and we were very close. But when she graduated, she got a job in California, and went off to live in America. Janet Deakin was my other close friend, but she returned to the north of Scotland, and I never saw her again.

There were work colleagues I thought of as friends, but they weren’t really. We went out for a pizza or a Mexican meal on their birthdays, and everyone dressed up and got drunk at the Christmas party. But they all had family and friends outside of work, and busy social lives that were never going to include me. That’s probably why I latched on to Olly so fast. He was all I had, at least I thought he was. I thought he was steady, loving, and reliable too.

Well I got that wrong.

38 thoughts on “My Bundle Of Joy: Part Thirty-Five

    1. So much of this goes on behind closed doors, Eddy. And you might be surprised just how common it is. When you manage to have kids unaffected by anything like this, you are luckier than you realise.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. To be completely honest, there was very little research. It is mostly based on my experiences in the Ambulance Service in London, and seeing hundreds of people in similar situations ‘behind closed doors’. Angela is relatively lucky. Well off financially, and supported by her father. Many flounder in the benefits system, and stagger from day to day alone.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah. That’s interesting. You don’t see that as research. I guess it isn’t in the classical sense in which we look things up, either online or in books.
        One thing’s for certain, you were paying attention.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When I wrote my serial set in America from 1864-1956, I had to do a huge amount of physical research on places, dates, names, and maps. I filled pages of a notebook with that. But for this one, I had 22 years of experience to count on. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. lol – I have a filing cabinet full of tech stuff that’s out of date now.
            The reason I asked is because the story feels so real. I almost thought that perhaps you had experienced something similar yourself. You’ve capture the mother beautifully.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. lmao – yes, I knew you weren’t a woman! But it still rang true. Trust me, men writing women and women writing men rarely sound ‘true’. That was something else that struck me about the character, that she sounded real.

                Liked by 1 person

  1. I appreciate how honest Angela (the author) was to expose her deeply held thoughts around Leah surviving her birth, I’m sure many people have struggled with these thoughts around severely disabled children, but she puts it aside and decides to deal with what’s in front of her. She’s amazing! I’m so glad she has her Dad! C

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Her dad stepping up made life so much easier for her, Cheryl. Everyone in that situation needs at least one person to count on.
      She is relating her story to someone, which is made clearer soon.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) “As time went on, I had less and less contact with Olly. The wormhole had become unstable.” (Jodie Foster)
    (2) Angela has a sweet tooth, so she was a bit disappointed in Maria when she failed to sugar coat her prognosis for Leah.
    (3) “The monkey kept appearing on the riverbank every month, so I could play all my bills and get any property I needed.” (Jane Goodall, author of “How I Played Monopoly with a Monkey”)
    (4) “Physically, she would develop, but inside her brain she was unlikely to progress much further than she was now.” According to the London Model Academy, she’ll be perfect for the catwalk.
    (5) “…her main instinct, in fact her only instinct, was to eat and drink.” What about sex? Isn’t that a Basic Instinct? She’s a human being, not a stone!
    (6) “Part of me wished she hadn’t survived at birth.” Angela, you should contact Jodie’s foster parents. They wanted a biological child—no matter how alienated from the norm—but were denied one due to an unstable wombhole.
    (7) Ronnie met his new girlfriend at tenpin bowling. On a scale of 1 to 10, she was a 10. She was so strikingly beautiful, he fell for her immediately.
    (8) I asked Pauline Lam and Carrie Lam if they were related. I didn’t get an answer. #SilenceOfTheLams

    Liked by 3 people

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