A Mother’s Heart

Isabella awoke from a deep slumber to the sounds of a baby crying. Immediately she knew it was the baby that belonged to the young mother, Amber, sleeping in the next room. Her alarm clock showed it was 2:50 AM. It was a late night for all of them, so she arose to take care of the baby. Amber needed her rest after the night she had.

She threw back the covers and grabbed her robe from the edge of the bed. While sliding her arms through the sleeves she stepped toward the doorway and into the hallway heading toward the bedroom where the baby was sleeping in. She quickly walked into the room towards the crib. There laying in the crib was a tiny newborn baby girl in pink pajamas named Anna.

Isabella picked up Anna and held her up to her shoulder bouncing her to calm her down. Raising her own children taught her that Anna needed her diaper changed and then she would need to be fed. She laid her down on the changing table and Anna cried harder. She knew she would have to be quick to quiet her down before she woke up her mother. She quickly changed the diaper while talking to Anna to show her that she was taking care of her. When she was finished, she picked up little Anna and held her close.  Oh, the scent of a newborn baby. Tears started to come to her eyes. Such a wonderful moment was now about to be disrupted with tears. She allowed the tears to slide down her face. Oh, this pain, when will it ever go away. Little Anna started to whimper.

She carried her to the kitchen to make her a bottle, grateful for the distraction.  Isabella mixed the formula together, put it in a bottle, and warmed it up in a pan on the stove. She placed the lid with the nipple on top of the bottle. Anna seemed to sense that she was going to be fed soon and started to cry again. She tested the milk on her wrist, the right temperature, she thought. Before heading back to the bedroom, she gave Anna her bottle. It was best she fed her in her bedroom where it was darker then Anna would fall asleep quicker. Besides the rocking chair seemed very inviting to her right now.

Entering the room, she grabbed a cloth diaper to drape over her shoulder. She sat in the rocking chair and cradled little Anna in her arms, shifting her weight to get comfortable, and gazed down at Anna as she started feeding. Anna gazed back up at Isabella who was safely cradled in her arms. Anna’s eyes were the blue of a newborn baby. Isabella wondered what color they would end up being. She relaxed at the sound of hearing Anna drink the milk from her bottle. Anna’s tiny fingers were curled into fists as newborns tend to do.

She smiled as she remembered those memories of her own children who were now grown up with their own children. Her first born was Michael, smart, engaging, and honest. He graduated with a law degree and was now working as a defense attorney at a law firm. Twelve years ago, Michael married Carrie, his college sweet heart. They had two girls, Aria, was 10 and Mandy, was eight. Both girls had big hearts and their love was evident towards everyone they encountered.

Her second born, David, was an architect creating high rise buildings for multi-million dollar firms. He always had a talent for creating new things and would build all kinds of things with his toys as a boy. The tree house in the backyard was designed and built by David and his father. There were many memories created by the family in that tree house and lots of laughter. David had three children, Sarah, 10, Brenda, six, and Rachel, 5. He and his wife, Cindy, had been married for 13 years and they had their hands full with those three girls.

Finally, there was Nathaniel, the baby. Bright, energetic, and constantly moving as a child. He became a high school coach for the local high school here in Paddington, KY. He loved sports and his energy matched the kids he coached. He married Eileen two years ago and no children yet, but that was okay, because Nathaniel’s energy was devoted towards those teenagers he coached.

All the boys were close and she knew she and her husband were a part of creating their close-knit family. She was proud of all of them and had a special bond with each of them. As she thought about her children tears again crept forward and the sadness in her heart surfaced again. She hated these times when the tears erupted out of nowhere, especially when she was recalling memories that gave her so much joy. Being a mom was one of her favorite roles aside from being David’s wife. Just the thought of David brought sadness and tears. He had been gone for four years and she missed him so much. The long talks, the walks, the laughter all now memories in her mind.

She looked down at Anna, who was still drinking her bottle. The bottle was about half empty, so she withdrew the bottle to burp Anna. Anna protested a bit, but as she held her up on her shoulder she quieted down while Anna patted her back. Within a couple of minutes Anna burped and Sheila brought her down to feed her some more.  Anna’s eyes looked up at her as Sheila brought the bottle back to Anna’s mouth.  Anna eagerly drank from it.

She thought about the decision she made to open her home as a temporary place of refuge for single mother’s looking to get out of an environment that could cause long term harm to the mother and her children. It was a program designed to help women who could potentially face the reality of having their children taken from them. Sheila heard about it from her friend, Joanna. Joanna was also offering the same assistance to women in this program. The foster program staff were fabulous and did their best to make sure as many needs that needed to be met were being met.   This choice she had made to help young women was unusual for her, but she had a big heart, so she decided to take a risk. Stays were never long term, so she knew she would have reprieves.

Amber’s boyfriend was addicted to Methamphetamine and Amber was unable to work, because she could not afford childcare and her boyfriend was high so often he could not work. Amber had researched her options and when she found out about the Shelter of Refuge. She called them and was put on the waiting list. Last night she was given the opportunity to leave her home and Amber needed no further prompting as she observed again Rick’s state of drug induced high.

Isabella knew she was trying to assuage the guilt and shame she felt from the abortion. She had never told anyone, not even her husband, that she had gotten pregnant in college. Her boyfriend did not want to have anything to do with the baby and her parents encouraged her to have an abortion. So, she went and had the abortion. Within minutes of the doctor removing the baby from her, she experienced a profound sadness at losing a baby that would have been a part of her life. The doctor told her the baby was probably about 10 weeks old and a girl. She heard no crying like she had with her own sons and that was the hardest part of all. Just silence.

Whenever the topic of abortion came up she felt shame. All the memories would come flooding back and the grief and guilt were unbearable. She suffered alone all those years and nobody knew. She decided to go into therapy to see if that would help. It did help her through the loss of her husband, but she never could share about the pregnancy and ensuing abortion with her counselor. Her therapist, Priscilla, was kind enough, but she had a rock-solid faith and Sheila could not open herself up to judgment from her.

She looked at the abortion as a mistake and something that no one would forgive her for, much less God. Lately, Isabella found the grief encroaching on her more often.  Looking down at Anna, she hoped she could find some redemption from her past and at the same time help single mom’s get back on their feet. Anna was finished with her bottle so Isabella brought her to her shoulder to burp again. Finally, after much patting, Anna, let out a burp. Isabella brought Anna back down into her arms to rock her until she got sleepy.

She gazed out the window while she rocked Anna. The sky was clear and she could see the stars and the full moon. What a beautiful sight. She wished she could stay here forever and just bask in this moment. It is times like these that she sensed that God was there, although, she doubted he loved her, but she did sense he was there.

She heard a rustling in the next room. Amber was up probably to check on Anna. Sure enough Amber stood in the door way watching and enjoying the sight of another mom caring for her daughter with such love. Who is this woman that would take in a total stranger and a baby? Right now, she did not care why, she was just relieved she had a place to go until she found her own place to stay.

The scene the night before was atrocious. Ricky was high on drugs and the care worker said she had to come now or lose her place. Then the process would start all over again. Leaving was difficult, because Ricky was little Anna’s father and she thought when she had the baby he would turn his life around, but the drug was too addicting. The joy of having a child did not compare to the highs he experienced with drugs. Tonight, was the first night she slept until now without worrying about Ricky. It’s not that she wasn’t concerned, she just wasn’t consumed with worrying about him. She could not focus on taking care of Anna when she was around him.

And now in front of her was a woman who was holding little Anna with a smile that radiated from her face. Isabella truly had a mother’s heart. She hoped that they would get to know each other a little while she stayed here. She had a feeling there was more to helping her than just being a good person. Isabella continued to rock Anna until she was getting sleepier. She gently got up, placed her in her crib, and covered her with a blanket. When she turned towards the doorway, she saw Amber smiling at her.

They looked at each other knowing they were women now with the goal of helping Amber and Anna to achieve their goals. Isabella broke the silence and told Amber that Anna had been changed and fed. Amber quietly thanked her and feeling sleepy now said she was heading back to bed. She took one last look at Anna before heading towards her temporary bedroom and closing the door.

Isabella breathed a sigh of relief, she was too tired from all the emotions that were starting to unfold. One last look at Anna and she headed off to her own room to sleep. She doubted it would come quickly though given how she was feeling. Rest would be better though than sitting up, she thought. She closed the door to her room, took off her robe, and climbed into bed. Her muscles relaxed against the soft mattress. If David were here, she would be able to go to him and just cry in his arms. Instead she relied on herself as she had always done since his death.

She turned her face into the pillow and sobbed. Her baby, a little girl, was gone forever. She would have been 37 years old now, almost middle age. It grieved her so much that her only baby girl was aborted and she had no one to blame but herself.  As she cried she realized that she could never forgive herself for what she did. If she had known about the grief she would experience and what she was missing out on, she would never have gone through with it. And so she lived with this sadness every day. Her days were busy, but when she had quiet moments the sadness would sit in her heart causing so much pain.

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