Nobody Knows For Sure by Amy Busse Perkins

Topic: Before Children

“Puuuush!  Push, push, push, push, push!”

Lanie collapsed back against the hospital bed, sweat matting her hair to her forehead. Her husband, James, held her left knee and the nurse held her right.

The nurse clutching her knee said, “Come on, Lanie. You can do this. Just a few pushes more.”

Her doctor’s voice from behind his mask sounded far away. “It won’t be much longer, Lanie. Just give me a few more good pushes. The head is crowning.”

James left his post and gazed at the apparent miracle happening between her thighs. “It’s amazing, Lanie. I can see some of hair.”

Lanie’s eyes filled with tears. She couldn’t do this anymore. She couldn’t push out this baby. Didn’t they know how tired she was? Couldn’t they see the exhaustion that went bone deep? Why didn’t they just leave her alone? What was she doing her anyway? She wasn’t possibly ready to be a mother.

Lanie told James on their third date that she didn’t know if she wanted to have children. They were eating at the diner on 3rd Street. On their second date Lanie confessed to James that she went there because they made a chocolate pie that was as good as the one her gramma used to make. Just before he’d picked her up, James had gotten a call from his mother that his kid sister had just produced his first nephew. He was so excited telling Lanie about the new member of his extended family and showing her the pictures in his wallet of his two little nieces that Lanie felt a twinge of guilt.

She really liked James. Even though this was only date number three, they had known each other for a lot longer. He worked for the same company she did, only in a different department. They saw each other at large company meetings. They seemed to ride the elevator together a lot, and they would trade comparisons about their annoying desk mates and the trivial concerns of each other’s day. James was just the kind of cute she liked: intelligent face, warm brown eyes, glasses, and brown hair with one soft lock that fell across his forehead. She had hoped he would ask her out a long time ago. But their mutual shyness stopped both of them in their tracks.

Until two weeks ago. It was a Wednesday and James rushed to catch the elevator down with her as she was leaving for the day. Clearing his throat several times, he stared at the button panel in front of him, and said, “So I’m hungry. There’s no food in my house, and I know my roommate has a date at the apartment tonight. Want to get some dinner with me?”

Watching James talk about his nieces and the games he played with them when he babysat, Lanie knew James was a man who wanted to be father, deserved to be a father. How could she lead him on? As much as she liked him, she needed to tell him before it was too late.

“I don’t think I want kids. I don’t know if I’d make a very good mother.”

James considered her carefully, eyes serious. “I guess nobody knows that for sure until it happens.”

“Puuuuush!  Push, push, push, push, push!”

“Lanie, I know you’re tired. But you can do this. You’ve got to push this baby out.” The nurse smiled at her with these words, but her grip on Lanie’s knee tightened. James wiped the hair off her forehead and smiled at her.

“Come on, honey.  I know you can do it.”

Lanie struggled back up into a sitting position.

“Puuuuuush! Push, push, push, push, push!”

She still didn’t know how she’d gotten here, to this hospital, this room, this uncomfortable bed, pushing out a baby she was never sure she wanted. But she didn’t think she’d fall in love and get married either. James changed that. But this? Motherhood? Mommy? She couldn’t even get the kid out, much less take care of it when it was actually here.

“Push, Lanie!  Push.”

Crying, Lanie took a deep breath and pushed. The pain was worse than the broken leg she’d gotten skiing. It hurt more than the time she’d fallen out of the tree house and landed on her arm. It hurt more than anything she’d ever known or felt or imagined before. But with one final push, she felt the head, then the shoulders, then the rest of the baby slide out. The doctor was holding a baby, her baby. Her daughter.

“It’s a girl!”

The tiny creature went from a soft gray to pink as she opened her mouth and let out a wail at the shock of this new world. The doctor laid her on Lanie’s stomach and she put her shaking arms out to hold this new little person. James kissed Lanie’s head, tears streaming unnoticed down his cheeks.

The nurse picked her up and began to clean her off, suck out her mouth and nose, drop some liquid into her eyes. They weighed and measured her. It seemed too long to Lanie, who reached out her arms for her child. She still didn’t know if she’d be a good mother or not. But funny how this was what she’d wanted all along.

2 Responses to “Nobody Knows For Sure by Amy Busse Perkins”
  1. TJ Alexian says:

    You never know what you were missing until you have it. Nice story!

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