Week 3: Monday

Marylee watched her baby girl sleep soundly in her crib with a worried expression on her face. “I don’t get it,” she mused to her husband. “She screams at the top of her lungs whenever we take her outside and won’t calm down until she’s inside again, but the rest of the time, she hardly makes a sound. It’s almost as if she prefers to be left alone. I’m not sure that’s healthy for a baby. Do you think we should take her back to the hospital? Maybe there’s something wrong with her that the doctors missed the last time.”

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“Marylee, I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with her. She looks perfectly healthy to me. Some babies are just that way. They all have different personalities,” he reminded her. Marylee shrugged and sighed.

“I guess,” she admitted. Marcie did look to be in perfect health, which was a miracle, considering the near-death experience they had both had during delivery.

“How are you feeling?” Christopher asked.

“Still a little shaky. I need to sit down sometimes and get some strength back, but I’m feeling better,” she told him truthfully with a smile. He kissed her.

“Good,” he said. “I’m going to go to work. Call me if you need me. I love you,” he told her before he left.

Marylee bit her lip nervously. This was the first time she’d been left alone with Marcie. She looked so fragile and tiny. Marylee was afraid of accidentally hurting her. Marcie woke up and started to cry and Marylee picked her up gently, unsure of what to do. At first, she just held her and hummed, thinking she was just cranky, but Marcie wouldn’t stop crying. Don’t panic, Marylee told herself. I’m sure she just wants something you haven’t guessed, yet, but you will. “Hey baby, is your diaper wet?” she cooed.

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Marcie’s diaper was still nice and dry, but she was still wailing. It took Marylee a few minutes, but she finally figured out that she was hungry. Marcie suckled happily on the bottle and made soft gurgling noises. She’s so beautiful… Marylee sighed to herself. How could I have ever not wanted her? She’s so precious.

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When Marcie finished her bottle, Marylee snuggled her daughter close to her before gently placing her back in her crib. She looked around her baby’s room proudly. She and Christopher had been able to provide for their child, after all. After she was born, Marylee was shocked and delighted that they had enough funds left over to purchase lighting for the house, so now every room in the house had a light. They still needed to furnish the living room. Ervin the Minnow was the only occupant of that room, but Marylee was glad that her baby had everything she needed.

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Marylee was hungry herself, so she walked into the kitchen, but quickly lost her appetite. The stove was disgusting. She saw a note from Christopher stuck to the fridge.

Marylee,

I cleaned the counter for you this morning. I hope it helps free up some time to be with Marcie today.

Love,
Christopher.

Marylee scowled. He thought that running a sponge over a counter a couple of times qualified as cleaning? It would take her hours to scrub the grime and old food out of the stove. She’d have to remove all the burners and soak them in the bathroom sink, since they had put off adding to the kitchen for the sake of purchasing the baby’s things. He did try to help, she reminded herself, but it was hard to see his side when she was still recovering from childbirth and she had a baby to take care of.

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Grumbling to herself, she started scrubbing the stove. She was dizzy by the time she had finished and had to sit down for a few minutes to gain her strength back. Once she had, she went to soak the burners in the bathroom sink, but noticed that the sink and toilet were also filthy. Agitated, she cleaned them both, only to find out that the sink was broken when she turned on the taps to rinse the cleaners down the drain. Water spurted up in her face and she cried out in surprise and aggravation, futilely trying to stem the flow of water with her hands.

“Ugh! I can’t believe this!” she cried. She had no idea how to fix the sink. She’d never fixed anything before. That had always been Christopher’s job. While not exactly a handy guy, he knew how to fix basic everyday objects.

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Marylee heard shrill cries from Marcie’s room. Marylee’s aggravated shouts had woken her. Marylee’s every instinct told her to forget about the sink for now and tend to her child, but water was seeping all over the floor and out in the living room. If she left it, the water would cause mould and mildew in the carpet and it was dangerous for Marcie to be playing near that and breathing it in. Plus they didn’t have the money to replace the carpet. “In a minute, baby! Mommy’s coming!” Marylee called, while she pulled out a wrench and started to thunk the sink in random places, hoping she would accidentally whack something that fixed the sink. That was her best hope.

With every cry she heard from Marcie’s room that she ignored to fix the sink, Marylee’s pale blue eyes filled with tears. I’m neglecting my baby, she couldn’t help but accuse herself. She kept assuring Marcie that she was coming, but she wasn’t sure whether Marcie heard, understood or even cared. She just kept crying for her mother, who wasn’t coming. “Why won’t you fix!” Marylee shouted at the sink, angrily thunking it hard across the faucet. The water stopped. Marylee stood there, stunned for a moment, then turned on the tap to make sure it worked. The water flow was a little stunted, but it still worked. Maybe she had dented a leaking pipe. In any case, the sink was fixed… sort of. She quickly mopped up the water on the floor and ran to her baby’s room.

“It’s okay, Marcie. Mommy’s here now,” Marylee assured her, holding her close. The poor baby had been lonely. Marylee’s doubts about being a parent came back. Having no one at home to talk to, she talked to her daughter in her arms.

“I know you probably thought I didn’t love you when you were still inside me. I kept saying how much I didn’t want you, but I always loved you. I was just scared; scared that I wouldn’t be able to provide for you; scared that I was too young to handle being a mom; scared that you would grow up not having the things you need; scared that I would be too self-absorbed to take care of you; scared that you wouldn’t like me or grow up to resent me; scared that I wouldn’t be a good mom to you… I wanted to have you when I could give you so much more than just this tiny bare house. The truth is, I love you so much, I couldn’t bear to bring you into this kind of poverty…” Marylee choked out.

Marcie giggled and pulled on her mother’s blonde hair. Despite wincing at the pain and gently pulling her daughter’s hand away, Marylee smiled. “You’re so beautiful. Before you were born, I didn’t want you… at least, I didn’t want you just yet, but now that you’re here, I can’t imagine ever letting you go,” she admitted. It was true. Marcie was the light of Marylee’s life, and even though she was still terrified of being a mother, Marcie made her want to be the best mother possible. She was just worried about not being able to live her dream of becoming a rich and famous star because of her duties as a mother.

With a small smile, Marylee leaned close to Marcie and whispered in her ear. “In fact, I think I want another little girl. Would you like a little sister, Marcie?”

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“I’m home!” she heard Christopher’s voice from the hallway. “And I got promoted!” Marcie giggled and cooed at the sound of her father’s voice and Marylee jumped, as though she had been caught trying to cook Ervin for dinner. Relax, he didn’t hear anything, she assured herself. She had never thought she’d want another baby after Marcie, but she loved Marcie so much, she wanted another one to love, too. She knew Christopher wouldn’t be happy. He would say that it was too dangerous for her to be having another baby; she nearly died the last time and so had Marcie. He’d also say they couldn’t afford another baby. He was right about that last argument, at least. They had scraped pennies together to pay for the things Marcie needed and they still needed to furnish the living room and add to the kitchen.

Christopher walked into the bedroom and his whole face lit up when he saw his daughter in Marylee’s arms. He rushed over and played with her, making her laugh. “How’s my baby girl?” he asked her. “Did you miss Daddy?” Marylee smiled softly to herself. He was such a good father. She forgot to yell at him for leaving the house a mess that morning. He didn’t leave messes very often, and it really wasn’t a big deal. She had been home all day, anyway. Christopher put his daughter in her crib with an affectionate belly rub, then turned to kiss his wife.

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“How was your day?” he asked. Marylee shrugged.

“The sink broke. I had no idea how to fix it, but I think I dented the pipe that was leaking and that stopped the water spraying all over the place and the tap still works, but I think that’s only a temporary fix,” she told him. “Marcie was pretty good. She didn’t cry too much today, but I’m still exhausted. I think it’s from the birth, though.” Christopher nodded.

“I’ll take a look at the sink when I get a chance. You should lie down,” he told her. He looked just as exhausted as she felt. She guessed the new baby was taking a toll on him, too.

“Congratulations on your promotion,” she smiled. Christopher beamed, looking very proud of himself.

“Thanks. I’m now a Spice Runner. It’s great, because I don’t just clean up messes and do dirty work anymore. They’re actually letting me help cook! With spices! It’s important to know what spices and how much of them to put in a dish. A dish can be perfected or ruined with a simple spice, you know, so it’s pretty exciting that I get to be in charge of that. It’s a lot to remember, though. There are a lot of spices and a lot of dishes…” he admitted, scratching his head. he turned to Marcie in her crib and smiled. “Daddy’s going to work hard for you. Would you like a pretty dollhouse for your birthday, Angel?” he cooed.

Marylee had no idea how much Christopher loved his new job. She thought he’d just taken it for some extra money. She scolded herself for being self-absorbed again. She knew no one could change their personality completely, but she wanted to try hard to focus more on other people and put herself second. Sometimes, she wasn’t sure if she was doing a good job of it…

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