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Baby Pink || by Amy Mullane

IT'S BEEN OVER A YEAR since they lost what would have been their third child—their first girl. Their two boys, still too young to fully understand, slept soundly across the hall. It was around the same time Anna's bedroom became the inside of a vacuum. The windows, even while fully ajar, offered no respite from the mugginess of the atmosphere that encircled her. James curled up next to her night after night, seemingly unfazed to the lack of breathable air circulating throughout the bedroom. This annoyed her, not only that he doesn't seem to have the same pressure on his chest in this room, but also just how very understanding he had been to her constant tossing and desire to have every window and fan on even in the dead of winter. He lay next to her sleeping peacefully, his feet and nose icy despite wearing his thickest pullover. Anna wished she didn’t resent him for his ability to sleep—or even the fact she had broached sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable but he refused to hear it. Instead he decided to do his utmost to make the bedroom hospitable for her with use of multiple fans, humidifiers, and air purifiers. None of it worked of course, and when it came to bed time she would lie sleeplessly, going to the kitchen felt like she was resurfacing from a body of water. He found her once, asleep with her cheek on the cool tile of the kitchen floor and picked her up—she awoke the moment he placed her back on their bed. The cycle continued. In order to try to spare him from her further unwarranted rage and resentments she had taken to waiting for him to fall asleep and then going to the couch to get a few hours, setting her alarm to awaken and go back into their bed before she's discovered. It truly was the dullest secret on record within a marriage in history. 


This worked for a while but eventually the smothering seeped from the bedroom to the couch and engulfed the entire bottom floor of the house. She took to looking at her smart phone for hours, the cracked screen offering some relief from the hours spent staring at paint cracks on the ceiling, the peeling moulding corners. Her home was rotting inside out. She spent hours watching the videos of the smiley faces of those living idyllic lives as a comfort—but as the nights marched on with broken sleep, irritation started to build. She found herself tutting and rolling her eyes at fellow mothers who posted lengthy essays under filtered images on self love, motherhood—being a picture perfect wife. She began to feel as though these posts were directly criticising her mothering, her as a wife—her as a woman. Even with her lack of sleep she brought her kids to school every morning, shoulders tense and jaw locked at them yowling and fighting each other in the back seat. As the days crept on she started to snap more, her patience dissolving, glaring at her children as they sleepily missed their bowls while pouring cereal. As soon as they were in school and she had time to look at her phone after the clean up, the guilt would sink in. Mothers who had children in the same age group as her two, posting images of them, doting and full of love. Images of tight hugs and toothy grins plagued her. The familiar sinking feeling within her chest knowing her children were sent to school with a hastily packaged sandwich, completely polarizing to children under the ‘#schoollunchprep’ posts. She had previously paid no mind to social media in that way, of course she had seen parents from the same area lavishly posting about the newest console they treated their kids to but she was able to brush it off. She consoled herself with knowing expensive gifts don’t make a good mother. As the nights dragged on it became harder to stomach - the rusty taste of blood filling her mouth from biting the inside of her cheek. There was one particular mother—Paula, a perfectly lovely woman she recalls from speaking to her after the parent teacher meeting last winter—who fuelled this rage. She found herself unable to stop herself from viewing her stories and posts night after night, her resentment growing. 


The evening of a particularly exhausting day, she found herself yet again on the lumpy couch, the stifling blanket thrown to the floor. Her muscles ached and her body cried out for rest that wouldn’t come. Defeated, she unplugged her phone from the charger on the side table. She went to Instagram and the first image to appear on the top of her feed was from Paula—a sonogram picture. Her heart sank reading the caption. 



mamapaulaxo


That’s right gang! We’re having another darling girl to join our family πŸ‘ΆπŸ» I feel so grateful... I have no words. Ooh I can’t wait for all the pink! We love you little girl, we can’t wait to meet you! From Your mommy, Daddy, Big brothers David and Jesse and Big sissy Ellie xoxoox 


She felt bile rise to her throat, a baby girl—Paula was having another baby girl. Her mind swayed back to her giddily looking at frilly dresses and bows while shopping with her own mother, she was only a few weeks in then. The different shades of pink bedroom paint samples she looked at with James,  the ones she would find herself reciting catatonic when she saw the blood on the sheets. 


“There are many causes for a miscarriage, you musn’t blame yourself…”


Cerise...Magenta...Rose…


Just breathe, everything is okay…”


Salmon...Bubblegum...Taffy…


“What's important now is to ensure both you and your husband have the emotional support needed…” 


Flamingo...Peony...Coral...


“Would you like to see her? Would you like to hold her?” 


Fuschia...Rouge...Baby Pink…


“She’s so beautiful…”


Baby Pink…


Baby Pink…


Baby Pink…


Baby Pink...



Her heart was racing, a sour lump in her throat threatening. She got up, her hand covering her mouth to try to hold back the sobs about to surface. She couldn’t risk James or one of the kids awakening and seeing her like this. She had to be strong, she had to be the mother. She ran the cold water tap and cupped it between her hands bringing it to her face, washing away the signs of grief. She gripped the sides of the sink until her knuckles whitened to steady her shaking hands—fighting off what compelled her. The piriton wasn’t working; she was alert and full of rage at the inherent injustice of the universe.


She went back to her phone. 


>Click on username

> Add account 

> Create new account 

> Create username 


She looked around the room. 


> throwpillow88_ ✔️ 


> Create a password


> babypink 


Welcome to Instagram, throwpillow88_ 


Complete sign up ✔️ 


She knew what to search and what to do - she knew what would make her feel better. 



mamapaulaxo


Comments (121): 



spexylexi99

 6 months pregnant!! You barely look it , you lasher! Congrats! πŸ˜‚

4h  2 likes Reply


lynda993838

❤️

4h  1 like Reply


marie.louise.009

😍congrats another addition to a beautiful family xx

4h  Like Reply


graciestacey999

Congratulations to you all, best mother! 

4h Like Reply


throwpillow88_ 


U dont deserve that baby!! Showing off ur whole lives online u should be ashamed!!! Poor baby >:( BAD MOTHER!!! 

1 sec Reply


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She put the phone down. She cocooned herself inside the blanket, shivering. She knew she would sleep but that it won’t last. 


Fuschia...Rose...Baby Pink...




Image Credit: ©Dreamstime



MEET THE AUTHOR:

AMY MULLANE is a writer from the northside of Cork City, Ireland. They have been published in various online publications, specialising in short/flash fiction. They are the co-editor for Strukturriss literary journal.

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