I gave her a grandchild, but she gave me a family
She wanted to steal my baby. That was the only reason my mother-in-law stood in my minuscule living room with a new, yellow stroller. She claimed it was a gift, but my postpartum, sleep-deprived brain created a different scenario, one where I was merely a breeder for my husband’s family.
It made sense. My husband had no cousins, and Molly had lost five pregnancies and suffered a stillbirth before having James, her only child. Even though she never shared the details of her losses, I knew she dreamed of a large family — something me and my fertile womb could provide.
“Let me take Ryan for a walk.” Molly extended her arms. “You need rest. You’ve been up for days.”
I clung to my newborn son with one arm and pulled a knit blanket over my lap with the other. My breasts ached from nursing, my groin ached from childbirth, and my heart ached from the non-stop coverage of 9–11 that I couldn’t stop watching.
It was September 23, 2001, and Ryan was three weeks old. The world had fallen apart, and now my mother-in-law wanted to steal my baby.
Molly sat next to me and rested her hand on my shoulder as I cradled my sleeping son. “Mia, you need to rest. Let me help you.”
Until I met Molly, I lacked a positive example of motherhood. My own mother left when I was six, and our relationship consisted of sporadic contact and discomfort. The idea that a mother could love not just her own children, but her chosen ones too, was foreign to me.
For the past year, James and I had lived in the flat above Molly and my father-in-law, but I had mostly kept my distance. I knew once Molly got to know me, she’d dislike me just like my own mother.
“Please.” Molly stood, and her 4’10” frame towered over me. “I’m going to take Ryan for an hour, and you’re going to turn off the TV. Your brain needs rest.” She gently lifted Ryan, and the sudden weightlessness in my empty arms disorientated me. I had rarely put my son down since bringing him home.
“What if he needs me?” My eyes burned from lack of sleep, but I needed to prove I was a good mother — which meant tending to my son…