Protecting Her
Author:Allie Everhart

Garret is still crying and I don’t know what to do. The nurses told me infants find it soothing to be wrapped in a tightly bundled blanket, but I have no idea how to do that. I watched the nurse do it and it looked like she was doing origami. I take Garret’s blanket and attempt to bundle him up the way the nurses did, but I can’t figure it out. I give up and just wrap the blanket around him, then pick him up, and finally, the crying slows and eventually stops.

I haven’t even been home for an hour and I’m already exhausted. Rachel’s right. I need help. I can’t do this alone. But I have no one to call.

Royce and Victoria had a baby in July, but they wouldn’t be of any help. They’ve had a nanny taking care of their daughter since the day she came home from the hospital.

Maybe I should call my mother. As Rachel said, I’m sure my mother took care of me at least some of the time. She must know something about babies. I have no one else to call so I decide to just call her and tell her the news. Maybe I’ll ask for her help, or maybe I won’t. It’ll depend on how the call goes.

I bring Garret downstairs and go in the family room and sit on the couch. He’s quieted down now and is watching me again, probably realizing how incompetent I am and wishing he was back at the hospital.

The phone is next to me on the table. I pick it up and call my parents’ number, but then remember that they have the hired help screen their calls. The help has been instructed not to put my calls through. That’s why I haven’t even bothered trying to call my parents for over a year, not even on Christmas.

“Kensington residence,” someone answers. Probably the maid.

“I need to speak with Eleanor, please.”

“Who may I ask is calling?”

I consider lying, but then change my mind. “Pearce. Eleanor’s son.”

There’s silence and then, “One moment, please.”

At least she didn’t hang up. Perhaps she’s new and doesn’t know the rules. I wait for her to return and tell me that my mother is busy, or out somewhere, or whatever other excuse my mother gave her.

“Pearce.” It’s my mother’s voice. “Are you there?”

“Yes. Hello, Mother. How have you been?”

“Fine.” That’s always her answer. She’s always fine. “And how have you been?”

“Good. Very good.”

“Work is going well?”

“Yes. It’s going very well.”

The phone is silent. She doesn’t know what to say. I’m surprised she’s not asking me about the pregnancy. I know her gossiping friends told her about it. Victoria knew Rachel was pregnant and she’s the queen of gossip.

“I was calling, Mother, to tell you that Rachel and I had a baby.”

“Oh. Well, congratulations.” She sounds odd. I can’t tell if she’s happy for me or not. “What did you have?”

“A boy. We named him Garret.” As I say his name, I look down at him in my arms. He’s watching me again and I smile.

“That’s a nice name,” she says.

Was that a compliment? If so, it would be the first one I’ve heard from her in years.

Garret fusses and I rock him a little in my arms.

“Is that the baby?” my mother asks.

“Yes. I’m holding him.”

“Are you at the hospital?”

“No. I’m at home.”

“Why doesn’t your wife have him?”

My mother is someone who finds it odd for men to be involved in childcare, so I’m not surprised by her question. I’m sure my father never held me when I was a baby.

“Rachel is still in the hospital,” I say. “There were complications during the delivery. She lost a lot of blood so they’re keeping her there for a few days.”

“But you have a nanny, of course.”

“No. We chose not to hire one. We’d rather care for Garret ourselves.”

“You can’t care for a baby, Pearce. Not by yourself. Babies are a lot of work.”

“Yes. I know. I’ve only been home with him for an hour and I’m already feeling overwhelmed.”

“I’ll come right over. Where do you live?”

I almost drop the phone. She’s actually coming over? Without my having to ask?

“Thank you, Mother. I would appreciate the help.” I give her the address and she says she’ll leave right away.

I can’t believe this. Is she not angry with me anymore? Or does she just want to see her grandson?

Garret’s now asleep in my arms. I’m afraid if I move, he’ll start crying again. I turn on the TV, lowering the volume so he doesn’t wake up. I flip through the channels, stopping on a cartoon.

When I was a child, I never watched cartoons. I wasn’t allowed to. We only had one TV in the house and my father used it mainly to watch financial news. I’m going to let Garret watch cartoons. I’m not going to rob him of his childhood the way my parents took mine.