The baby wasn’t even cleaned. She hadn’t even spent five minutes in the world.
Her mom jutted her chin at the mother-in-law, wanting her to be the first woman in their family to greet the infant.
But the mother-in-law’s eyes widened, and she took a step back before turning around and hurrying out of the delivery room.
The mom watched with her mouth wide open. She was still reeling from fatigue. The last eighteen hours had been a trip like no other for her. But it had been worth it.
Her daughter gave her first cry, and the pain and agony turned into love and peace. The mom had hoped her mother-in-law would feel the same way. This baby was supposed to bridge their bleeding relationship.
The mom never expected things to take such a dark turn.
But what else did Jada expect from Alana, her mother-in-law? The woman had made her hate known for months now, treating Jada like she didn’t belong in their family.
Jada had been confident that this baby, her firstborn, would finally be reason enough for the woman to see her as family.
But her behavior in the delivery room told another story.
The Eternal Optimist
Jada Bennet had long been a woman of unwavering optimism. Since being a child, she’d carried an unmatched spirit of positivity that always radiated around her.
She believed in the inherent goodness of people and had a knack for finding the silver lining in the darkest clouds.
This characteristic defined her, shaping her interactions with the world.
The Meeting with Alana
The first challenge to Jada’s perpetual positivity arose when she encountered Alana, her mother-in-law-to-be. From the outset, Alana displayed a disheartening disapproval of Jada.
Rather than hiding her feelings, Alana candidly expressed her disdain, citing her son’s potential for a more prestigious match.
But Jada, who worked as a librarian, faced the disapproval with grace, determined to maintain her positive outlook.
The Unrelenting Critic
As Jada’s relationship with Danny, Alana’s son, progressed, so did Alana’s scrutiny. Her relentless criticism extended beyond mere disapproval of the relationship. Every action and every choice made by Jada became a target for criticism.
From scrutinizing Jada’s food to the way she dressed, Alana’s disdain seemed insurmountable.
It got so bad that Jada found herself seeking moments of solitude where she grappled with the weight of all this disapproval.
A Sudden Silence
Alana’s behavior persisted throughout the months Danny and Jada dated. It endured the months the two spent as an engaged couple and survived the months they spent as husband and wife.
But just when Jada thought the storm would never pass, Alana inexplicably withdrew. Calls to her house went unanswered as her presence became a distant memory.
The sudden silence perplexed Jada, but she embraced the reprieve, hoping it signalled a turning point in their strained relationship.
A Surprising Arrival
The unexpected peace shattered on the day of Jada’s delivery. In the midst of labor pains, Jada mustered the strength to inform Alana, hoping her presence would bridge the emotional gap.
To Jada’s surprise, Alana met her at the hospital, standing by her side for the entire 18-hour ordeal.
Hope blossomed within Jada that this shared experience might alter the dynamics between them. She should have known that this wouldn’t end well.
A Ray of Hope
With the baby’s arrival imminent, Jada instructed the nurse to allow Alana to hold the newborn before her—a gesture of goodwill in the hopes that the infant would be a catalyst for change.
She’d seen the care in Alana’s eyes, had felt it in her grasp and her voice as she egged her to push and remain strong.
However, what followed shattered Jada’s hopeful anticipation.
As the nurse placed the baby in Alana’s arms, a moment charged with potential, Alana’s eyes widened in what seemed like terror. She stepped back.
“Mom,” her son called her, begging her to hold the child. But without a word, she abruptly fled the room, leaving Jada bewildered and hurt.
The delivery room once filled with anticipation, now echoed with the hollow sound of dashed expectations. How could Alana do such a despicable thing?
Reckoning with Reality
Alone in the room, holding her newborn, Jada grappled with a mix of emotions. Disappointment and confusion crashed into each other within her as she tried to comprehend Alana’s unexpected reaction.
Wasn’t her baby meant to bring her and Alana closer? The bond Jada had hoped to forge through the shared experience of childbirth seemed more distant than ever.
If only she knew the reason behind Alana’s choice.
No Optimism Left
For the first time in her life, Jada didn’t feel an ounce of optimism flowing through her. The light that always shone within her heart had suddenly gone out.
It became worse when she realized that she wasn’t connecting with her baby as she should have.
She was constantly feeling sad and angry, feeling like she wasn’t worth anything in the world. But this was only the start.
Not Good Enough
Something had taken over Jada’s body. She would find herself crying from time to time without any reason. It’d get worse each time she remembered Alana leaving the delivery room. Her heart would shatter, and her eyes would blur with more tears.
It didn’t help that she wasn’t bonding with Aaliyah, her baby, either. She felt like she wasn’t a good mom.
She couldn’t even get Aaliyah to sleep or stop crying. She couldn’t get her to calm down. What was happening?
It Doesn’t Make Sense
Jada had always been good with kids. She loved them, and they loved her. But for some reason, her relationship with little Aaliyah was just as tumultuous as the one between her and her mother-in-law.
She couldn’t sleep at night and was having trouble keeping food down. By the end of the first week, she was overwhelmingly tired.
It wouldn’t take long before she was back at the hospital.
Jada’s husband, Danny, found himself between a rock and a hard place. A doctor by profession, he’d suspected to know what was happening to his wife.
But as her husband and someone who loved her to the moon and back, he couldn’t bring himself to accept what was happening.
But as the week came to an end, he knew he couldn’t let Jada continue suffering.
Danny still had to deal with his mom and what she’d done in the delivery room. But tending to Jada was more important right now.
He called one of his sisters to come watch over Aaliyah and drove Jada to the hospital. He was quick to get her admitted, shifting his outlook from husband to doctor.
He had a colleague run a few psychological and physical tests on Jada and was heartbroken when the results came.
Assessing The Situation
Danny had realized a few things in the first week after he and Jada welcomed their baby into the world. First, Jada was always withdrawn. She was constantly crying in the bathroom, thinking that Danny didn’t know.
She was having problems with Aaliyah–having a hard time caring for her. She wasn’t enjoying the things that she once did.
As someone who’d worked in the medical field for years, Danny knew what all this could allude to.
Although it was only suspicion at first, Danny feared he knew exactly what was going on with his beloved wife. But the results in his hands confirmed his fears.
He didn’t know how to tell Jada what was happening to her. He couldn’t bring more bad news to her doorstep.
He knew how much his mother’s behavior had destroyed her. This would drive her over the edge.
Doctor Vs. Husband
As a doctor, Danny needed to be frank with Jada. But as her husband, he couldn’t see her heart break one more time. How could he tell her the truth while shielding her from the turmoil it would cause?
How could he break the news without breaking whatever resolve she still had left? Danny took a deep breath, rubbing a hand down his face.
“I need to do this,” he whispered and turned around, ready to go into Jada’s room. But his eyes landed on a familiar face.
Where Have You Been?
“Mom,” Danny mouthed, surprised to see his mother in the same building he’d last seen her in. “Where have you been?” he asked, his eyes scanning her.
“We’ve worried sick, turning the town inside out looking for you.”
He was about to barrage her with questions when he realized something that had furrows digging into his forehead.
She Looks Tired
Danny realized that his mom looked just as bad as Jada did when he brought her in. Alana had heavy bags under her eyes and chapped lips. The whites of her eyes were bloodshot, and she kept asking for Jada.
“I need to see her,” she said every time Danny would ask her if she was okay. “Please,” she added. “It’s important.”
She kept repeating these words until Danny keeled over, taking her to Jada’s room.
“She hasn’t been doing great,” Danny reported, and her mom nodded, seeming unsurprised by the news. “I know,” she said.
Although visibly tired, she walked into the room with her spine straight and shoulders rolled back. Jada was asleep, so Alana took a seat beside her bed, inching a hand close to her.
The mother-in-law seemed to grapple with words before turning to her son. “Does she know?”
A New Look
“Know what?” Danny asked. He’d never seen his mom like this. She was usually the headstrong kind, always taking life’s beatings and blessings with her chin held high.
Today, she looked beaten– a new look for her. “Does she know what is happening to her?” she clarified. “She hasn’t been well for a week,” Danny reported. “We only brought her in a few hours ago.”
What his mom would say that night would put things in perspective.
“It’s good I came in as early as I did, then,” Alana said, her eyes glossy. One of the doctors had texted her as soon as Danny and Jada walked through the hospital’s main door. She held a hand out to Danny and, when he took it, said. “You can go home, rest. I’ll sit here with her, talk to her when she wakes up.”
Danny side-eyed her. In the years that his mom had known Jada, she’d never willingly asked to stay with her, especially not when Jada was ill.
“What’s going on, mom?” he asked.
“Nothing that you don’t already know, Danny. I want to be here when she wakes up. I need to set a few things straight.” Danny was about to talk, but Alana stopped him.
“I know I haven’t been the best… I know you guys don’t trust me. I am to blame for that. I also know what I am asking is a lot.
But please. I need to be here when she wakes up.”
“That is fine by me, mom. But I won’t leave her side.” “Fine,” Alana sighed. “Fine,” Danny said with a shrug, and Alana’s lips curled ever so slightly. “Fine. Have you had dinner?” she asked, and Danny nodded.
“We ate before we came here. I ate, at least. She didn’t even look at her food.”
Alana’s gaze shifted to Jada and the hand she had been inching toward the sleeping mom she finally placed on her belly.
A Great Choice
“I never told you this before,” she began, “but you made a great choice with her.” “Then why have you always treated her like she is the worst thing to ever happen to us?” Danny asked, his voice riddled with pain.
He saw the way his mom shifted in her seat and wondered if he’d pushed too far with his question.
But Alana took a deep breath and said, “I didn’t want to be replaced. You know how I am… Which… which mom wants to see her little boy go away with another woman regardless of how angelic the woman is?”
The Best Thing
“Bringing you up was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Alana said. “I just didn’t know how to let you go.” Her eyes grew wet with tears. “When Jada told the nurse to hand Aaliyah to me, I couldn’t take it. Not after everything.
For years, I had been the worst human being to her, and she returned that behavior with such a kind and wholesome act. Such a pure gesture. I… I need to make things right, to maybe pull her from the edge.”
She took a deep breath and added, “It’s the least I can do.”
Steel And Iron
Alana had long been a woman of steel and iron. Today, her son witnessed a side of her he’d never known existed – a vulnerable woman looking to redeem herself. “I need to have a heart-to-heart with her,” she said. “That’s why I asked you to leave her–us. Just for the night.”
Jada woke up to find her mother-in-law asleep beside her. Her heartbeat picked up as she realized she was in a hospital bed. The events of the previous day flooded her brain.
Yet they couldn’t overpower the one question running through her mind: why was Alana here?
It didn’t take long for Alana to wake up. The first thing she did was apologize for storming out of the delivery room when the nurse handed her baby Aaliyah. The second thing was to congratulate Jada on her successful birth. With those out of the way, she came clean about the reasons behind her harsh treatment and couldn’t stop begging for forgiveness.
She also explained that everything had hit home when, despite her behavior, Jada had invited her to the delivery room. Guilt had overwhelmed her when the nurse handed her the baby.
Would Jada ever find it in her heart to forgive her?
The Least She Can Do
Alana also broke the news about Jada’s condition, telling her she had postpartum depression – which wasn’t unheard of for moms after they gave birth. But she assured her that she’d help her through it. Postpartum depression can be treated in several ways.
As someone who’d given birth severally, Alana knew her way around the disorder.
She would do everything in her power to see that Jada returned to her old self. In her words, “It’s the least I can do.”