The Story I Told Myself to Lift my Spirits While Mothering

The Baby Story

Johanny Ortega


Photo by Austin Wade on Unsplash

“Do you want me to tell you The Baby Story?” I asked the curly hair boy tucked in his second-hand toddler bed that I got from a couple who was changing duty stations.

My baby, as if the day had not been arduous. As if I hadn’t lost my cool more times than I cared to remember, nodded his head with so much enthusiasm his beachy curls bobbed covering up his eye for a few seconds. He had heard this story many times. It was the story I told him to remind him that no matter what happens during the day, he was and will always be my gift.

Deep inside, I knew it was a story I told myself to remind me that this was the gift, I chose. Motherhood was terrifying most of the time and frustrating for a good chunk of it. Hence, I had to hold on to these times when it was just him and I. Our obnoxiously loud air conditioning and second-hand mismatched furniture. And The Baby Story—our story.

“Okay, but you have to listen.”

My baby’s eyes went super wide, and once again, his curls tussled when he nodded. Those were my curls, my nose, my lips. ‘Pin-pun,’ my family would say. Pin-pun means ‘just like you’ in Dominican slang. Back then, I used to wonder if that’s why his dad left. There was so little of him in our baby.

“A long, long time ago, Mami felt a big pain in her belly.”

I pressed my hand to my stomach and leaned over in fake pain. This always elicited gasps from my son.

“You okay, Mami?”

I stood straight. “Yes, Yes. It’s The Baby Story, remember?”

I hated that he worried. I never wanted him to worry. That was not his job. It was all mine.

“Next thing you know,” I continued. I pressed my lips together and made a pop sound.

“Water, so much water came out of me.”

“Why you have water Mami?” he asked. Not because he didn’t know but because he wanted to hear one of his favorite parts.

“Because you used to swim in here,” I filled my stomach with air. God knew that was the only thing in there and pointed at it. I made the shark swimming motion afterward, and it never failed to make him laugh.



Johanny Ortega

Johanny Ortega has lived many lives. To figure out her broken pieces she writes about her experiences to learn how to heal. Heal together by subscribing.