"It's normal," the doctor told me. "All new mothers handle post-partum differently. It's not unusual."
"But she keeps saying weird things," I told her, "like she has this strange desire to .. eat her."
"Look," she replied, "I was the same with my kids when they were newborns. Couldn't stop smelling them. Day and night, smelling them all over, their heads, their bellies, my husband thought I was LOCO, you know? It's OK, she'll be fine."
"But she says she wants to physically bite and chew!"
"Didn't your parents ever read you 'Where the Wild Things Are?' The author based the monsters on his aunts, who were always pinching his cheeks and saying they wanted to gobble him up. It's a metaphor, totally innocuous."
"OK," I said.
I closed the doctor's office door behind me to find Heather int he lobby with our new beautiful baby girl, three months old today. My wife looked up from where she had been nibbling on Charlotte's ear. Heather gave a little guilty smile and asked, "Did you get your answers?"
"Yeah," I said, "Doc says already cooing and only waking up once at night is pretty normal for this phase."
"Well good!" Heather said. "It's that good little Charlotte, yes, my scrumptious morsel!"
I sighed. I drove us all the way home.
Charlotte was already sleeping through the night, waking up for a bottle exactly at 2:35am, every single morning. I always heard her coo-cry, opened my eyes, and the LED lights said the same time, each time.
We had her crib in our bedroom, and that night Charlotte wanted the crib on her side of the bed. I don't know why I said yes. I don't know why,
... but I must have been on the same feeding schedule. I awoke at exactly 2:35. I saw the LED lights softly glowing red. But I did not hear the usual coo-cry.
That night, I heard something that sounded like a slurp. Then a soft gulp.
I turned over in the bed. I saw Heather's back to me, her head bent over the crib. Her head bobbed up and down. Charlotte did not make a sound.
"Heather," I said, and then suddenly I moved around her where I could see her, and Heather looked up at me with eyes wide and sparkling with this insane glee ....
and her mouth full of our flesh and blood.