three years* later

It started as a call inward, a tightening, pulling my attention away from the restaurant and the conversation and my quesadilla. Eventually I discerned a rhythm to the calls, and they began to apprach pain. At home, I remember gripping the leather back of our rust-coloured chairs and shimmying away the pain. When the midwives came, I remember looking at the crack that ran across the plaster ceiling of our old spare room, and thinking we might not get a baby at the end of this. In the hospital, I had to labour on my left side, because the monitor on my belly said your heartrate plummeted every time I sat or stood upright. I remember holding the bars of the bed, and feeling I might lose my mind with the pain, that surely that meant I was in transition. But I wasn’t; nowhere near it.

It was a relief when the doctor said it was time for a section (although I bristled at his short-form, which sounded more like vivisection than was really appropriate, in my opinion). On the table, I felt like Jesus with my arms strapped down, perpendicular to my body, and I was grateful for the anaestesiologist whispering in my ear, sweet nothings like “don’t worry, that feeling is normal, you won’t actually stop breathing,” and “you’ll feel some pressure now” and finally, “It’s a boy!” A whisper of an exclamation mark then silence. Long silence.

The midwife told me you had red hair, as excited as if she’d just given birth herself. Finally you squawked, from the other side of the room, and someone brought you, swaddled, to my side so I could look for a moment. “Hi baby,” I said, your pointy, old-man’s face getting smeared by my tears.

“Why don’t you kiss him?” the midwife suggested.

So I did, awkwardly.


* plus five days.

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