A clump of cells with no heartbeat yet. Blood on my underpants. Tears. The fluids of potential motherhood. Doctors examining my uterus with a camera. You were still there; the size of a kidney bean.
A leap of faith.
Now, you, the size of a lemon. A heartbeat that contains the primal rhythm of the universe. Nails. Nasal bone. Ten little fingers.
Twenty weeks later I felt you move, but you didn’t do it often enough. The Internet said a glass of cold water would make you kick; my friends said hot chocolate. Old wives tales from back home mentioned chili. My online mothers’ group suggested orange juice—I tried them all but you never kicked.
I had daily nightmares. In those sweaty nights I would close my eyes and when sleep finally came I would see you trying to leave my uterus. You would move slowly, like a snail, working with the blood flow to get to the main arteries and crawl out of my body through my left ear, like Gargantua.
Another leap of faith.
You barely reached the size of a cantaloupe. A man held my shoulders. A nurse told me not to move. Then it hit. The anaesthetic entering my spine, travelling through my legs, numbing my lower body. Was your heart still beating? They placed me on a bed and wheeled me to surgery. Hands and familiar voices told me I would feel pressure on my abdomen. They blocked my view with a blue curtain. The obstetrician was talking about his son. I tried to find the reflection of my insides on the walls, on the surgical lamp… somewhere, but they had made sure no mother could see her own blood and fat and waters.
And then you cried.
Someone wrapped and placed you in my hands. There you were, covered in blood, vernix and hair. A boy with black hair. I caressed your red cheeks while the doctors stitched my uterus.
They wheeled us out of the surgical theatre. You in my arms. I didn’t want to drop you. I held you a bit tighter and you cried. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. They snatched you and took you away. They unwrapped you, held you by the legs, and weighted you. Please give him back.
A midwife placed you on my belly, still stained with our blood. Where they supposed to do that? What was the plan? You couldn’t move, but you did—a primitive crawl. You moved like a wounded soldier—swollen, purplish, hungry. You latched to my engorged breasts and you drank my milk—the fluid of life