For L.


The clammy forehead, the curve of his cheeks as he sleeps next to you. His eyelashes quivering, lips that close and open, raspberry red and plump. Yours, you remind yourself. Though you don't believe it yet.

You can't resist, there is no way. Your fingers reaching for his little hand, clenched into a fist. The one that shouldn't have been here. The one that you were told would never arrive. But you have managed to trick God.


"So you're hoping for a boy or a girl?" Always that question, irrelevant to you. Absurd in it's banality.

"Oh, you know, anything is fine with us," you answer, trying to keep your cool. A live one would be nice for a change, you want to add.

"Oh, but come on. You must have some preference…"

And this, this is how many friendships are ended, just fizzle out into nothingness, because you can't take it. Can't take the ignorance and the naivety. But it's more than that. What eats you up is the envy. It's not that you envy their perfect lives, or even their perfect children, though it is all that too. No. It's that complete faith in life, that stupid belief that you have any power or any control over anything. That innocence in believing that good things happen and that a pregnancy means a baby.

Because it doesn't. Not to you.

Two lines on a stick and you must pretend it never happened, that you haven't seen them. You don't tell anyone, because that would automatically mean immediate retribution from the universe. You sneak around, skulk in the shadows. You go about your day, holding your breath, hoping against all sense that if you don't make too much noise, if you don't for a second seem to care, God might forget you. Might fail to remember to rip you apart. Again.

It's either that or letting the fear grip you from the start. Obsessing, counting minutes, hours, days and weeks. Walking slowly, avoiding coffee, microwave ovens, red meat and cheeses, taking vitamins and supplements you never heard of. Not breathing, fixating on this one thing. Your superstition growing by the second.

If I don't look left, it will be alright. If I pretend to believe, it will be fine. If… If…

The way other people have children – by some secret code that you haven't cracked. Or maybe they are just more worthy. And you are not.

"Oh, surely you're safe now, you're past twelve weeks right?" they say.

And you have time to think that maybe. Maybe this time it will be fine. Time to feel that flutter of hope, for a second, Maybe this time you will be safe. Only to learn that there is no such thing. You can never be safe. Never.

"Oh well. You're young. You can always try again."

And you do. Over and over and over again. Until people start worrying that you have lost your mind. Talking about you behind your back. Hushed voices as you pass them down at the store. The pity, more humiliating than anything. Maybe some are just not meant to be mothers.

Or maybe that's just you.


He arrives out of nowhere.

He is your number eight. That's how you think nowadays. It's all about the numbers. If you make it past this specific date, this exact number of weeks you will be alright. But as soon as you do, a whole new set of numbers you weren't aware of, a new fear is introduced. As if you haven't had enough.

"It's too early, I don't think you should get your hopes up. The chance of survival is slim…" the doctor mumbles to you. He talks weeks and statistics as you lie there hooked up to monitors wanting to die. Or laugh, because it was a very long time since you got your hopes up about anything.

So you lie there. On your side. They strap machines to you. They trudge carefully by your hospital bed. They pump you full with drugs that make your heart race and your whole body jerk around. But you don't care. You don't care about that, or anything. To feel something is to die. You exist in a vacuum, you're an anomaly. You lie there, week in, week out and every week there is another crisis, another sad shake of a doctor's head.

"Don't get your hopes up…"

And you don't. Because you don't know how. Even as they wheel you into surgery many weeks later, smiling and asking if you're exited to finally meet him. You look at these people with weary eyes, and can't for the life of you muster up the feeling that this really concerns you. Can only think, as they set up the surgical cloth in front of you, "I'll believe it when I see it."


You're a strange species of mother. You hardly dare to look at him, for fear that God will see a chance to crush your happiness, will snatch him away from you. You can't love him. You don't' dare to.

In the car from the hospital, you have to close your eyes for the images assaulting you. An accident, his little body flung through the windscreen. His head crushed on the sidewalk. Because that's the sort of things that happen to you. Crap. One after another. You don't know how to expect anything else.


You know you're veering away from normal but you try not to let it show. And people ask if you're not happy now that you've finally got what you wanted.

You think you probably would be. If only you knew how. It has to be learned again, right from scratch. And it takes time. A lot of time.

"Is he a good sleeper?"

Yes. God, yes. But you're not. You are terrible, the way you lie there, vigilant and unable to close your eyes for the fear that at one point, randomly, completely out of nowhere, your pink-skinned child might stop breathing. Because you think, that if you relax, if you even dream of letting down your guard for one second, God will say,"Alright, I'm taking him back."

The way he lays there next to you, like a gift, something borrowed, you don't dare to say he's yours. Maybe you'll believe it one day.

You love it when he cries. Not because there is anything especially enjoyable about his shrill, demanding shrieks. Your hand sprawled across his little curved back, his little angry red face and that greedy toothless mouth that can be open at a ninety-degree angle. No, it isn't especially sweet or pleasant to listen to that, but when he does, you know for sure.

He is. Alive.