I throw my alien hands up in despair at the inherent stupidity of the human reproductive system. If you can even call something so crazily haphazard a system. That can take a child so very far, all internal organs formed, limbs, fingers, toes, hair, eyes, nose, brain, and then still force their own mother's body to discard them.
I only took my children up to the very, very top of a high precipice. And then I let them go.
But I thought I'd give them a faint glimmer of a whisper of a chance of making it out alive.
Just for a bit of additional tension.
But never, ever ugly to me.
When I look back at the pictures, I am always shocked.
But my daughters look almost somehow indecent, appalling.
More naked than you or I would look if we stripped off all our clothes.
The soul too close to the skin, so near the surface that you can see the joins.
How they were made, how we are all made, is too glaringly obvious in those early pictures.
There is something there that makes people want to avert their eyes, From the pain of it. Or maybe from the beauty.
I was knocked absolutely sideways.
It seems somehow related.
My inability to mother my own existing two children and my seeming inability to have another child.
No goodness seems to spring from me, or from my husband, or from the kind of love that we once felt for one another.
Just illness and despair and death. I hope that time proves me wrong.
I wasn't able to pick up my child and comfort her. I watched a tear run from her eye, her mouth jammed full of ventilator and I could not offer anything. Unless the mixture of despair and love I felt during that moment was so strong that it somehow took on a tangible physical presence and drifted up to her where she lay in her incubator.
Those kind machines who looked after my children.
They gave one of my daughters back to me, just her and me. Alone. No more gentle mechanical helpers.
And she died.
Slowly but surely.
She died right there in my arms.
These same arms that are still attached to my body.
These same hands that I am using to type this.
I would have given anything to help her.
But I was just a bit of feeble flesh.
Without those electronics and metal and plastic, her body failed.
She stopped breathing and then, finally, her heart stopped beating.
And, in that moment, you realise that you have no say, no input, that your opinion and all of your mighty, mighty love cannot be of any assistance. Because death has all the cards.
When I contemplate the tremendous, hideous abyss between what I thought being pregnant and having children was about back on the 25th of August 2008 and what I believe now, my head feels as though it will simply twist and twist until it spins off my neck and vanishes off into the wild blue yonder, never to return.
I know now that I had false expectations.
I thought that if it wasn't done perfectly, it was a reflection on my worth as a wife, as a mother, as a woman.
Because there are people who put all their store in natural birth, in bonding, in breast feeding, in avoiding medication and medical assistance. Because there are carefully constructed birth plans. Because other people told me to make certain to do x,y or z. Because different people told me to make certain NOT to do x,y, or z.
I don't have a problem with that. If you have been lucky, you've probably still got it in you to sit and worry about those issues. But I won't be joining you. And I certainly won't be passing judgement on your birth plans or child rearing abilities.
What I don't like about this strange mythologising of pregnancy and childbirth, or implying that there is some magical 'correct' way to approach it, is that it somehow seems to makes me and my children less.
That it has made me judge myself and my attempts to have children as failure.
That it has made me feel ashamed because I found the birth of my tiny children painful.
When I should have been able to grit my teeth through the pain.
That we are, somehow, diminished or incapable.
Because we did not do it properly.
Because the girls were born too soon.
Because Georgina died.
But do you know what?
It was still beautiful. It was still amazing to see my children.
I gave birth. It was too soon. It was sad.
But I am not weak or a failure. Neither are my daughters.
I still think that all three of us did a good job, given what we had to work with.
We tried. Everyone does. We live and we try. I don't have time for all this judgey, judgey I gave birth to seven, eleven pounders naturally with nary a squeak. Well bully for you.
Their birth, surprising and agonising and quick and bloody as it was, does not change the strange beauty of my daughters or my love for them.
Nothing can stop that.
Not their appearance, their fragility, not illness, not those machines that stepped in and took over from me, nothing.
On a good day, I feel that even death can't put a stop to it.
People don't want to hear about the birth of my children. It makes them uncomfortable. But I don't care. I'm taking back the beauty and the mess. It's mine.
'You'll be given love
You'll be taken care of
You'll be given love
You have to trust it
Maybe not from the sources
You have poured yours
Maybe not from the directions
You are staring at.'
Some very (very) loving machines.