Monday, 18 April 2011


The elusive state of 'heavily' pregnant, that I seem to have been chasing for such a long time, makes me feel like a balloon.
A void with a thin scraping of me over the surface.
A hole filled with mysterious, shifting flesh. Digesting, fluttering, breathing, expanding.
Muscles that move and twitch without being directly instructed.
And another consciousness flickering. Those same fleshy processes repeating themselves inside.
Only a duplicate this time. Forget the initial over ambitious triplicate process and the other that never even got off the ground. Goodbye to all that.
As I get bigger, as this baby grows, I feel as though I am shrinking, thinning.
Nobody wants to know what I am thinking, not really. To admit to any doubt or fear at this point would be somewhat impolite. Shocking. Ungrateful. So I stretch my lips into a smile and discuss names, age gaps, Jessica's likely reaction. My mouth is not quite stretchy enough to wrap round the words 'birth plan' or 'everything will be fine this time', not quite yet.
Sometimes I feel that I have been stretching my lips upwards for so long that my smile might even be genuine.
If a little taut.

I'm not even sure that I feel frightened any longer, it all feels so very far beyond my control.
I hold my belly and I can feel this baby's movements. New and strange. I barely felt movement from the twins before they were born. My scrabbling fingers reach to try and hold him here, to stop him slipping away from me. But, despite only being separated by skin, he feels as distant as his sisters. One with her own existence, one without.
His limbs stretch. My skin stretches to accommodate them.
We both stretch together.


I was worried that when I became a mother, particularly a mother of twins, that I would forget who I was. I was very concerned that I would lose the things that defined me, that I was proud of.
I was worried that I would lose (in no particular order). . . . friends who did not have any children, my husband, my figure, my career, my ability to walk in five inch heels, time to apply an entire face full of make-up, time to read books and watch films, the time and place to drink myself into a semi-silly state, my ability to concentrate, my ability to earn money. . . .the list goes on. All of these seem fairly stupid and trivial in the light of what I did lose, which was all of the above and then some.

To be honest, people who had children used to irritate me. They seemed smug, with their 'oh you'll feel differently when you have your own' and their 'you can't understand x, y or z until you've had children of your own' as though, by failing to reproduce myself, I had also failed some test of emotional intelligence or humanity. That I couldn't possible understand them with their mighty depths and their wondrous insights into the inner workings of the universe. Because they'd managed to do something as mundane and everyday as have children? Hrrumph. As I said. Irritating. I didn't appreciate being told that I simply couldn't understand them with their children. It hurt my pride.

But, as it turns out, there are a huge number of things that I cannot understand. Higher maths, other people, religion, the meaning of life, biology, death. If it is any consolation to me, at least I can say I'm not the only one.

I still don't understand those wise parents who told me that everything would become clear when I had children of my own. That I would be glad I hadn't taken that promotion, or a risk with a larger mortgage, or gone back to university. Because, at last, I would understand.

But, when my children were born, I understood less than I ever did. Big gaps opened up in the meagre little pile o' knowledge that I believed I had accumulated.
I became less like those parents I knew, less like anyone that I knew.
Other people's motivations and lives became even more incoherent and strange, not less.
An experience I thought would bond me to people, to my family . . . didn't. It just left me stranded, in a weird no man's land, where the only people I feel understand live inside my computer.

Sometimes when I look at Jessica, I am not entirely sure which one of us is, in fact, me. Perhaps it comes of trying to anticipate her, trying to understand her, spending so much time with someone who I can't really communicate a great deal with by way of the spoken word. Spending so long staring into those eyes and listening to those sounds. I press my nose into the back of her neck and, momentarily, want to merge us back together. Part of me wants to be her. I feel consumed. Perhaps all parents feel this way? All her life, I have watched Jessica. From outside an incubator, from across our living room floor. Watching. I spent hours every day for months simply watching Jessica because it was all I could do.

But, another part of me, is desperately trying to maintain a similar relationship with a child who is dead. Georgina consumes me just as much. It is hard to try and inhabit the consciousness of someone who is dead, who hardly lived, who I scarcely know. To understand my other daughter. To try and forge something from such a short space of time, without the feedback that we get from the living. Georgina will never smile or stamp her feet at me.
But I can't bring myself to let go of the threads that stretch between us. Be they all in my imagination or not. Perhaps they don't stretch to anywhere at all, simply loop towards me and bury themselves in my back.
But I know where I want them to go. To my child.