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Image by Matt Hoffmann

‘This is what I tell you’

I tell you where you come from before you have even asked. I was told to do this. “Nappie talks,” I call these one sided conversations where you touch parts of your body while I wash you and dress you . I tell you if this part of you looks like me or not. Some parts are clearly of my origin. Others are not. 

I tell you I wanted you so badly that out of the wish sprang a little life, and that grew and grew and became you. Ten toes, ten fingers. The first not bearing any resemblance to mine and the latter clearly showing the family traits of strong hands capable of fine brush strokes as well as hard manual labour.  You can be both, I assure you again and again. You can be anything.

I tell you I asked a doctor to help me. Once you know what a doctor is. That doctor put a seed inside me. That seed grew inside my belly and became a baby and that baby was you. One night in February I woke with my tummy aching and went to a house with comfortable big beds and giant tubs and there you were born. You widen your eyes in amazement that tubs can be double the size of ours. You love the water. Like him? I wonder sometimes. After you were born, we went home and stayed with your grandparents for a long while. I remember, you tell me. Though, I think you mean you remember me telling you before and not the actual time.

I tell you a man donated his sperm so people like me, people who really, really wanted a child, could have it to make one. You are tall and have blond curls just like the man who gave us his sperm. You need sperm and an egg, you tell me proudly. Yes, you are right of course, little one. I had an egg myself. I just needed the sperm. And the doctor put that inside my belly. How?, you ask. With a little tube. That sperm travelled some way to find my egg and they met somewhere in the uterus, which is an organ in my belly. I know that, you say. As they met they melted into one cell and out of that I grew you. Were you tired, mommy? Why would you ask that? Aunty Mary is pregnant and always tired. Yes, in the beginning I was very tired. But happy tired. Not like after a long day at work. You nod vigorously in this funny way that your curls bounce. Does giving birth hurt? Yes it does, sweetie. But for me it was okay. Because I knew I was going to get to hold you. I was very calm, and between contractions I slept. What are contractions? you ask. Those are what presses the belly together to get you out. Did it hurt you? I don’t know, baby. But you seemed completely fine when you came out. You were very squished, though. 

You tell me one morning over breakfast that you want to meet him. I look up into these dark green eyes that I know come from his side. My family’s eyes are all a muddy brownish green. You hair is still so curly and, well, you height is undeniably a trait of your biological father. You know all this. Okey, I say with a little irritation. Am I not enough my heart asks before my brain tells me it’s okay. It’s normal you want to know where you came from. 
How did you choose him? You ask. I stutter a bit but I remember well enough. He seemed to share similarities in his looks and had noted interests in things I shared. And then I looked at photos from his childhood. He looked happy. That’s it? You seem disappointed. That’s how it was done back then, I try to explain. I thought he looked like he would make a fine baby and well look at you. He did. That makes you laugh. 

I tell you I am sorry. I am sorry that he does not want to meet you. You know his name now and we do a little Internet research. The pictures show a man in his mid-forties who looks very much like you. You are a good mixture of me and him, I decide. You cry in my arms. And I cry, too, because I wanted you not to get hurt by my decision 17 years ago but you got hurt anyway. You hug me tighter when you notice I am crying, too. It’s ok mum, you say in your adult voice, that you are trying to use whenever you feel you need to be older than you are, you are enough. 

Martha Ketti‘s heart beats for Scotland, though she is one of those rare born and bred Berliners still living in Berlin. Currently, she is mostly occupied by her new role as a solomum. In her secret life, she is a writer of unpublished „pregnancy horror“ short fiction.


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