Maja is now six weeks old. A seemingly never-ending pregnancy and a day’s worth of labour are slowly fading away and I find myself here with a baby with delicate bones, fine features and blue eyes, who – especially asleep, when she’s at her most beautiful – looks exactly like you. It wasn’t until the day after the delivery that I noticed the striking resemblance, the fine movements of the lips, the almond-shaped eyes, the one dimple on her right cheek. In the 42 days I’ve spent with her, I still find this resemblance strangely, unsettlingly painful.
Of course, you wouldn’t know because you’re never going to see her. As part of your solution to the problem, you have chosen to take no real notice of any of what you ingeniously called “the situation”, to which I was reluctant to find a “solution” – abortion, that is, which you never once called by its proper name. To my repeated questions, offers and suggestions all you could say was that “it” would “complicate your life beyond belief”, complication being yet another word that conceals more than it reveals. This is the first thing I wanted to tell you – how inadequate I found your entire vocabulary related to the most private and most cherished aspect of my life: my developing child.
I have pondered endlessly on issues of ownership and responsibility. As a philosophy graduate, it was almost irresistible to go through my readings of Kant, Heidegger and Sartre in my mind. Choice. The being I choose myself to be. Me, in the making of my choices. And yes, I am afraid I must agree with you, inasmuch as it is my “problem”, to have carried, delivered, and now raise this child, as it was I who chose to do these things, in the full knowledge that you would not be involved in this process.
But despite all reason, I am still struck by the matter-of-fact nature of your tone (which I took for unfeeling coldness). I am still surprised by your silence, crushed by the sadness of not being asked my baby’s sex or name and by the solitude of what it means to raise a child alone. I was meaning to ask you this: Does the fact that I chose myself, and I chose freely, rid you of all responsibility? I asked you once, and you wisely didn’t respond.
I am left with a myriad of secret longings, which I would, of course, never tell you about. I would like to see pictures of you as a baby, a toddler, a schoolboy and pictures of your female relatives – to look for Maja’s features in their faces. I would like to visit the place where you come from, drink wine with your parents, to draw myself a sketch of something I didn’t get the chance to have a closer look at.
I imagine you waking up beside that other woman, whoever she might be; she will never find out about this one aspect of your life. I find it hard to picture you, as I don’t know your apartment, but I imagine you waking up in it, flat on your back, elbow tucked beneath your head, thinking of your baby, a boy or a girl, one or the other, somewhere, with someone else, hundreds of miles away. For a few minutes every once in a while, more rarely each year, and too briefly anyway.
I guess that what I have been summoning up the courage to tell you is the most ordinary of things: it hurts.