For the longest time I've felt like I'm on hold. I would rather think of myself as on standby. I can't.

I've been brushing up on my first aid this week, down at the Red Cross of Singapore. As things would have it, my partner is a forty-two-year-old childless woman. I've known her for three days. On the second day we exchanged the usual information about age, marital and maternal status. "I look so young because I have no kid, lah," she said. "But really I have fourteen kid. I call them niece and nephew." And she showed me a picture on her phone. "The newest, ah. So small. I spend so much time taking care of all of them."

It's not a new concept, of course. Neither is the lament that our society is becoming too individualistic. "I say to my husband, lah, what if we have no children? He say, no worry, I take care of you, you take care of me, lah. But it's me who takes care of my mother now. She worries for me, because I think now I can't have children and there will be no-one to care for me when I am old. But kids don't care for their parents now. You can't expect, nuh."

That night I have a dream. I am pregnant, but only briefly. When it's finished, I feel empty, devoid of any tangible evidence - even a solid memory - of what I'd so fleetingly known. A woman at the supermarket, passing by in the cereal section, tells me my baby's soul came loose from its body and got caught in another's fertilised egg, and is out there, living in the world. Later, I meet a long-lost friend in a place neither of us have visited since we were seventeen. She shows me her belly and tells me her news. And I'm struck with awe because I realise, as I touch the outside of her rippling womb, that the soul she carries is familiar. And that it belongs not to her, or to me, or to the baby itself, but to our village and our world and the family of humankind.

But she pulls back, and her hands encircle her bump protectively. "Mine," say her eyes. "Mine, mine, mine." I know then, she will hover when I hold the baby. She will decline my every offer of help. And I will resent her for it. I wake up crying.

On the train I see people going about their day, minding their business, taking care of their own. None of them expect to be hit by a truck. None of them imagine they'll collapse. But, says our instructor, we as a society should be prepared for these events. We must be willing to step forward. But most importantly, we must be able. It takes skill to walk into a crowd and convince everyone you can help, and it takes knowledge and practice to direct your actions. When you walk out of this class at the end of the week, I hope you will no longer be helpless. Instead, I hope you will be on standby.

---
There's new stuff happening at the International Infertility Film Festival site. Namely, the team at Imagining Ourselves are calling for submissions on the subject of infertility for their upcoming theme of Motherhood. Anyway, I wrote all about it here. Please pass the details on - I would love to see the subject of infertility represented as part of this project.


12 Comments

TeamWinks said...

That's one heck of a dream!

Your instructor sounds insightful.

Bea said...

I have to admit to leaving out some filler stuff that didn't seem entirely connected.

Bea

serenity said...

Man, what a tough dream. I hate those - the ones that make me cry when I wake up. :(

Your class sounds really interesting.

Lut C. said...

Your mind is really creative, even when you're asleep!
Would be a good script for a short film. ;-)

Meri-ann said...

What a heartbreaking/beautiful dream...

Nica said...

I'm getting teary just reading about it...

steph said...

I'm with lut c. Make it into a film and put in filler stuff that would make it more connected. And, you know, fill more time! Sounds profetic, but I've heard being in Asian places makes people feel that way. Like there are mysteries and life's answers waiting to be discovered.
But what the hell do I know (0:

My Reality said...

Wow, what an interesting dream.

I hope tonight is filled with nothing but sweet dreams.

Baby Blues said...

It's tiring having those dreams. You wake up feeling so unrested.

Your class sounds great! Everyone should brush up on their CPR once in awhile.

Vee said...

What is it with these pregnancy dreams ? I hate waking up crying that is the worst feeling. I think standby is good it is better than being on pause.

Carol said...

sounds like a disturbing dream, I can see why you would wake up crying. sorry. :-(

The Town Criers said...

A disturbing dream, but what an incredible post that comes full-circle. The negative stand-by and the positive stand-by.

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