A long time before I thought about becoming a mother, I read about a boy named David Vetter. He lived until the age of 12 in a sterilised space in a hospital in Texas. He had an autoimmune disease that made contact with pathogens for him fatal. I took interest in his story out of curiosity and pathos, but with relatively easy remove. I shut it away with stories I had read of the tallest man in the world, of the moon landing.
When I was 31 and had descended into a panic that I’ve since only been able to describe with these metaphors of falling, with my own baby boy having entered the world, David Vetter came to mind again. I dreamed of him. I felt his story in the way I was now feeling everything differently: acutely, with rawness; as though I had only been half-seeing before. What I saw now was immense: that birth shares a membrane with death; that the flipside of everything that goes right in your labour is everything that goes wrong, that war is not abstract any-more; that everyone is someone’s child.
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