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  • Dear Millie.

    Yesterday some well-meaning grown-up asked you some sort of thoughtless question partly for their own immediate amusement and mostly to fill the air with noise, and you answered with conviction:

    when i were a grown up, i would have a baby in my tummy
    and i will be a mummy
    with a baby in my tummy

    And then the grown-ups tittered, and went about their grown-up days. Your father saw an opportunity and furrowed his brow in a pretend-stern voice to say:


    and you sagely nodded your head in reverent agreement, because it sounded sensible like that was what you are supposed to do always. You will do many things what you are supposed to do always. You are like that. It's okay.

    And then you asked:

    mum. Mummy, mum.
    What's it like, really mummy,
    to have a baby come out of your tummy?

    and I lied and I said, it's fine. It's fine, sweetie darling, It's not that bad.

    I didn't tell you that it might not happen, or that it might not go well, or that even if it goes well it is that bad.

    I will lie to you often.

    If you ask again, I will lie again. I will tell you that of course I have not forgotten.

    I have forgotten, mostly. At the time, I had taken mental notes for myself during labour because I did not trust myself to accurately remember: shock and disbelief that anyone else had done this before and not told me, dim memory that they had told me and I didn't get it, searing white hot pain from which I felt like fleeing but there was nowhere to flee to, panic and a conviction that I might not get through, a deep understanding of how all genuinely dangerous it was, contempt for my rational awareness that it would all end soon, and being oblivious as to the reward that might wait at the end. But I tell people, today even, that it wasn't that bad. This is because of the forgetting.

    If you ask again, I will lie again. I will lie by glossing over my forgetting, and by distracting you with the truth, that you are the best thing that I have ever done.

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