The little girl is excited.
She has been invited to a birthday party and when you are five years old, a birthday party is a very exciting thing.
But the little girl doesn’t feel well. She has a pain in the tummy. Such a terrible pain. As she walks home from school, all she can think about is the birthday party which is tomorrow and the terrible pain that rips through her little tummy right now.
At home, she is bent, doubled over with the pain but as she walks past her parents bedroom, she stands upright. She does not want them to see. She knows that if they find out she has a tummy ache, there will be no party tomorrow.
The next day, the little girl does go to the birthday party. But once she is there, the pain is so bad that all she can do is lie on a bed.
It is clear the little girl is very sick. She is rushed to hospital.
The doctor tells her daddy that the little girl has had appendicitis. That her appendix has now burst. That she has peritonitis and gangrene of the stomach. That she is going to die.
But the little girl doesn’t die. The doctors use a very new antibiotic, one that has been used during the war, one that is not yet available to the general public. It saves the little girl’s life.
The young woman is a newlywed. She and her husband are eager to start a family. They dream of little raven-haired children. Or maybe red. A red streak runs in the family.
But the young woman is not falling pregnant. The young woman has not thought about it before but now, it is all she can think about and so she tells the gynecologist that when she was a little girl, she had peritonitis and gangrene of the stomach. The doctor orders a laparoscopy.
The young woman has very damaged fallopian tubes. One is completely irreparable and the other is successfully reopened during surgery. The young woman is told she has a ten percent chance of falling pregnant. These are not good odds.
The young woman and her new husband put themselves on the adoption registry.
And then, the young woman falls pregnant. It is a miracle. An incredible and joyful miracle.
Then, the bleeding starts. And that tiny window of opportunity is shut forever when the egg is found to have implanted itself in the one working fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy spells the end of the woman’s fertility.
A young girl, not long eighteen, has just begun her university studies.
She is bright. A good girl. A good Catholic girl. The eldest of several siblings.
The boy is two years older. Maybe he is cute. Charming. Maybe he makes her laugh.
Maybe he makes her forget about being a good Catholic girl.
Maybe she is in the bathroom, her little brother knocking impatiently at the door as she cries. Maybe she is holding the pregnancy test with shaking hands.
The test is positive. There is no maybe here. The test is positive.
Maybe the girl goes to her parents, frightened, ashamed.
And maybe they tell her how disappointed they are. How she has broken their hearts but more importantly, the laws of God. How this pregnancy will bring shame and embarrassment to the family.
They send her interstate. There is no maybe here. The young girl’s parents send her interstate, alone, to carry the child to term. They believe seeing their eldest (unwed) sister pregnant will be damaging to the younger siblings.
A little girl is born into the world. She weighs 3170 grams, is 48cms long and has a head full of auburn hair.
Her mother names her Anne. But her name won’t be Anne. And her mother will not be her mother.
The young woman and her husband arrive with their adorable three-year-old son.
The woman moves in quickly to change the little baby girl into the tiny clothes she has brought along. The young woman and her husband take turns holding the little girl. She is their new daughter. And they hold their new baby and invite the little boy to come and take a look at his little sister. The little boy thinks his baby sister is beautiful.
The young woman’s parents are sitting in the car. Maybe Leila can hardly sit still. Maybe Jack tells Leila she needs to be patient. Maybe he watches with amusement as Leila, no longer able to stand it, hops out of the car and hurries up the path to the door that will reveal her new granddaughter.
And then, a little family drives back to Glendale Avenue, Templestowe, with a brand new daughter. A daughter they only learned would be theirs the day before.
They call her Angie.
I can’t imagine more distressing events. To be told you can’t ever conceive? Or to be forced into giving away your own child that you’ve carried? In some ways, the opposite ends of the spectrum, yet equally scarring.
To be brought into the world and raised as a result of these two separate events… there’s no way that you could be anything other than the strong, compassionate, immensely empathetic woman you are today.
I loved this piece. x
Thank you, Mad.
These stories have become mine by osmosis. I didn’t live them personally but they have absolutely shaped the person I am and also, how I see myself.
I love this.
I love how you have wrapped yourself in the stories of the women from your past, made those stories your own.
As these women made you their own.
Just amazing, Angie.
Kris – thank you for being here and reading this.
You have made me want to dig so much deeper with my writing. Which was actually always my intent. But it is easy to lose your way in Blogland.
Thank you for bringing me back.
This story makes me giddy. I didn’t know how much I needed to write it.
Thank you Angie I loved reading that piece too and felt it very deeply.
You are not only cute, but a truly gifted writer and im really proud of you. xx
Jane. My dear friend.
That YOU felt this so deeply is amazing. Because I KNOW how deeply you feel things.
Thank you for being here to share this part of me.
Beautifully written Angie, so very touching, and so very very personal. I think that possibly writing this piece, for you personally, is quite a large step in identifying who you are, and why, and has possibly been very therapeutic. What determines who we are encompasses a multitude of things and to have been able to convey that in the way that you have, is magical.
Thank you for your beautiful words, Mel.
This story was exceptionally important for me to write.
Having my mum read it was wonderful. Almost like a gift to her from me.
Perhaps some day, my birth mother will read it, too.
Thank you for allowing me to share my stories.
All of these stories woven together. Beautiful!
I just love the way this flows, the voice, the drifting, but very specific nature of it.
Lulling, but not.
Haunting and wondrous.
I really, really like this post. (Found you through TRDC.) What a beautiful way to tell the story.
Off to read more!
CDG – an amazing comment to receive, regardless of the author.
That the author was you? Thrilling.
Thank you, Kristy!
Robin – thank you.
That you have been inspired to read more – such a thrill for me!
I really enjoyed reading this. I loved reading about all the ladies in this piece and how their lives insected.
Thank you. I appreciate you stopping by!
Such a beautiful piece Angie. How wonderful to have those stories given to you.
I found you through Mamabake and haven’t looked back! To be honest I’ve become a little obsessed with your blog. I read it first thing in the morning when I should be getting my arse out of bed to exercise before my 1yr old wakes up. I LOVE your honesty and can relate to so much of what you write (most recently the head in the microwave reference about B’s study, my partner is also studying while working).
Anyway just thought I’d drop you a note to say how brilliant your blog is. Can’t wait for the book 😉
Sophie, what a lovely way to start the day reading this comment has been for me!
I am so glad that you are enjoying my writing and I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me about it.
This piece is particularly special to me. Thank you for your lovely words. xxx