I was born by Susie Johnston
Susie has spent time in reflection and contemplation as she trains to become a Spiritual Director. She has only ever journalled thoughts and tried writing a bit of poetry. This piece was written during a writing exercise at a Memoir workshop facilitated by Deborah.
“The head is too small! Quickly into the hospital.’ My Mother was panicked. What was wrong? I felt responsible somehow, grieved that I had given my Mother those anxious days.
“How can I remember what happened. We were knocked out. You were round the wrong way – a breech birth.” Again a sense of being a nuisance, causing worry when my older sister was needing the care and attention – born with a cleft palate.
Then a blank. No memories only, “You were a bonny baby,” and photos of me - bouncy black curls and deep dark eyes that already held secrets – and fat! As though my wrists had rubber rings around them.
“My, what a beautiful baby,” I heard someone say. At least I think I heard them while I was being pushed in my pram.
Actually the facts were that I was born at Narrow Neck Naval Hospital but none of that mattered.
I remember catching the sound of ‘Robert,’ the name of the boy much wanted after two older sisters and thinking I was meant to be a boy. Maybe I was a crying baby, maybe I slept well? It was never shared. Perhaps I was tucked up content, or perhaps I was restless? I wondered about these things when I had my own children but the memories seemed to have been erased from my Mother’s mind, whether on purpose or not I don’t know. I do know I was spoilt and loved, but I can’t remember the words said. No cooing, mushy words, and I always remember words, usually the hurtful ones, but I long to remember hearing something specific from my Mother, something unsuitably mushy.
“Don’t spoil them,” she would say to me about my gorgeous new babies as I fussed and loved them loudly and longingly. “Don’t look in the mirror so much,” she would say as I became older and looked long and hard into those dark eyes trying to understand who I was and what was I really thinking.
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