In my mother’s womb, I once floated in primordial soup for 32 weeks, eight shy of full-term. I was born premature & spent my first days in an incubator surrounded by things to keep me alive, separated from my parents. My mother would visit for hours each day, singing, her unspoken dream of building her own family realized. My name to her sounded like a melody. In her womb, not fully formed, I received all of the eggs I will ever have, this genetic material that makes it possible for me to conceive of my own blood family, one that does not replicate my own birth & childhood.

My partner used the word neglect to describe my early childhood, my parents consumed by the existential stressors, my brother born unable to breathe fully, his lungs not fully formed before he emerged into the world. Our first room was not somewhere we stayed for the full length of the appointment. Umbilical cord cut, we left early holding ancestral grief. Were we cast out or did we yearn already to leave?

As an adult, I mourn the loss of that period of intimacy with my mother. The two months lost in early delivery stretch on into adulthood, representing the vastness between my mother and me. I long to step towards my mother and complete that which was unfinished, some gap in intimacy and care closed by my conscious effort. And yet stepping towards so often hurts, remembering moments of my vulnerability met by her silence, her quickness to defensiveness and shutdown always looming. I am sad to admit that I have given up my dreams of emotional closeness. I will settle for morning coffee runs and listen to her share her sorrows. I do not believe she will ever fully carry mine.

This month, when my favorite magnolia trees bloom streetside and my energy returns, I go to my womb for guidance & permission. This body is aging, this mind intent on preserving that which has been given in the womb of my mother. In a few days I will begin injecting myself with hormones designed to stimulate multiple follicles in my ovaries to produce eggs, for later harvest by a doctor nearby. In dark times, will future children remember the separation from my womb, held in cold storage for a time when I am more ready? Will they grieve an unnamable separation from mother, as I do? Who will sing to them the lullabies of the mother’s dreams before they are fully formed? What will I replicate?