When Daphne becomes pregnant, it isn’t only her life that changes…
For her husband Amir, for their parents, and for their friends Guy and Abigail, the pregnancy and birth force them all to look at their own lives, at what they want, at their pasts and their futures.
Each person has a different perspective of the delivery, and of the complexity of having a child: the difference between men and women, a changing self-perception of parents, conflicts between work and parenthood.
Lives are changed, and the equilibrium each of them has achieved is fundamentally disturbed until, after the delivery, they can find a new balance for the future.
(A monologue of the pregnant protagonist)
A strong scent of blossom was coming from the yard. I sat in the old armchair on the porch, my eyes closed, my head against the high headrest. Birds chirped from the tall oak tree; a light, almost imperceptible, breeze moved its branches and the leaves rustled softly. I could hear the voices of boys in the distance, perhaps quarrelling, but they faded away quickly. Our porch, on the first floor, faced a backyard surrounded by trees, concealing the houses down the road and the narrow alley between them. In the peaceful darkness I could pretend it was a country home with wide meadows stretching away behind the trees. The night wind was free from remnants of car exhaust and urban dust; the air was saturated with a pleasant coolness, enveloping the trees and the plants.
I thought that if I closed my eyes this day would vanish, as if it had never happened. The intense excitement, the hugs, the display of joy, Amir’s whispering into the phone, which I overheard from the porch, and an inexplicable anxiety, slowly materializing and turning into a physical stress that I couldn’t ignore—they would all fade away if I didn’t open my eyes. Yesterday evening, at this hour, everything was as usual, a daily routine unfolding as expected. A young couple, newlywed, wanting to bring a child into this world. Everything was progressing normally, according to plan. But something went wrong. I don’t know what it was. I find it hard to understand what happened, how this joyous event was transformed into a preposterous burden that I can’t push aside.
All those smiles, Amir’s tight hug as he said arrogantly: “Well, I did take care of things, didn’t I?” only deepened the gloom. The kiss he demanded, long and straining; his eyes bright with joy; his excited brisk pacing back and forth, repeating over and over again that “we shouldn’t tell everyone yet”: they all seemed ridiculous. But still I smiled, yielding to his affection, pretending I was part of it. Frankly, I would have liked to lie in bed, pull a blanket over my head and sink into deep sleep. I would have liked to pretend that the nurse had never called and said she was happy to let us know that the result was positive, that I am pregnant; to pretend that I never beckoned to Amir to come to the phone, that he didn’t ask to talk to her, just to make sure it was not a mistake. I laughed out loud, as if I had heard a funny joke, and Amir looked at me with surprise and suspicion and asked why was I laughing.
“I don’t know,” I replied, suppressing an inappropriate roar. When the excitement was over, after hugging me, Amir started to offer me a glass of wine but then changed his mind saying it wouldn’t be wise to drink now. I simply walked to the porch and plopped into the huge armchair. I closed my eyes hoping that all this would turn out to be a silly joke, something frightening and then funny. But after a couple of moments of silence, although I kept my eyes closed and listened to the nocturnal sounds, the pregnancy gradually materialized: I am pushing a stroller, I am changing diapers, I am bringing the baby to my parents, my stomach is becoming rounded, my clothes don’t fit me anymore, I need to buy new dresses, I am nauseous, I am vomiting, and then, my god, a terrible fear takes over and won’t go away, I am brought to the delivery room, pain distorts my body, I am screaming, my body is torn.
I opened my eyes. “Daphne, are you okay?” “Yes.” “Would you like to drink something? I mean, some water, perhaps.” I guessed he was wondering if I was allowed tea or coffee.
“No.” “How are you feeling?” “Fine.” “You don’t look happy. Are you sorry you’re pregnant? Would you like us to wait before we have a child?” “No.” “You do want children, don’t you?” “Yes.” Amir returns to the room, leaving me staring into the shadowed world, my eyes following the night birds springing up with a cry and soaring to another branch. The trees look still, but an observant eye detects thin branches moving slightly, shaking their leaves. I close my eyes again, attentive only to my body.
Where is the embryo now? A terrible fear, which I always knew existed but whose acuteness I only now understand, erupts, and there is no way to stop it. The understanding that a living creature will grow and develop within my body and then break its way out is petrifying
Thank you, Emanuela Barasch Rubinstein and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
Emanuela Barasch Rubinstein is a writer and a scholar in the Humanities. This is her second work of fiction, following Five Selves, published in 2015 by Holland House Books. Her non-fiction work includes The Devil, the Saints, and the Church, Nazi Devil, and Mephisto in the Third Reich: Literary representations of Evil in Nazi Germany. Emanuela also translated Evans-Prichards’ Theories of Primitive Religion and Dodd’s The Greek and the Irrational from English into Hebrew.