Liz Howard

On an Unfertilized Ovum

Sometimes I imagine the child we would have had right as we were falling apart. I imagine a baby girl so much like me; I imagine her with eyes like mine: green and wide and searching. I imagine the squishy dimples in her small fist and the perfect smoothness of her newly-birthed body.

          I imagine cradling this little bundle of poor decisions, the product of wreckage, a baby born into a marriage broken by your hands on my throat and shattered glass on the bedroom floor. I imagine the separateness of our joy, the air quiet and heavy between us, so distinct from our first moments with our son. I imagine the stifling weight of knowing she was no longer mine, no longer indivisible from my body, no longer safely encased in my flesh, my blood, my amniotic fluid. I imagine burying a secret in her name — something meaning “Not Alone” or “Wanted” or “I’m Sorry.”

          I imagine that she would come home with me at first, maybe just the two of us, and I would try to be enough. I imagine that I would attempt to breastfeed but would eventually give up because when she was gone the fullness in my chest would taunt me. I imagine her, a toddler, gripping my hips, wailing, not wanting to go, and I would help you pry her off of me, ripping myself apart. I imagine she would grow up worried that she was the cause of it all and I would never be able to reassure her enough or have the words to say: you were conceived out of pain and fear; you were conceived unfairly, cruelly, as a lifejacket for me to slip on and survive; you, in spite of all this, are remarkably human.



Liz Howard is a queer single mom living in Philadelphia with her troublesome three-year-old & very loud beagle. She has work in Split Lip Magazine, FIVE:2:ONE, bedfellows magazine, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @Mother_Faulkner.