Born too early.

by Claudia Ravaldi

“Madam, we say it for you, better not to get too attached”

I just gave birth.

I gave birth even before I packed my suitcase for the hospital, the list of useful things is still there, hanging from the fridge.

I gave birth after a lightning-fast and lightning-fast labor, I didn’t even realize what was happening.

My wrinkled little ant was born on the run.

My little ant weighs 685 grams.

He has very small hands.

Maybe, he has a nose. I’ll take a good look as soon as my eyes manage to land on his spaceship anchored to the ground by dozens of wires and tubes and radars.

“We honestly don’t know what to hope for” lets slip a smock.

In the meantime, I have not yet understood that you, inside the spaceship pulsating with lights and noises, are YOU.

My little ballerina girl.

I look at her from a distance. Protected by the antibacterial armor that they made me wear, protected by the glass of the carrycot, protected by all those woolen wraps and various covers that try to “rebuild the mother’s womb”.

I still don’t understand, that she is HER, and I am ME. His mother. The one who at 11pm the day before had some line of fever, took the tachipirina and went to bed, because there were pains. The one who woke up at five in the morning feeling torn apart. The one that 118 said: “Lady don’t move, we’re coming”. The one who gave birth at 6:04. I think it’s just a dream. I think I don’t want to experience this at all.

I think I don’t know what 90% of what I’m told means.

They talk, they trade, they sentence.

I’m behind the barrier of masks, wires, spaceships, blankets and I scan that little thing.

Is it really YOU?

We have to wait for the next 48 hours to understand

How many are 48 hours exactly?

An ant, can he fight 48 hours straight? Will my little ant last?

First 24 hours: stationary situation. Confidential prognosis. Relatives and friends with rubber faces that babble (even in writing, of course they babble) absurd things, like ” The important thing is that you’re okay “.

They do not know the intrinsic power of ants. If only they knew, what’s really important to ant moms.

The important thing is that the physiological decline does not take you away. The important thing is to avert all dangers. But you can’t know. In here you can not know anything. Never.

Second 24 hours: they tell me about you, and inform me that there is a list of risks. Very long. ” You have to be prepared for any eventuality ,” they say. You are there little ant with the upturned nose and infinitesimal hands. I’m scared.

Now it is important to stimulate milk production

I realize I still have a body.

I realize it as soon as the nurse arrives with a strange thing and hands it to me.

Amazing how I feel I don’t exist without my little ant in my belly.

It is as if, after his birth, I had transmigrated into his wrinkled little ant body, and existed only there.

My original body, a filthy traitor. A bad cradle, I am.

I take off my shirt.

I cry.

I turn around as the nurse and your father explain to each other how to activate the breast pump.

I want to be in the spaceship with you.

Third 24 hours: “Madam, we are now discharging you because you are fine and therefore you can enter the ward at visiting hours, like the others”.

I only realize now that there are a lot of other spaceships. For the first time in three days, I take a look around. But I don’t want to see. I’m not sure I want to see the pain of others, the successes of others, the tears of others.

The fear of others, above all, sticks to me, it becomes mine. I can not afford it. In here there is a form of sticky fear, which envelops everything and everyone. It feeds on the unspoken, the uncertainties, the drawn faces of the parents. It’s a fear of what it might be. It is the fear of helplessness.

Please please please please please “, I hear myself say, from the outside. ” Just another couple of days .”

These are the rules ” ” And then disconnecting will do you good! ” The psychologist and the nurse assert confidently.

It is useless to tell them that it all started precisely because we separated, you and I, long before the time.

I don’t want to break away yet. I can not do that.

My empty belly and breasts, still inexperienced and many unsure of their role, are there to remind me that no, at 25 weeks you shouldn’t detach. At all.

We’ll call you … just in case. Go ahead for today“. In case. This suspended sentence. Like this time. Like this life that has made a sharp turn and now travels on the dirt road to an unknown destination.

The little ant is suspended in its noisy ship.

I am suspended inside this body too vast and too empty to be inhabited.

Suspended, rather.

Me, ant and Alessandro.

Alessandro is the most suspended of all, the one with the infamous role: a little ambassador, a little carer, a little nurse. A little father of ant, and a little father of mine. I have shrunk suddenly in these five days. I can’t do anything alone. Apart from crying. And, perhaps, pray to all the gods and goddesses, new Persephone who are nothing else.

Ant began his sixth day of life in the spaceship in a very bumpy way. His spaceship screams. She has a strange color. It seems bigger to me, actually, they tell me it’s the fluids he needs to take to take the medicines. When I arrive she is helpless, almost surrendered, inside her wool and plexiglass egg. I’m afraid he’s afraid.

I’m here , I tell her, mom is here “.

You have a petrified mom. Wiped out by your exhausted body.

There was a bad crisis this morning before dawn .”

It’s nine o’clock.

I ask abruptly why they didn’t call us.

They tell us that they both knew we would arrive shortly after.

I miss a kick in a chair. I apologize, for the sake of formality. I have not an iota of shame, nor of modesty. Little ant is terribly ill.

I feel trapped.

We are left alone, surrounded by the comings and goings of the department.

They try to intervene.

They ask us out.

We ask to stay.

They insist we must get out.

We go out, incredulous.

The psychologist comes from behind. I feel his eyes inside my back.

I turn.

She is silent.

I am silent.

After a time that seems to me four centuries, he smiles faintly and takes a piece of paper from his coat pocket.

If you want to talk to me, I’ll tell you where to find me “.




it goes.

I have the sound of the spaceship in my ears. Alessandro is leaning against the glass. As close to little ant as possible.

Flo, to dad. Hold on“, he murmurs softly but not too much.

Our Flora.

Our long-legged dancer.

Alexander’s pain pierces me.

And now?

I catch a glimpse of convulsive movements around Flo’s station.

I glimpse the shadows of the other parents, very far away from us, incredulous. Scared.

He was fine until yesterday, ” an OS tells me. ” I’m sorry, you are such a beautiful family .”

We are a family.

Me Alessandro and Flo.

We are a family all the same .

We will still be a family.

Flo, stop suffering.

Your doctor shakes his head.

And in that moment I feel invaded by a force that tears me from my chair.

I take Ale by the arm. They pull him, run , I tell him. I knock, like a madwoman, on the door.

I want to hug her ,” I say.

Open me !”, I yell. It is a choral scream. It comes out of my mouth, but it’s not mine alone. It is the cry of all quasi-orphan mothers.

The nurse, evidently very annoyed, opens and shields me with her big body.

I come from Flo, his face is very busy in his battle.

He does not want to go.

Or maybe it’s waiting for me.

Ale hides his eyes in the crook of his elbow.

Open it “. I enjoin.

They are all at a standstill, some advise against, others delay.

Here comes her, Dr. Laura.

His voice is calm. Looks me in the eye. Touch Ale’s elbow.

Do you want to pick up the Flo ?” he asks.

I brought you this .” Pull out an embroidered wool blanket. He hands it to me. The nurse with the big body, resigned, offers me a chair. The nurse with the seagull eyebrows asks Ale if she wants to help him get her out.

I tremble.

My Flo.

Still too small to win all the battles in this world.

Big enough to go back into the arms of mum and dad.

And from there, start again, beloved.

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