That spring my governess and pseudo mom, Suzanne, who’d lived with our family for the past twenty-two years, got married and moved out of the house. My real mother, Franyo, grew a little lonely and morose as a result, so we asked her to join us on a trip to the Yucatan. She’d always wanted to go to Isla Mujeres, which became our first stop, a seven kilometer spit of land in the Caribbean that had giant sea turtles. In pre-Columbian times, the island had been sacred to the Mayan goddess of childbirth, and in my obsession with getting pregnant, I took that as a sign. Beyond a few tentative conversations, I still hadn’t confronted Werner on the issue. I knew there’d be nothing but a big red light, so I stayed quiet and bided my time.
After a day on the island, we flew to the mainland to visit the ruins at Chichen Itza. It was there, atop the steepest pyramid, that I had a kind of revelation. The climb had been almost vertical going up, but somehow we managed. Werner was like a billy goat at places like this, running up and down steep flights of steps with his cameras as if they were molehills. Franyo and I ascended very slowly. At the top was a gorgeous view, but when we went to go down, we realized there was no place to put our feet: it was a sheer drop and one had to guess where the first descending step was.
Franyo started weeping. The only time I’d ever seen her cry before was when I was a twelve-year-old child with encephalitis, so this was a true jolt. There was no other way down than by foot. One had to have faith — kind of like jumping out of a plane and assuming the deities loved you and your parachute would open. You just dangled your foot till it touched somewhere, then said a prayer and went down really slowly on your ass. I took that first step with my eyes closed, and as I did I knew I was going to take another kind of plunge, throw caution to the wind, and open my baby-wanting body to fate, no matter what.
I waited till we got home to London to talk to Werner. I told him I planned to have a baby, but he didn’t take me seriously. “I will, you’ll see,” I said. A day or two later, feeling terrified by the momentousness of my decision, I stopped using birth control. Make love to me if you dare, I thought in dangerous, silent defiance. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Being young, I expected immediate results. But conception took awhile and a number of things happened along the way.
To be continued…