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December 2020, Baden, Switzerland

“Alima*, why didn’t you feel love for your child after giving birth?”

Her husband was lying above her, sweaty, looking at her dreamily and whispered: »I want to start a family with you.«
»Are you sure?«, she asked, because she had thought about this for some time.
»Yes. I want to.«
»Then I’ll still finish the pill and stop afterwards.«

This scene happened on an evening in June 6 years ago, and one day she decided to write down her story. Explicit and detailed. About the fear during pregnancy, about the disappointment in the birthing room and about the end with the stars. Others had to read about it. Then she sent the message.

The recipient lived several kilometers away, she didn’t know him. Next to this person, the bedside lamp glimmered as he glanced at the clock, which already showed after midnight. Alex opened the message that had arrived, and without intending to, so close to bedtime, he began to read. The title was:

A green wall

»They said it would need a long time if you took the pill. In my case it already happened after three months, but I didn’t know that at the time.
My sister had been trying to get pregnant for a while. Now, we cheered her, of course it was exciting for everyone. How it felt, whether you felt anything. I remember standing in the doorway and asking her. She listed some symptoms and my pulse went up. I was like, oh my God, I think I’m pregnant too. I went and got a test and it was positive. Positive! Joy, fear and panic came together in my head. Is this really happening? A child and I’m supposed to raise it? Am I ready yet? How should I tell the others, since my sister was also pregnant and I didn’t want to take away her centre stage.

Unfortunately, the joy of my family was limited. It hurt the most not to get a hug from my mother and not to hear that she was happy for me. But a strong woman like me, who can do anything, heck, I’ll do this pregnancy with ease. I’m still going to exercise, I’m not going to have those hormones either that throw you off balance. But all of that was a huge misconception.

I was 4 months pregnant when I didn’t want my child anymore, I wanted to abort it, although it was wanted, but not so early. I screamed, I cried because I didn’t know what I did. Every touch of my husband I saw as an act of violence. Fear overcame me, what if my husband is like my father and leaves and I’m alone with my child like my mother? What if I can’t give the love that my child needs? At work even strangers wanted to touch my belly. What the hell was going on in their heads, I wondered. I always hid my belly, I was never proud to show it.

In the 5th to 7th month I always had slight pains, apart from that it went quite well, but in the 8th month it got worse, I withdrew more and more, had negative thoughts and couldn’t sleep anymore. At the end of the 8th month, I started to have water retention in my legs and my face. I had heart palpitations, I wasn’t well anymore. No doctor took me seriously, I told them that my baby was too big, I told them I had been in labour for two weeks. But I was always sent away and told that I was imagining things because it was my first pregnancy and I would have no idea anyway. I thought to myself, okay, well, it will be alright. But my instincts told me otherwise.

Now, there was a party at my husband’s family, but I had no strength and no desire, but I didn’t want to be alone either. He took me to my mother, then the contractions began. Thanks to the birth preparation I was able to breathe properly and handled it very well. My mother took me to the hospital. I was so glad she was there.
The contractions got more and more intense, but luckily my pain threshold is pretty high. My husband came, my mom said goodbye, and I was about to start crying right there. Why did she leave just now, and why didn’t I say anything? We were allowed into the birthing room, I waited for the command to push but I wasn’t given one.

The senior doctor came in and asked how things were going. The midwife said that the amniotic fluid had been green and that the baby’s heart tones weren’t good anymore. I was shocked to hear that, why didn’t she tell me? I was already so tired, and additionally, I was given an epidural. The injection hurt but I didn’t really want any aids. The senior doctor came again later and said that we would do an emergency caesarean section, she would prepare everything. ›No‹, my head screamed, ›no.‹ Too tired to insist. They took me on a bed that drove me downstairs. I was naked, even in the birthing room, it was so displeasing, I wanted to be covered but the wish was ignored.

To my left, my husband sat down and held my hand. Green fabric separated my view of what the doctors were doing on the other side. Things weren’t going as expected. I looked around scared, squeezed my husband’s hand, then I got so woozy and I was gone.«

Alex shuddered as he now understood what was meant by the green wall. In need of a break, he got up and walked aimlessly around the room. He wondered if any of this should even be published. Some might be upset about this story, some might smile about it, but others would recognize themselves. In the end, he had no control over it. He took a deep breath and sat back down.

»Far away, I heard a baby cry. I opened my inner eyes and saw a light, it was yellow-orange-red, so warm and cozy. I felt as if I were passing through an endless corridor. And again, there was the cry of a baby, suddenly I realized that I was pregnant and had been taken to a birthing room. That’s right, wake up! Wake the f**k up! I was fighting with myself and all of a sudden, I opened my eyes, everything was blurry and I heard my husband. I heard all the people, I looked at my husband, then at the doctor. She said they were still stitching up the cut, after that it would be finished. I asked my husband if he could cut the umbilical cord. But unfortunately, no. Our son wasn’t breathing, everything had to happen quickly, yes, I knew it wasn’t okay.

What hair colour he has, I asked. Dark, she said. I felt relieved, so the genes came from me. We had made jokes about the hair colour again and again. Then she corrected and said that his hair colour was red. Oh, okay, I thought to myself, and she put the little thing on my chest. I looked at him, my thoughts were so dark. I wondered, if this is it, if this is the great miracle. This is supposed to feel so great? I could hardly breathe and asked her to take the child from me.

Exhausted, I was lying in bed when my husband came with the little one. He cried with happiness and asked if I loved the child despite his red hair. Yes, of course, was my answer. However, he didn’t know that I wasn’t serious. I still look at the pictures nowadays and I’m shocked at how averse I was and how I didn’t even look at my son. I couldn’t even give birth the normal way, I couldn’t even breastfeed. Too stupid for everything.

Back home, the mornings were already hell. Did no one want the child? I would give it away immediately, I thought to myself. I kept him out of a sense of duty. He never really slept with me, he could never be alone so that I could go to the bathroom. He always needed me, I always had to put his needs first. And again, he cries! I went for a walk every day, for two hours in the morning and in the afternoon too, so that I had peace because then he would finally sleep.

My thoughts were dark, I knew I had to change something. Through maternity counselling, I slowly got out of this mess. I had to change. I had to realize that it was about my son now. I had to create my own time frames where I could be myself. I managed to do that, but I kept remembering the birth. I felt like a failure. Couldn’t I even give birth without medical aids? Couldn’t I even breastfeed my child, was there anything at all I could do the right way? I failed miserably. After half a year I finally learned to deal with it. From that point on, I began to feel love for my child.

Why hadn’t anyone told me about the possible downsides of giving birth? Or about the lack of love for your own child? If that wasn’t a taboo, I’m sure more women would seek help. I was lucky that I hadn’t fallen too deep. I was lucky that I’m strong, that I got such a strong shoulder from Allah. I love my child, I could never be without my son, this love is indescribable. He’s my life and he gives me so much. I wish I had realized this earlier.

Two years later I had the biggest shock of my life. My son had an epileptic seizure. How did I know? I don’t know, I just knew. I went for help, an hour and a half the poor little guy was in there. The worst part of the seizure wasn’t the shaking, it was the eyes, the eyes were empty, no soul was left, a shell was shaking on my bed. In the hospital, after a day, he finally woke up and smiled at me. I was so grateful.

We stayed in the hospital for 3 days. It was hard, we weren’t allowed out and were isolated. But what made it even harder was that a week later I lost my 2nd child in 3rd month. I had even bought a diary and wrote down the dates, but I knew that I wouldn’t keep it. I was very sad, now I’ve lost a child too. A child which has returned to Allah and is waiting for me in sha Allah in paradise. My feeling told me that it was a girl. I was sad that I didn’t get to keep it. I wanted to do everything differently and better. However, I’m so glad that we could take our son home safe and sound. Alhamdulillah.«

Alex closed the document and sat still for a while, looking into the darkness. He didn’t really know what to feel. In the distance he heard a siren, which quickly faded out. Christmas was in a few days, he wouldn’t think about it until then. He opened the window and let the cool air flow in. Today you could even see the glittering dots in the night sky, so beautiful.