Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Artificial Wombs
By Debbie Roome
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I pick up the keyboard next to me and activate the wall-size screen. I’ve been meaning to capture my thoughts for some time now.
“My sweetest Kelia. My heart overflows with love as I sit here to record the story of your birth. You may wonder what makes yours so special, after all everyone has to be born. Well, your birth really was special, Kelia. When Daddy and I married, we spent a lot of time flicking through digital data on our families and were fascinated by pictures of our ancestors. My most amazing find was footage of your great-great-grandmother, back in 2007. She was pregnant with her first child and each month was recorded on film. By nine months, her belly was a ripe peach, golden, taut and holding the promise of life.”
With a quick key-stroke, I insert my favourite clips before continuing.
“Maybe I should explain here, Kelia, that child-bearing a century later is a totally different matter. In our society, it’s no longer legal to carry a child in your womb. Once you marry or settle with a partner, you undergo a procedure similar to the clumsy IVF technique of past years. The result is that most couples have at least ten frozen embryos in storage, free of genetic defects, and selected for their sex, hair colour and other physical traits. The government sponsors the scheme and prohibits the survival of embryos that could burden society by deafness, blindness or other disabilities.
When the couple are ready to be parents, they choose one of their embryos and it’s placed into an artificial womb in a special laboratory. Here it is fed and monitored and the parents can visit occasionally if they desire to. Otherwise, they arrive on due date to witness the drainage and opening of the womb and collect their baby.”
I pause for a moment and think of the footage of my own birth. Of the womb-shaped, glass tank and the stainless-steel and sterility that surrounded it. What a false environment for a child to begin its life. I add the clip to the document and continue writing.
“Daddy and I decided we wanted to have you the old-fashioned way. The way God designed us to carry our children. I firmly believe that a baby needs to experience love while in the womb. We tried to give you that, Kelia. We danced and swayed to the beat of a thousand songs; we laughed and talked and included you in our conversations. When your little feet kneaded me from inside, Daddy would run his hands across my belly and whisper how special you were.
Sadly, our family and friends didn’t respect our decision, Kelia. They warned us of all the things that could go wrong. The discomforts of morning-sickness, and heartburn, the shame of stretch marks and the horrors of genetic defects. They asked how I would cope with giving birth and where I would find a doctor who would help. They predicted doom and failure but they were wrong.
Through our church, we found a woman who is familiar with the art of delivering babies. She spent hours with me, teaching me about breathing and childbirth and answering my endless questions. When my labour pains started, she came to our home at midnight and worked with the incredible force of my womb as it massaged you and squeezed you out into this world.
What an amazing privilege to have carried you Kelia. Words can never describe the depth of our joy at your arrival. Before your birth, we believed we were doing the right thing. Now we know that we did. You are one of few who can say along with the psalmist, ‘You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’
Daddy and I are facing criminal charges for what we did, but as you have no defects, we will probably escape with a fine. I have no regrets, Kelia. You are worth more to us than any money or earthly possessions and would be even if you were disabled. Always remember that Sweetheart. You are dearly loved.
All my love, Mommy.”
Quote from Psalm 139:13
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