My son; my flesh and blood – except he’s not. He was Created from a stranger: a man’s lineage frozen at minus-196 degrees for five years, waiting for life or failure. Created by my friend plunging needles into my abdomen until my body and brain felt poisoned and more. Created by a doctor, repeating repeating, the same procedures while her desperate patients hope that this day this day will be an extraordinary day. Created by kindly lab technicians, sending hopeful email updates and from ten embryos selecting the one that will become my son. Created by my partner from weat-bix and thickshakes, iron and calcium sucked from her blood and bone; drawing life from her body and mind to create another. And from a single cell of mine: DNA from stoic and restless doctors and farmers once-young folk who rode motorbikes cooked honey cake sang at the local pub and never heard of reciprocal in vitro fertilisation or on-donation of embryos. In a frenzy I interrogate strangers: what does it mean to parent a baby you didn’t create, or create a baby you won’t parent? My son flings puréed sweet potato around the room and gleefully announces ah-goo. How can I divide infinite love subjective identity and contested meaning by the denominators of sleepless nights milky cuddles toothless grins half a genome fourteen-thousand dollars a birth certificate and family stories of that time when… Now that babies can be created with precise chemical methodologies what is the formula to create a parent? Which path will lead to the happiest of new lives? My nine embryos remain five days old for up to ten years until their futures are selected signed and reimagined by their forever-parents (re)creating unknown beginnings anew.
Steph Amir has a background in public policy and research, including as a local politician. She is a current Writers Victoria Writeability Fellow – a fellowship for writers with disabilities. Her creative work has been published in Archer, Babyteeth, Bent Street, Echidna Tracks, Ghost Girls (upcoming), n-Scribe, Phantom Kangaroo (upcoming), Writing Place, and the Melbourne City of Literature’s UNESCO postcard series. She volunteers as a future scene writer and editor for the Future Problem Solving Program. Steph lives in Melbourne with her partner and two young children.