Tracy Crisp’s writing is wonderful. It is a pleasure to read her writing even when it is making you gulp with sadness. (Hi Tracy!). Here at the Griffith Review is a piece of hers on motherhood, babies, perfection and ableism:
We have pushed our way through the strong heat of Adelaide’s hottest summer since nineteen-o-something to get here, but there is nowhere to rest. We get to the door and are faced with a blur of faces: children and their parents. We see them shuffling so that we can squeeze in, sit next to each other on straight-backed chairs with seats of sagging wicker. And now we will wait. We will sit, just as the others are sitting, for as long as it takes. If we can just get in, everything will be OK.
This man, the surgeon we are waiting to see, has about him all the mysticism of a craniofacial sorcerer. Celebrities are thin on the ground in Adelaide, but this man is one and everyone knows of his work. For years, the television and the papers have given us regular stories about the children flown in from developing Asia, their heads and faces swollen and twisted, a surgical miracle performed, their lives transformed.
So it is that in this waiting room we all believe that this is the only person we can turn to. He isn’t, of course. There are other craniofacial surgeons. Even in Adelaide there are others. Craniofacial conditions aren’t all that uncommon, and they can’t all be fixed by one man. Lesson one in a string of hundreds that we will learn.
Our baby is six weeks old, and we are struggling with all the normal things. I must recover from a caesarean, we aren’t getting enough sleep, he isn’t feeding properly, we don’t even know how to fasten the nappies. We have delivered our baby into Adelaide’s hottest summer in many, many years and we don’t have air-conditioning.
And there is something wrong.