As part of the Mine blog tour Shots his pleased to be hosting below an extract from the novel today. -
‘You’ve worked in a nursery before, I take it?’
Ursula says. I nod, even though it was only for a short time and long ago, during my paediatrics term as a medical resident. Like all young doctors, I rotated through multiple specialties, trying to find the one that suited me best. Obstetrics, paediatrics, emergency, psychiatry, among others. Ursula doesn’t need to know how little I remember of those early days; how much I’ve blocked from my mind. There must be twenty or so infants in here. I have no idea where my baby is.
‘Here we are,’ Ursula says, tugging me to a stop beside a humidicrib on the left, beside the window. ‘Your baby.’ My heart skips a beat. Part of me doesn’t want to look. I fixate on the outside of the humidicrib. It’s an unfamiliar model: matt-grey base with a rail strung along the side, see-through plastic over the top like a snow globe, enclosing another world. A rectangle of blue card is sticky-taped to the cot wall in front of me, coming unstuck at one corner.
Baby of: Sasha Moloney
Then a list of numbers: his weight, date and time of birth. I have to bend around the card to see him. There are wires taped to his chest, a tube emerging from his nose. He’s tiny – smaller, even, than the teddy I bought him, waiting in the cot back home.
His chest sucks in between his ribs, his abdomen ailing with each breath. He doesn’t look comfortable. His arms and legs are kindling-thin, with wads of padding at the knees and elbows for him to grow into, his skin almost translucent with purple streams of veins beneath. He looks like he’s struggling. Like he knows he should still be inside my womb. Him being born prematurely – I blame myself. As his mother, the one who was supposed to keep him safe, I know it’s my fault. Yet despite my guilt, there’s no stirring in my chest, no tightening of my heart.
He doesn’t look like the baby who appeared in my pregnancy dreams. I stare at him as I would any other premature newborn. I don’t feel like his mother at all. Fleetingly, I’m struck by a terrible idea: what if this isn’t my baby? But I reorder my thoughts, pushing that inconceivable notion to the back of my mind.
Mine by Susi Fox published by Penguin on 14th June 2018 (£7.99)
The baby in the cot is not your baby. You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, desperate to see your child. But when you are shown the small infant, a terrible thought seizes you: this baby is not yours. They say you’re delusional. No one believes you. Not the nurses, your father or even your own husband. They say you’re confused, potentially dangerous. But you’re a doctor – you know how easily mistakes can be made. Or perhaps it isn’t a mistake? Everyone is against you; do you trust your instincts? Or is your traumatic past clouding your judgements? You know only one thing… You must find your baby.