Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
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Milada Vigerova

Photo by Milada Vigerova. See more of Milada's work at

Question: Why did you wait so long? Why did you wait so long? The refrain hammers at the heavy double doors of your head and heart.

Double FSH, double ideal maternal age, a double-negative when Rick, the doting, inarticulate man with whom you doubled up, inadvertently doubles down on blame and shame re eggs: you don't have no good ones left, right? A donor ovum doubled with his triple-premium sperm—quantity: 15 million per milliliter of ejaculate; motility: sixty percent; morphology: oval heads, long tails—whisked in a dish and implanted in your uterus would give you 50% odds, 49% better than IVF with your twice-aged reserve. The likelihood of twins or triplets quadruples.

The double-helix structure of DNA allows for replication, but yours has unwound, a single spiral staircase tapering off into a singular void. Rick refuses to uncouple, says having a genetic double is half as important as having you. You double your resolve: you'll try and try.

You search photos in the clinic's database for a donor who could be your double to avoid double-takes—at the grocery store, the park, school—down the line. After hours of searching, you double back to doubt. You pick a fight about double standards that rages until the clock's single digits indicate dawn. You both love your jobs: he will keep his, you will double under the pressure of dual roles, quit. You've been double-dog-daring him to say it will be otherwise since the night before, during double-digit hours when you should have gone to sleep. I make double for Chrissakes, he finally shouts, when you're both red-eyed, nodding off, seeing double. He falls asleep, you duplicate the argument with yourself.

Your therapist urges you to quit your binary thinking: you are more than mother/not mother. You answer with a snatch of Whitman: I contain multitudes.

You write this story in the second person, implying an "I" but distancing yourself from myself. You yourself are infertile, I myself may be a mother for all you know. It's point of view as double-talk, a two-faced hybrid of fiction and non. You are grappling with a split in your maternal desires, not I.

Answer: You wanted freedom and a family: the female double bind.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.

Amy Lyons earned a 2019 summer residency at Millay Colony for the Arts and a 2019 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellowship. She has an MFA in fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars and was nominated in 2015 for a Kirkwood Literary Prize in fiction. Her fiction has appeared in Lunch Ticket and 100 Word Story, and her arts journalism has appeared in LA Weekly, Backstage, and Paste. She lives and writes in Harlem.

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