Sophie Joy

I gave birth to my daughter alone. Caught between hospital regulations which said ‘father only’ and Singapore law which would not allow visitors inside our house to care for our older children. So Daddy stayed at home and I took a taxi to the hospital where I was greeted by a midwife who kept leaving the room. I said I was fine. I told the baby to make it quick. I screamed extra hard when it was almost time to push so that the doctor wouldn’t leave me alone again. When she was born, I tried to take photos as they stitched me up but the angles weren’t quite right.

She was conceived before all this. Back when we travelled and gathered and partied. When I was four months pregnant, I sang karaoke at a Christmas party. Microphones were passed from singer to singer. Hugs and kisses. Communal snack bowls. Not a thought.

When I was five months pregnant, the hospital receptionist asked me to fill out a questionnaire about recent travel to China. Some sort of virus. I signed it and went back to my magazine.

She is three months old now. This is her world. My hands are cracked from sanitiser but hopefully gentle enough for it not to matter. My parents in the UK have never held her. I hope some day soon. She coos and gurgles at me from her pram. I smile beneath my mask.

Emily, Singapore