‘Birth Plan’ by Uschi Gatward

Gatward’s debut collection English Magic, published only a few months before her tragically premature death at the age of 49, has generated a couple of other mentions, but since Liars’ League had the privilege to publish ‘Birth Plan’ first, it’s my pick. The story is narrated by a pregnant mother and told in the beguilingly novel form of a hospital birth plan: I read it when I was a week overdue with my first baby, and at the end I just completely dissolved. It has that wonderful mixture (which I also love in ‘Elephant in the Tower’) of humour and pathos: there are some superbly acid laugh-out-loud moments, and yet it ultimately, inevitably transmutes into something so tender, so tentative, so hopeful, so fearful, that anyone who’s had a child, or been one, can’t fail (I hope) on some level to identify with it.

First published on Liars’ League “Beginning & End” May 2014 and available to read here. Reprinted by Arachne Press in We/She, 2018 (ed. Cherry Potts & Katy Darby) – buy it here

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