I once heard that there was once a woman, long ago, who became known as the primordial Eve. Not by her own people, presumably, as they cannot have known what her descendants would become, but by modern scientists; geneticists who spend their lives in laboratories, examining the immense data of the human genome.
We are all related to her, this Eve, all of us who made our way out of Africa all those thousands of years ago at the dawn of human existence. She, like her biblical namesake, is quite literally “the mother of all who live.”
I sometimes wonder about her, Eve. I wonder what her life would have been like back in the cave days, and most of all, I wonder how many children she actually had, that they would later survive to take over the globe as if in the fulfilment of some ancient prophecy.
I wonder if she had more children than Octomom with her Octo-brood; than King Solomon with his seven hundred wives and concubines; than that peasant couple in the 1700s who had 62 children (it’s in the Guinness Book of Records, peeps. That was a thing).
I wonder if she had more children than Piglet’s donor.
Yes, Piglet is a sort of member of a sort of family that spans the globe, but unlike Primordial Eve, we didn’t need to walk out of Africa on the heels of a retreating ice sheet. We could just log onto Facebook and see them all there; the worldwide family of similar looking children across three continents.
Before having Piglet, the potential implications of using a donor registered as remote flickers of panic on a timeline that already seemed riddled with obstacles. It didn’t seem worth dwelling on thoughts of tangled family relationships when the possibility of making it even to pregnancy was far from certain. I had seen women in my situation struggle-sometimes for years-just to get a positive pregnancy test. I had seen miscarriages, failed fertility treatments and even, in one case, a hideous off the grid operation with no anaesthetic aimed at improving chances of pregnancy. I was prepared for a long slog, a lottery, an expensive gamble with no guarantees. And then suddenly I was pregnant. Fears of failed fertility treatment quickly turned to the terror of miscarriage, stillbirth or something else going hideously wrong. I hardly dared to consider what the future might hold. I was taking it one day at a time.
And now, two years on, I still don’t spend my days and nights worrying about what to tell Piglet about his unconventional family set up. He is happy, and he is loved. What else could he want to know? That unlike his friends at nursery, he doesn’t have a father, but instead has thirty-odd half siblings that might one day fill the void?
Fortunately, these siblings are not local. I say this not because I have any wish to keep them at arm’s length, but because the idea of feeling bound to people I’ve never met by convoluted blood ties is just a little bit too complicated for my brain at this point; my brain which is still coming to terms with motherhood as a concept, and with myself as a member of the Worldwide Sisterhood of Mothers, a sorority that I sometimes feel a fraud to be representing; me, the single mother with no troubled backstory of doomed romance ending in a bitter custody battle, and the breadwinner relying on my mother for childcare, and feeling no sense of kinship with the stay at home mum brigade whatsoever. Where do I even fit in? Not with the married mums or the single mums, and certainly not with the stay at home mums. But that is a story for another day. Another day where I look at the faces of the Worldwide Siblinghood of Mini-Piglets, and wonder, will he ever fit in with them? Will they meet up one day, in some neutral location in the middle of an ocean, and swap stories of uncanny similarities and coincidentally parallel life paths, or will they discover their siblings unintentionally, like in a schmaltzy story from a women’s magazine, during a fresher’s week party at university or on a gap year, and suddenly wonder why this new friend looks so remarkably alike?
Or will they simply not care? This kind of set-up will all be normal by then, right?