I was not born – I was cast upon the earth. My resolute refusal to leave the birthing cave I had inhabited since the day I was conceived forty-two weeks ago, was the first act of my rebellion against my mother. Thus I was the sixth attempt of my parents to bring a child into this world. Before they had had a chance to develop into a fetus, my embryonic ancestors were already leaving my mother’s womb again through the toilet – devoured by the city’s public sewer system, their brief earthly existence came to an abrupt end. I, however, having grown rapidly in the few months as guest in the uterus, thrived magnificently. I lacked nothing. I passed my time with the only toy I had: my umbilical cord – I grabbed it, sucked on it and explored it with all my ever-developing senses. Since I already had the urge to be very active as an unborn baby, I found immense pleasure in twisting and turning, doing somersaults, and testing the strength of the walls around me with violent kicks from my little feet. The more I gained strength and used it to move in ever new ways and perform gymnastic exercises, the more time my mother, suffering from cramps and discomfort, spent in bed. She, hoping that I would soon leave her body, and I, vigorously determined to remain in it.
This was the first of our countless power struggles, which my mother and I were yet to have. However, when I continued to refuse to be born into the forty-second week of our pregnancy, my mother’s patience finally snapped and she ordered my father to drive her to Linz to the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy. Why she chose this particular place to put an end to her martyrdom, I did not understand until much later, as my inner-corporeal universe was at that time still completely free of any religious foolishness of the born. My mother, however, trusted in the power of the Son of God, the one nailed to the cross, her silent prayers, and the murmured rosaries of the Christian nuuns who, possessed by God’s mandate to pull as many souls as possible out of the bodies of expectant mothers and shower them with holy water to save the newcomers from the damnation of eternal purgatory. My refusal to join the world of the born was based in the ever-increasing fear of having to leave my sheltered den and be helplessly at my mother’s mercy as a toddler. Although my mother dearly wanted to own a child, for her the reason for her desire to have children was none other than her self-imposed compulsion to being able to present to the public a husband, a house, money, and above all, a good reputation. Attributes she believed she had to fulfill in order to qualify for a perfect family life in the eyes of the elitist upper class of the small town, which would earn her social respect. Her quest for recognition and absolutist power was not to be opposed by her already weak-willed husband, nor by her soon-to-be-first-and-still-unborn son, whom she was determined to bring into the world even against his will. In order to make her totalitarian claim to rule incontestable, she surrounded herself only with people whose will she could break and whom she could thus dominate without resistance. I, for my part, had no desire to become part of her dictatorship, and pressed my now very strong legs against her pelvis as a sign of my resistance, and in this way defended with all my might my right not to want to be born. My mother had no choice but to ask – no! – to order the young doctor who was examining her to induce my birth artificially without delay – an order he promptly carried out. Shortly afterwards he administered a drug cocktail to my mother: my first bitter taste of the world outside of mine, which only strengthened my determined resolution to stay where I was. If I had always taken for granted the permanent steadiness and protection the walls of my living cave presented to me, this view changed the moment they suddenly began to contract with increasingly violent and frequent movements. For the first time in my unborn existence I experienced a state of panic and I suddenly realized that my mother was willing to use any means to enforce her will against mine.
How would you feel if the walls of your room suddenly started to curl and contract, coming closer and closer to you, pushing you – naked and unprotected – out of the only exit into a threatening, cold and far too bright world.
So while my mother was screaming in pain and invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom she considered an expert in childbirth matters, even though she had been declared an eternal virgin by the Pope, and doing breathing exercises with every contraction, which a nurse courageously demonstrated for her, I began to toss around and turn, driven by anger at my mother and the desperation of my hopeless situation. When my amniotic sac burst and I was left high and dry, I had finally had enough of this birth! Better I followed the example of my embryonic ancestors and – albeit at the last minute – leave my body, uniting myself as a star child with infinity, than to be exposed to the will of this malevolant woman for all my life to come. At the moment when my mother’s invocations of saints turned into profane curses and imprecations directed against my unborn person, this was the sign for me, in view of my increasingly threatening and hopeless situation, to depart prematurely from life. With my last strength I turned around my own axis as often as I could, which caused my mother severe pain and bleeding. All at once there was turmoil and panic outside the womb, which was on the verge of collapse: While the Catholic nun intoned a loud Lord’s Prayer to drown out my mother’s cries of pain and profane curses, the nurse rushed out of the room to summon the senior physician, whom the attending physician had sent for when he listened through his stethoscope to my heart beat, which was getting weaker and weaker. To top it all off, the midwife stuck her hand into my mother’s birth canal, grasped my feet and tried to pull me into the world, which led to my – intended – strangulation through the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. The senior doctor who rushed into the room, immediately recognized the seriousness of the situation, ordered the midwife to stop her attempts to deliver me forcefully immediately and instructed the nurse to prepare the operating room for emergency surgery.
So I almost made it! Asserting my will against that of my mother’s, I flew closer and closer to the realm of my unborn ancestors in a heavenly beautiful state of suspension, when, with an incision like a sickle, the senior physician slit open my mother’s abdominal cavity to lift me into the world. My body had already taken on a bluish color, my little heart, drowned in my mother’s blood, had stopped beating, when fate intervened in a completely unexpected way. With one glance, the doctor knew that I was already clinically dead. He reached for my lifeless body to tear it away from my mother’s open belly when, because of his precipitous haste and the fact that I was still surrounded by amniotic fluid and blood, I slipped from his hands and hit the tile floor of the operating room hard, head first. This act of divine intervention, for me an injustice that screamed to the heavens and an extremely painful experience, abruptly and in an extremely brutal way ended the ascension to my ancestors and catapulted my soul back into my body. Roaring with pain and shock, angry at God and at the world I had fallen into, and above all, my mother, I hung from the utmost stretched and still wrapped around my neck umbilical cord – between heaven and earth – from my mother’s womb, who, still under general anesthesia, was totally oblivious to my crash landing into life. My cry of despair when I realised that despite all my efforts I had been born alive after all, filled the senior doctor, the nurse and the nun, who intoned a resounding hallelujah, with a sense of relief and joy. I was lifted up and freed from the noose of my umbilical cord. My lungs were cleansed of my mother’s blood and my head wound was sterilely dressed. Slowly, the bluish color of my skin changed to the typical red color of a newborn, of which I now belonged to.
When my mother awoke from her anaesthesia an hour later and was responsive again, my – for me – lost battle was described by the senior physician as a medical miracle, by the nurse as a heroic act which testified to the high art of the doctors, and by the bloody nun as an act of God’s merciful grace. As the doctors could not rule ouut the possibility that I might have suffered brain damage as a result of the circumstances of my birth, my mother was told that the potential cause of this was the lack of oxygen caused by my self-strangulation, as well as my drowning in her blood, which had led to my first cardiac arrest lasting several minutes. My deep fall, evidenced only by the bandage on my head, was dismissed as a minor slip – with the well-considered intention of avoiding a court case. To my mother, my survival was the reason for an eternal debt I had incurred that she would remind me of for decades to come; a debt that brought me into life and nearly erased hers. Although at first I developed perfectly normally, in the following years my mother became more and more convinced that the doctors had been right in their fear that I might have suffered brain damage, because in their eyes I did not behave as a child should behave towards its mother: far too lively and rebellious, I dared to contradict her, and only followed my instead of her will.
I, on the other hand, had very quickly come to terms with the now unalterable fact that I had finally been born after all, and decided to make the best of my existence on earth and under no circumstances ever to submit to my mother’s rule. Since this woman possessed a will as strong as mine, a power struggle began between us that was to last all our lives. I had survived my triple death. Neither the rope of the umbilical cord, nor the blood of my mother in my lungs, nor the deep fall to the earth were able to dissuade me from my destiny: To fulfill a mission, though still completely unknown to me, yet certainly significant for the future of humanity. Was not the mythological triple death the sign of being a chosen one among men, and generally reserved only for kings, heroes, or even gods? What must Providence have ordained for the one who, even before he could walk the earth, had victoriously escaped certain death – and even three times?
Even before I saw the light of day, therefore, my triple death influenced not only the way I was born, but my entire future life ahead – shaped by a clash of Titans, such as Zeus had waged war against Kronos. I would never allow my mother to erase my existence and absorb and devour my life force. All her desperate attempts to undo my birth in order to maintain her idea of a horribly perfect family failed against the reality of my existence. We depend on each other like day and night, hope and might, life and death.