Natalie Kon-yu on ‘The Cost of Labour’: First Book Club

The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
Natalie Kon-yu on 'The Cost of Labour': First Book Club

Each month we celebrate an Australian debut release of fiction or non-fiction in the Kill Your Darlings First Book Club. For February that debut is The Cost of Labour by Natalie Kon-yu, out now from Affirm Press.

Natalie was nine weeks pregnant when the trembling began. Two weeks later she checked herself into a mental health unit. Rather than a woman with a health concern, the doctors saw Natalie as a vessel carrying precious cargo. This loss of agency carried on through childbirth and into her early years as a mother. Natalie discovered that she was far from alone.

In fact, her experience typifies the inequalities that weigh heavily on child-bearing women, as well as the devaluation of what is still perceived as ‘women’s work’. With bracing clarity and verve, Kon-yu tackles the outdated institutions, expectations and ideologies that hold us hostage as parents. The pressure is building and the cost on families is stacking up. Something has to give.

Drawing on personal narratives, history, social research and interviews, The Cost of Labour tackles the expectations that keep us all hostage to a dynamic unfit for contemporary society and offers hope for a way out of the trap.

Our theme song is Broke for Free’s ‘Something Elated’. Sound production by Lloyd Pratt.

Further reading:

Read a review of The Cost of Labour in our February Books Roundup.

Read about Natalie’s favourite books and reading habits in this month’s Shelf Reflection.

The Cost of Labour is available now from your local independent bookseller.

Stream or subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Other (RSS)

Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!



Alice Cottrell: Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings podcast. We’re excited to be back, bringing you more interviews with brilliant debut authors as part of the First Book Club in 2022. Our pick for February is the The Cost of Labour by Natalie Kon-yu, out now from Affirm Press. Natalie Kon-yu is a writer, academic and editor whose work has been published nationally and internationally. Natalie was nine weeks pregnant when the trembling began. Two weeks later, she checked herself into a mental health unit. Rather than a woman with a health concern, the doctor saw Natalie as a vessel carrying precious cargo. This loss of agency carried on through childbirth and into her early years as a mother, and Natalie discovered that she was far from alone. Drawing on personal narratives, history, social research and interviews, The Cost of Labour tackles the expectations that keep us all hostage to a dynamic unfit for contemporary society, and offers hope for a way out of the trap. First Book Club host Ellen Cregan spoke with Natalie to ask her about the book.

Ellen Cregan: Hey, Natalie. Thanks for joining me today.

Natalie Kon-yu: Pleasure, Ellen. Thank you so much for having me.

Ellen Cregan: We’re going to start with a brief reading from the book for those who haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

Natalie Kon-yu: Okay.

It began with a trembling in my legs. I remember being on the sofa, watching TV and noticing that my legs were shaking.

They were still trembling when I went to bed. I couldn’t make them stop. I was about eight weeks pregnant and my body was doing all sorts of strange things. But this felt different. I hadn’t read about trembling legs in any of the books that my friends had given me, hadn’t seen it listed as a symptom of early pregnancy on any of the websites I had been clicking onto in the last four weeks. My husband called a locum, who told me I was anxious and gave me a Valium. I went to sleep but woke at 2am and tossed and turned for the rest of the morning, my legs doing a cha-cha without my permission.

This went on for days. I couldn’t still myself. I grew increasingly anxious and oscillated between thinking that the tremble in my legs was caused by the pregnancy and worrying that it was caused by something that could potentially harm the pregnancy.

I spent hours on the pregnancy hotline. I tried doing guided meditations at night to calm myself before bedtime. I worked from home, embarrassed about this body that I could no longer control.

It is hard to write about this time, even eight years later. I can see myself from this current vantage point of wellness and it hurts to stare squarely at my past, vulnerable self. I want to wrap her up in blankets and reassure her that eventually everything will be okay.

I didn’t know this then, that everything would be okay. Those days were shadow days. All I knew at the time was that I was not well and that I did not know how to make myself well.

Ellen Cregan: Thank you. That’s such a harrowing start to a book.

Natalie Kon-yu: A harrowing start to a pregnancy, too.

Ellen Cregan: Indeed. So for those who are listening haven’t had a chance to read your book yet, can you give a brief summary?

Natalie Kon-yu: Sure. So the book started, it grew out of an essay I had been asked to write for Overland by Jacinda Woodhead, who was the editor then, and Jacinda and I worked together at VU, and we shared a printer and a photocopier, which was great because we would have chats, and when we had time, we would go and get a coffee. And I was very open about how horrible my pregnancy experience had been. And she asked me if I’d consider writing about it for Overland. And I had never thought about writing about it at all, and I said, look, if you think it would help people and it would be of interest, for sure. So I wrote it and I got lots of really positive feedback. And the essay did really well for Overland, I think, as well, becoming like one of their most read pieces at the time. And in doing the research for the essay, I was like, there’s so much here that hasn’t been written about or researched about or communicated that I could see in the Australian context, about both how the systems we put in place to support pregnant women and all pregnant people, and parents of young children are not adequate in this country. And yeah. I decided to write up a proposal and look for an agent, and within a few weeks, I had a contract to write a book.

Ellen Cregan: Wow. It’s such a personal book—how was it working with a publisher on your quite—maybe not disturbing, but definitely traumatic personal experience of pregnancy and birth, and those early days of parenthood?

Natalie Kon-yu: I think one of the things that really kind of galvanised me is when I published the essay, I had so many women, like, and it had never happened to me before, but I had women I hadn’t seen in 15 years writing to me. I had someone come up to me in the street once and thank me and hug me for writing the essay. And I’m very much of the belief that if it’s happened to me and I’m articulate and I’m feminist and I’m able to stand up for myself, and I have a PhD, and I have a wealth of cultural capital, then what must other women or other pregnant people go through? And to me, it was that real sense of duty almost, of like, if this is my experience, then—and I knew from hearing from other women that it had been their experience, too. And it just made me want to kind of shine a light on this thing that I think, because it’s so personal and so intimate and so physical, we keep to ourselves. And I really just kind of wanted to kind of get in there and bust those myths that I think are really harmful.

Ellen Cregan: Something that I was thinking about when I was reading your book, or like a little thought exercise I gave myself was to just think about the phrase, like, ‘pregnant person’ or ‘pregnant woman’, and what comes to mind. And it’s like, I think you talk about this in the book, actually—it’s like, a woman looking into the distance, like maybe on the beach, like cradling the belly. But then I thought about all the people I know who have actually been pregnant and the experiences they’ve had. And those two things just do not line up. (Natalie Laughs). How do you think we got here? And of course, you talk about this in the book, but just briefly for just verbally and briefly, how do you think we got to that weird sort of split?

Natalie Kon-yu: Yeah, I think the thing is we live in a patriarchal culture, and so our dominant ideas about women are ideas that have been, you know, interpreted by men. You know, the stuff we hear on the news and even the stuff we see in women’s magazines, they’re like a sanitised version of what being a woman is. And it’s full of those… It’s almost like this horrible, especially in, you know, white settler colonial Australia, this kind of horrible Victorian hangover we have of, you know, women being quiet and serene, and pregnancy being mysterious, you know, like, because it’s not experienced by men who have been the dominant storytellers of our culture for thousands of years—or hundreds of years in this country of settler colonialism. So it’s this ideology of what we want pregnancy to be, like, we want it to be miraculous and beautiful and pure, because it’s like the creation of new life—and of course, how can that be anything less than miraculous? And, you know, yeah, the creation of new life is miraculous and amazing and incredible—but it’s also hard, bloody work for the body that is doing it. But we don’t like to think about—I’ve discovered that we don’t like to think about women doing work in this culture. Like, whether we talk about housework—that’s not work, that’s just like loving your children and loving your household, or—we don’t like to think about women having careers, because that makes us quite uncomfortable that women would have any kind of measure of control over men, particularly white men. And we don’t like to think of pregnancy as work, because if we do, then we’re not acknowledging and we haven’t acknowledged how tough pregnancy can be for the bodies that carry them. And how do you start to talk about that? And how do you start to kind of, not make up for it, but make allowances for it going forward? How do you make sure that pregnant women are supported if they’re working, whether at home with their own families, or in the workplace? How do you, you know, how do you create those social structures or industrial structures where there have been none, you know, for centuries?

Ellen Cregan: Absolutely. So in the book, you talk a bit about the medicalisation of pregnancy and birth. Can you explain what you mean by that, and how you sort of talk about that in the book?

Natalie Kon-yu: Sure. So the thing about the medicalisation of pregnancy, like, and I’m an advocate of Western medicine, I’m married to a biomedical scientist, you know—I have no qualms with medicine, I think it can be an enormous force for good in our lives. But the way in which Western medicine has developed, and Western obstetrics, or obstetrics in the global north has developed in this country is from a male perspective. And, you know, it starts in about the 1800s in places like England and the US, where you start to see women’s births, and back then, as far as I know, the categorisation was historically women, even though I’m sure there were transgender people. But you start to see women’s births taken out of the home and placed into the hospital. And so typically, women would birth at home, attended by other women primarily. And then you start to see the creation of the medical profession in the 1800s, and an establishment of medicine and of what medicine should be. And not only an establishment of what medicine should be, but an undermining of traditional healing, or an undermining of what we would call midwifery. And so literally, pregnancy and birth is yanked away from the people who have been taking care of it for thousands of years, and placed in hospitals, which at that time were not sanitary, and, you know, cesareans were performed—it’s almost like cesareans were performed, and kind of the more dramatic the surgery, kind of the more medically relevant it was. It’s this very weird thing, (Laughs), which is like, the more you can crack a person open, like, the more successful you are. A very kind of weird mentality around a highly interventionist idea of birth, because the field was dominated by men, and because men weren’t great at talking about women’s private parts, let alone talking to women about their private parts, that’s their adage for them, not mine. You end up with this real misconception about what the body can and should do. So one of the things I found most horrific was that so many women died from cesareans, because women were wearing corsets while they were pregnant, to hide their pregnancy. And so this distorted the bones and the structure which all but made cesareans absolutely necessary. So rather than saying, ‘oh, you shouldn’t be wearing corsets because that restricts the pregnancy’, it’s like, well, no no no, we can’t show that a woman has had sex, so instead we’ll just do this incredibly invasive procedure…

Ellen Cregan: That is just a nightmare.

Natalie Kon-yu: Which, you know, many women didn’t survive. Yeah, it is a nightmare. And that’s where the high mortality rates come from. It’s not from birthing at home or birthing out on country, it’s from those early masculine models of intervention.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, 100%. I was listening to a podcast about… I can’t remember what, it was like a medical podcast, but it was about the very early days before doctors would wash their hands. And when women were giving birth in hospital and these mortality rates were, like, 60% if you were giving birth in a hospital…

Natalie Kon-yu: Yeah.

Ellen Cregan: But it was because doctors were going from handling cadavers, not washing their hands, going into obstetrics. And then there was one researcher who was like, ‘hey, guys, maybe we should wash our hands’, and all the doctors are like, ‘absolutely not, this is the way we do things, we know what we’re doing.’ And it feels like that is kind of a big problem as well. That it’s, like, this ego and this belief that like, we know the way.

Natalie Kon-yu: Yeah, exactly. And a completely inadequate understanding of germ theory…

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, yeah.

Natalie Kon-yu: Which, of course, you know, if they had bothered to ask the, you know, people that they then turn to the lay doctors or the midwives, so many lives could have been spared. So many.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah. So throughout the book, you interview quite a few people about their experiences of pregnancy and birth and parenting. How did you find the people that you interviewed, and what was that experience like interviewing people about such a deeply personal topic?

Natalie Kon-yu: Oh, it was amazing. And I’m indebted to every single person who spoke to me. So I applied for ethics clearance through my university, because I was writing the book as part of my work, and put out a call through channels that I knew, and got quite a few responses. And I found, I found those interviews quite traumatic to do, because I couldn’t believe the things that I was hearing the women going through. Like the woman I’ve called Calla, you know, her baby, the obstetricians were saying, ‘oh, we can only see one kidney, but it’s not a big deal for now because it could be the angle that we’re looking at, the other kidney could be hiding’. And for ten weeks, no one bothered to kind of go in there and double check, and make sure that the baby had two kidneys, because that’s a huge adjustment for a parent, to realise what life with a baby with one kidney is like, as opposed to a baby with two functioning kidneys. So to hear the stories of neglect, lack of care, it was really heartbreaking for me. But I was—and I was devastated for the women that I had interviewed, but I was also so grateful to them for speaking up and wanting to reach out. And every single one of them reach out out of a sense of, ‘no other person should go through what I went through,’ and I think that’s amazing. And so generous.

Ellen Cregan: I think what the interviews really reveal in the book, as well, is the extent, of course, the misogyny and the sexism, but also the racism in the medical profession towards pregnant people—and of course, more generally. But that was really hard to read.

Natalie Kon-yu: Absolutely. And you know, all of the stuff on First Nations women—and I think in Australia, we’ve just gotten so used to going ‘oh well, you know, First Nations women have a higher maternal mortality rate.’ And that’s where we end the conversation—not like, what can we do to prevent this? Why is it happening? You know, it’s just the way I’ve seen it prior to doing the research for this book and speaking to the people that I was, you know, lucky enough to speak to is just that, ‘well, these are the statistics for other women, and these are the statistics for First Nations women. And there’s a discrepancy. And then that’s it.’ And so in writing the book and being able to talk to people, particularly to Karel Williams, and to understand what the issues had been for First Nations women, and then to read about initiatives like the Birthing In Our Community that’s happening at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, and the incredible successes, you just realise it doesn’t have to be this way. You know? (Laughs)

Ellen Cregan: Absolutely.

Natalie Kon-yu: (Laughs) And it’s…yeah.

Ellen Cregan: I was reading a while ago about a program in South America for Indigenous women there, and they’ve put, they’ve built these birthing centres in hospitals where these women have, like, birthing tools that are relevant to their community. So like a rope coming down from the ceiling so you’re not giving birth on your back, which from what I hear is actually not great for a lot of people anyway.

Natalie Kon-yu: Yeah!

Ellen Cregan: And just making an environment that is culturally safe and appropriate, and then that’s actually improved mortality rates heaps! Which, of course, it has! (Laughs)

Natalie Kon-yu: Oh course! Yeah, absolutely. When you give the power back to the people who know the situation best, then great things can happen. And, you know, if you think about giving birth lying on your back, you know, simple gravity alone tells you that doesn’t seem to work. That doesn’t seem like the best way of doing it. But in our culture, it’s the dominant way. You know?

Ellen Cregan: It really is.

Natalie Kon-yu: It’s about having the pregnant person or the birthing person be passive.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah.

Natalie Kon-yu: Yeah.

Ellen Cregan: So as we heard at the start of this podcast, your writing stems from this really personal experience of pregnancy, and a very personal place, but you also draw a lot from academia and literature as well. What’s your approach to balancing the personal and the research when you write? Because I think you do it fantastically well.

Natalie Kon-yu: Oh, thank you. Look, it’s not something I ever set out to do, but I think there was a few motivating factors. So I come from a working class, non-English speaking background, I’m the first person—my generation, in my Mauritian and Italian family, we’re the first generation to have higher education. And I remember going through my undergraduate degree at Curtin University and loving it, and at the same time, always being struck that the ideas I was learning at uni, I couldn’t communicate to my family in the language in which they were being communicated to me. And that really annoyed me, and upset me, because I thought—you know, the people who need to most learn about power imbalances and how they’ve been disenfranchised are people like, you know—I always thought about my mum and my grandmothers who, you know, came from poverty, you know, came here as outsiders, had survived multiple traumas, and I felt would be empowered, or at least be able to understand that the things that had happened in their life were not their fault—you know, were caused by systems far greater than them. And it always just irked me that I was learning this stuff in a way that…wasn’t easily translated across into the community. And I think, I decided to do a PhD in creative writing rather than literature because—even though my undergrad had been in lit—because I was like, I don’t want to write 90,000 words of theory that no one is going to read or understand, you know, that ten other people are going to read and understand. And as a feminist and as a post-structuralist, I was very aware that, you know, my understanding of anything I encountered is subjective. So I have to put myself in the text, because I’m not reporting facts, I’m showing my interpretation of them, and I am a fallible, partial human being. And I think that’s important to recognise. You know, you have to recognise your own limitations. I’m not going to come at Foucault the same way as like a French theoretical scholar is going to come to Foucault. We’re going to have different takeaways and different interpretations. And so it was a feminist impulse and it’s, I guess, an impulse that comes from being working class and being with air quotes ‘culturally diverse’, and wanting to make ideas that I think are empowering and liberating, and wanting to communicate those in a way that I think is relevant and more relatable. I think that’s what I’ve always been going for, and it took someone else to articulate it for me. I was like, ‘oh, I feel like I’m not a proper academic because this is what I do…’ And she’s like, ‘no, you’re working on, you know, you’re working on translating your work for the outside.’ I was like, I never thought of it that way! I just thought I was trying to make things easier for myself. But once I started to kind of own that, I felt that has been a really freeing thing for me, and I’m really passionate about doing it. Because I do think that theory is amazing, but I just think that the language in which it’s written and discussed is elitist, and then it gets lost. And what good is it if it gets lost?

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, I’ve always thought that academic language and academic writing is kind of just slowly digging its own grave a little bit…

Natalie Kon-yu: Totally.

Ellen Cregan: Like, by being that really inaccessible, really specified knowledge required to understand it. So what you’re doing is amazing.

Natalie Kon-yu: It’s the only way I can come at it, right? Because I don’t have a theory brain either. Like I just, I start reading for a bit and I’m like, oh my God, this is so boring. This is so abstract. This is so not relevant. You know, and if it’s not relevant to me, then I can’t even imagine—you know, with a bloody PhD in the area—then I can’t even imagine how irrelevant it would be to other people. And to me, that seems like a big loss and, you know, something that I would like to kind of do something about in my own limited way.

Ellen Cregan: So spending so much time thinking in extreme depth about pregnancy, birth, and parenting must sort of change your brain a little bit. Has it changed the way that you maybe parent, or maybe support pregnant people in your life? Like, has it changed the way you sort of interact in that way?

Natalie Kon-yu: I think it probably has. Like I think…I have a group of friends, we’ve co-edited a few anthologies together, and I think we’ve all just gotten to the stage now, our kids are a little bit older, and we are now more comfortable in asking each other for help. And I have become more comfortable in asking people when I need help—you know, ‘can we get together with all of our kids’, because that will be easier for me than, you know, just me and the two kids who are so sick of the sight of my face, you know. And I think, it’s made me think of parenting…as it should be, which is far more communal than we are currently doing it. We have a very neoliberal, individualistic approach to parenting, and I don’t think that’s good for parents, but I also don’t think it’s good for kids. And like, for me, one of the great joys of kind of growing up with friends who’ve got kids and our kids growing up together, is seeing their relationships foster with each other—but also seeing the way in which my children take to other people’s parents, and the special relationships that I have with some of my friends kids—I’m currently one of my friends’ kids favorite aunties because I swear a lot, and he thinks I’m really cool. (Ellen laughs) But I also think it’s because he and my daughter are so similar, and there’s a real similarity between the three of us. And so I think, it’s great for your kids to have a lot of people around them who love them, rather than—and I think I’ve been embracing that more, both as a way of getting help for myself, because I don’t think it’s possible to do it all yourself, or you and your partner, but also as a way of kind of enriching their lives with other adults who think differently, and other kids who they don’t know from school. So I think it’s given me much more of a kind of, a permission to be more collaborative in my parenting than I used to. I used to feel like I used to have to do it all, and take responsibility for all of it. And if my kids weren’t happy with what I was doing then somehow I was failing. And I think it’s taken a bit of that pressure off, which has been terrific. I mean, it’s been hard in the years of COVID, but even in COVID times, we would find places where, when we were allowed to meet within 5km, that we could meet, and our kids could walk around and, you know, hang out together when the playgrounds were open. And we all got a bit of respite, because we got to chat and, you know, brainstorm what we would do in isolation and how we were coping, but also giving our kids a bit more of a sense of community, that was really important.

Ellen Cregan: I think a lot of my positive childhood memories are those—because I grew up with a huge family, like 20 cousins, lots of aunts and uncles around all the time. And of course, my mum had lots of really close friends, who had kids my age, and a lot of my really positive memories from childhood are those times when your parents were off on one side talking, and you could just go off and play, and imagine things, and just kind of have that freedom. And of course…

Natalie Kon-yu: Oh, totally.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah. It’s just… I think the idea of the nuclear family is, like, a bit sick and twisted. In a way.

Natalie Kon-yu: Totally. It doesn’t help anyone. Unless you have a patriarch who’s at the head of it, then it helps him enormously. Not all patriarchs have to be men, but most of them are, let’s face it. (Both laugh). But, yeah, same for me. I grew up in a family of, you know, 20 cousins as well, and my godparents had three boys. And my best memories are either hanging out with my cousins at the back of my grandmother’s house, or being with my—well, that was Yugoslavian then, but they’re Croatian now—being, you know, roaming this huge market garden out in the northern suburbs of Perth with these boys, and just like, you know, having the time of our lives, exploring the sheds, exploring the gardens, you know, just…yeah. It was amazing. I loved it. And so, being away from all of my family who are in Perth, I think that sense of community is important. And, you know, I’m lucky that we’ve got lots of people that we would consider chosen family here. And I think as we become more diasporic, as people move for work and move away from their family, you know, creating those family connections for your kids is still really important.

Ellen Cregan: So I’ve got two more questions to ask you, and they’re quite big. So.

Natalie Kon-yu: Okay, go for it.

Ellen Cregan: First big question—what impact do you hope your book will have?

Natalie Kon-yu: Oh, God. If anything, I just hope that it will help pregnant people and parents feel less alone. Like, I just… I know I found the whole experience of pregnancy so incredibly lonely, and the whole experience of early parenting, like that first year when you’re on mat leave. And I was lucky to be on paid mat leave for a year, like, I fully acknowledge I was in an incredibly privileged position. But so completely lonely. So, you know, my deep wish is that it makes people feel less alone, and that it makes people start to question the structures that we live in, and, you know, collectively think about, you know, how do we want our society to work for us, as parents or as pregnant people? And what agitations can we make to kind of get a vision of parenthood, or pregnancy, or care that works better for everyone? And there are visions out there—there are countries that do it way better than we do. And so if anything, I just hope it makes people kind of, you know, stick their head up and look around and say, okay, it doesn’t need to be this way. So what can we do, to kind of change how we’re living on a personal level, but also obviously a political level? Like, it’s a political book, I’m a political beast. (Crosstalk.) at some point, you know. I have a fair dig at conservatism and neoliberalism all the way through, which I think has been terrible for women. Just terrible.

Ellen Cregan: You’ve led perfectly into my last question, because my last question is, what is your utopian vision for pregnancy, birthing and parenting in Australia—if you have one, but it sounds like you do.

Natalie Kon-yu: I do. I have one where we listen to people who are pregnant, and what their experiences are, and that we modify. If coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that our health systems are woefully inadequate. One of the midwives I spoke to in the book, and she was terrific, and I’ve called her Bridget in the book. She said, you know, ‘when funding gets cut from any area, it’s women’s services first.’ And back in the day, you know, and you talk to women of my mother’s generation, they used to be in hospital for a week, and there would be people to help them in those first few days, look after the baby while they got used to waking up all night, every night, while they were healing from either episiotomies or cesareans or anything else that might have gotten wrong. Like they had time to rest and recuperate, and they had dedicated birthing centres in hospitals, and they had, you know, education classes that were free and available to all. These things have gone. And so we need to bring them back, because, you know, they were a lot better for women. Women, you know, would come home a little bit more rested than we are getting home now, which is like… I was going to say I’ve been lucky, I’ve had major surgery each birth. So I’ve had three or five days to recover. But obviously, you know, that’s still, I’m recovering from major surgery, not just giving birth. So it’s important for all pregnant people to have that time to recover and to get used to what life with an infant is like, because it’s not easy. An infant in the early days is really, really hard. So I think we need to look at what is happening and listen to obstetricians and midwives when they are telling us these systems are inadequate, and they are potentially—I mean, not only are anxiety and depression going up in pregnant people and their partners, but studies have shown that there are possible long term effects in the children of those people as well. So, you know, if we say we care about families then let’s bloody care about families, and let’s put things in place. Let’s make childcare more affordable, let’s make parental care easy to divide between—you know, to use a heteronormative couple, men and women—because we know in our culture, men don’t get enough time, fathers do not get enough time with their children. And that has been shown to have adverse effects on kids later down the track—and what we’re finding now is on fathers, too. So I want a model of parenting where there is enough infrastructure in place for people to be cared for adequately during pregnancy, that they get leave, they get all the appointments they need, they get the classes they need. In birth they get proper education, they get the chance to make informed decisions, they get time afterwards in the hospitals to get used to life with an infant—like I’m only talking a few days, but that would be better than what we’ve got. And then you have more accessible and affordable childcare and better leave options between both parents, so that everyone can experience what it’s like to look after their child, so that the child gets the benefit of both a father’s love or a mother’s love, however you define your family, but they get chance with both the birth parent and the non-birth parent at home, taking care of them, because I think that’s really important for our children, to see that caring is a responsibility for all genders, not just one. So yeah, that’s my utopia.

Ellen Cregan: I think it’s lovely, and it’s also, like, pretty easy to achieve, with just a few of the right people in the right places. Yeah, I think that’s wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today, Natalie, it’s been lovely to talk to you.

Natalie Kon-yu: Oh, thank you Ellen, I appreciate your interest and—yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Alice Cottrell: That was the February First Book Club edition of the Kill Your Darlings podcast. We’ll be back soon, but while you’re waiting, you should drop in on the KYD website for new commentary, criticism, memoir, interviews and reviews. If you’re feeling inspired to write, then check out our wide range of online writing courses. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.