During my pregnancy I’ve felt a couple times like I wasn’t “doing it right.” Not that I wasn’t taking care of my body or baby properly, but that I didn’t care enough, and that meant I wasn’t going to be very good at this whole mothering thing. I didn’t feel that way in response to serious events, or in the face of friends with children, or anything like that.
It started when I was asked “what’s your countdown?” I had no idea what the person was talking about. Apparently it meant how many days left until my due date. I was only halfway through my pregnancy, and didn’t realize that ticking off each day like boxes off a list was a thing I was supposed to be doing.
Then I had the second, 20-week ultrasound. Most parents would be excited to get a first real glimpse of their baby. We were, but then we got the print-out pictures. 3D ones were impossible, because the baby had its face smashed up against the wall of my uterus so that nothing was distinguishable in 3D. I called her my Clayface baby.
But even the regular print-out pictures were strange, at least to us. I felt like I was supposed to be ooh-ing and awing, cooing and melting over these pictures of my baby, but all I could see was a skull. An alien skull, for the alien parasite in my stomach. Let’s be frank: the pictures looked kind of freaky.
It’s not that I didn’t want the baby, that I resented this thing growing inside me that I didn’t want. This is a planned pregnancy and I want my baby very much. But I just couldn’t view the pictures with rose-tinted glasses; the baby was still underdeveloped, and the big hollow eye sockets resting inside the skull outline were the most obvious part of the picture.
The alien metaphors only continued. Soon after that I began to feel movement. The little bubbles were nice at first, gentle tickles that seemed like pleasant waves hello from daughter to mother. But then I really started feeling the movement. My stomach started undulating. Tissues resting on my stomach would pop into the air, and I could watch what seemed like waves rolling back and forth across my now-prominent belly.
At those moments, I could think of little else than the scene from Alien when the titular beastie pops out of a human stomach. Let’s not even talk about the gory scene from last year’s Prometheus. I like these movements because they mean my daughter is doing well, but they also freak me out because, well, there’s a thing growing in my stomach and it’s time we all acknowledged that that’s a bit strange, right?
So sometimes I’ve been led to think that maybe I don’t care enough, or in the right way, because I don’t turn into a ball of goo at every supposed milestone in my pregnancy. I’ve been freaked out more often than not, and even when not freaked, well, I’ve never been much of a romantic anyway.
But that’s the point: I’ve never been much of a romantic anyway. Those sorts of things have never appealed to me, and why should that be any different with my pregnancy? I love my daughter, and I will take the best care of her. I don’t have to buy into elements of the culture the way that others might: we’re all doing what’s right for us, and that’ll be what’s best, both for us and our children.
*(The above image by Jomphong is from freedigitalphotos.net).