in utero, in retro

Until I became pregnant, I didn’t know anything about pregnancy. I’ve always known how to *make* babies, but what happens afterward was in retrospect, a dark, cavernous mystery. I’ve been around my pregnant sisters, friends, neighbors, teachers, and yet I never knew this joyous, draining, infuriating and confusing process. This isn’t like the time Mike found me in the grocery aisle, staring at the ground beef because no one had ever told me how to purchase red meat before (specifically, my mother) even though I’ve been a meat eater for most of my life. I didn’t ask, so I never knew more than what everyone figures about pregnancy: sex makes a baby, a pregnant woman gets morning sickness, a pregnant woman eats for two (tables, sometimes), and a baby arrives and cries, poops, and eats a lot.

Most of the time, I wonder, “How do people do it?” They just do. Because I am one of those people, I have a conscious need to judge other mothers and pray to God that my son doesn’t become like that one kid who collapsed into a crying heap floor in the cereal aisle because his mom said no to Coco Puffs or that one girl at the restaraunt who spent the entire meal with one finger up her left nostril. And if my son ever does any of these things, dear Lord, don’t let it last long. Let me have that Mary Popppins magic to quell temper tantrums and keep fingers where they belong.

I’ve been doing an independent study with the creative writing director and at our last session, I said, “What if my son hates me?”

“Of course he will!” She laughed. “Didn’t you hate your parents?”

She had a point. I did terrible things out of spite. But we all did that, right? Didn’t we all sneak out of our rooms and flee to some teenage clandestine party? Didn’t we know what combination of words would transform our calm parents into some mega-mothra-beast? Didn’t we set fire to our outside trash can, dump water on it in a panic and later claim no responsibility? Didn’t we smuggle Asian poppy plants in the bellies of puppies because our parents wanted us to get a job? Okay, maybe that was just me.

So far, my unborn son has been good to me. So far.

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