My husband and I are in the middle of a semi-serious, baby fever Mexican standoff. We both want a baby, but I am deeply afraid of pregnancy.
Now that we’re on the subject, I’m not totally comfortable with the aftermath of having a baby, either. Suddenly, there will be a stranger roaming around my house. What if it hates me? What will we do together all day? Do babies like Netflix?
They say you’re supposed to picture the audience naked when you’re afraid to give a speech, but babies are already naked. So, what do you do when you’re afraid of them?
Here’s my favorite coping mechanism: Completely Unacceptable Household Uses for Babies
I have two brothers and one sister. The order goes like: older brother (who just turned 30), me (28), younger sister (24), younger brother (almost 22).
When we were kids, our house was chaotic. Lots of people, lots of toys, lots of trouble.
It’s safe to say that my siblings and I divided our time equally between terrorizing each other and sitting in time out for our misdeeds.
There was no rhyme or reason for the way we picked on each other. But the absence of a motive never slowed us down. Growing up, we spent hours of our time chasing after each other, hitting each other, hiding each others’ toys.
Because we were older and responsible for “setting a good example”, my older brother and I were often in more trouble than my younger brother and sister.
The younger kids seemed to skate for offenses that would have landed my older brother and me alone in our rooms or worse. I’m still stinging from the time my younger brother bit me on the arm for taking the front seat in my mom’s car when he wanted to sit up front. He bit me so hard that he actually drew blood, and my mom’s only reprimand was to tell him to “buckle up.” The event reeked of injustice to me.
One day, tired of enduring punishments–but not at all sick of doling them out–my older brother and I decided to join forces. Usually, he and I were sworn enemies, but we had had enough of time outs. Enough of groundings. We decided that the only way to pick on our younger siblings and escape the consequences would be to work together.
I’m sure my parents would have been proud, had our motives not been so sinister.
Regardless, for a brief moment, my older brother and I became unlikely alliances in the greatest insult ever told.
(“Barbara” is not the insult. It’s my nickname for my little brother. I lovingly call him Barbara to his face, and he is fine with it.)
Our mission was clear: mischief without reprimand.
With our eyes on the prize, we went looking for Barbara and were pleased to find him minding his own business, playing with his cars. Unsupervised.
This was around the time that the “your epidermis is showing” joke was making the rounds at school. And if that gag had taught us anything, it was that the only way to tease without consequence would be to tell Barbara something about himself that was true but to make it sound repulsive and embarrassing.
And so it began…
Poor Barbara. We knew we had his attention by the distressed look on his face. He had no idea what a brain was, and now, it was the last thing he wanted to have.
And then came the all important denial.
It was beautiful. Our trick had been a success.
Then, it was time for the all-important, ever-present “run-and-tell-mom” move.
We had known it would come, but considering how clever the teasing had been, we expected we would at least be able to talk our way out of punishment.
“We were just trying to help him learn about brains,” we would say.
But then came a plot twist O. Henry himself couldn’t have written any better.
In a glorious twist of fate, my mother had affirmed our hour of teasing in the hopes of calming my younger brother.
Unknowingly, she had endorsed Barbara’s tormentors and rocked his 3-year-old world.
After realizing that she had not, in fact, righted Barbara’s concerns my mom spent a good 30 minutes explaining that everyone has a brain. Even his terrible older brother and sister.
We were never punished. I can’t be certain why, but I like to think my mother was too impressed with our cunning scheme. Maybe she just forgot to punish us, because she was in the middle of raising four kids under the age of 10.
Regardless, the alliance between my older brother and I quickly disbanded–probably over who ate the last cookie or something–and our house resumed its “every-man-for-himself” atmosphere.
But it didn’t matter. We had had our moment in the sun. It was brief, but “the brain tease”, as it has come to be known, is still the stuff of legends among my siblings. Even Barbara loves the story these days.
It will go down in family history as the day we committed the perfect crime.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I don’t have any children. Not yet anyway.
Sometimes, I feel like an imposter, because I spend a lot of time romping around the internet, reading the blogs of stay at home moms and being like “You hate cleaning, too?!?!” or “You’re tired, lady with five kids? I’m tired! Ha ha! WE’RE THE SAME!”
But we are not the same. No, we are not.
In all likelihood, a woman with five kids is tired because she’s RAISING FIVE KIDS. But I’m tired because I had to dress myself AND brush my hair today.
Parents: Even if you have one child and you’re doing the bare minimum as a caregiver, your day is 150 times more taxing than mine.
I respect the crap out of parents. But I’m also kind of enjoying life on my side of the fence. You know, the side where, if I get out of bed in the morning, great! And if I don’t, no one starves.
Lately, though, the Mr keeps threatening to destroy the delicate balance of my life.
He wants a baby.
Now, I like babies. A lot. I coo over babies in restaurants. I lunge after baby clothes in stores. I’ve even already named and renamed our pretend children.
So, you’d think I’d be psyched and say, “It’s baby time! Let’s DO IT!” (Not “it” it, but you know, let’s go get us a baby) now that the Mr wants to start a family.
But I can’t be psyched, because I am pathologically afraid of pregnant woman.
I like to call this disorder: PREGNOPHOBIA.
When I find out a friend is expecting or I meet a pregnant woman at a bridal shower, I try to give the appropriate reaction.
In my head, though, the interaction goes a lot more like this:
And I end up having to fake a head injury on the spot just to get away from my own awkward laughter.
For the record, faking a head injury mid-sentence is pretty tough to do, but if you suffer from pregnophobia, too, and you find yourself needing to flee from a pregnant woman, I recommend you squint your eyes and chew on your own tongue a little.
Pregnant women and mothers of the world: Please don’t be offended. It’s not that I dislike you. My own mother was a pregnant woman once–four times actually.
I’m just scared.
I cannot wrap my brain around pregnancy.
When you get pregnant, you are physically afflicted for 40 weeks. Even drinking bleach isn’t that toxic. If you drink bleach, you’re going to get sick or you’re going to die. Either way, though, I have to believe it runs its course pretty quickly.
But 40 weeks! That is a long time. And the whole time, there’s all kinds of CRAZY stuff going on in there.
And I know this, because pregnant women don’t spare you the details of their pregnancies. They want to tell you about seeing the baby’s limbs as they get farther along. Hands and feet apparently move across the belly, and you can see them through the skin!
The pregnant women I have talked LOVE THIS! But all I can think when they tell me about this is: THERE IS SOMETHING TRAPPED INSIDE OF YOU AND IT IS ALIVE!
And in my case, it probably won’t be a baby. With my luck, this thing will be trapped inside of my uterus for 10 months:
I will probably be the first woman in history to be pregnant with a web-footed T-Rex.
But growing a dinosaur inside of my body, while uncomfortable and frightening, isn’t even the part that scares me so much I might pass out.
Because after a baby wanders around inside of you for 10 months, changing your body and eating your food and sometimes making you sick, THEN you have to deliver the baby (or the T-Rex, in my case.)
I have been so afraid of this process for so long that it has taken on a life of it’s own in my imagination.
Sure, I’ve seen flashes of delivery scenes in movies, but I’ve never actually been there for all of the 648 hours that it takes to make a delivery happen. And assuming I do deliver a T-Rex with webbed feet, it’s going to take some heavy-duty equipment to get that thing out.
And whether you deliver a dinosaur or a human baby, here’s what I’m pretty sure happens during delivery:
And it takes three shaman and unicorn tears to bring you back to life.
And then, I imagine, you have to be sworn to secrecy or your memory is erased or something, so that other women won’t find out about what happens in that delivery room. I know my friends’ memories have been tampered with, because after their babies are born, their descriptions of the delivery are always pretty vague. Like “Oh, I was in labor for forever” or “They had to sew me back together.”
But as I think my drawings have shown, I have a pretty firm grasp of what’s going on, and I will not be fooled by their efforts to downplay the delivery situation.
I’ve tried to explain all of this to the Mr, but he is not impressed with my pregnophobia. He keeps trying to sooth away my fears by saying, “Hey, it’ll be OK. I’ll be there”
REALLY, MR? I’m going to grow a human/possible dinosaur in my body for 10 months, and you’re going to “be there.” Pfft.
Needless to say we’ve reached a bit of a stalemate for the time being. I’m not throwing away my birth control this month. But I feel certain that the 21st Century household has been contaminated with full-blown baby fever.
Sometimes, I even think the fever is overtaking my pregnophobia.
And even though I try not to take it personally when I pass pregnant women in the grocery store, I feel like these women know my house is infected with the fever and that I am weakened by the sickness. Because every now and then, just for a second, I’m sure they are staring at me, and I can feel them willing me to join them. I think pregnant women know their bellies are load weapons–full of babies!–to a girl struggling with baby fever. And ever so softly I can hear them telling me to cast my pregnophobia aside. And I want to yell, “Hey! Don’t point that baby at me!”
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