“I myself prefer dogs.”
–Catherine Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman
Ever since getting married (a grand total of a month and a half ago) I wait with baited breath for Mother Nature to confirm that I’m not pregnant every 28 days. That’s right, I actively look forward to That Time of the Month to reassure myself that a Mini C./J. is not in the works. In days leading up to it I get unbelievably tense and engage in ridiculous conversations that I’m guaranteed to regret 4-5 days later.
“Does this milk smell off? …CRAP! I’m pregnant!”
“No you’re not,” says J. with an irritated but still loving roll of the eyes. “The milk’s bad.”
“Oh.” (Goes back to pouring cereal)
Occasionally I can border on the paranoid. The first month after marriage I was “late,” which mean two whole days of angst that I think I hid well but during which I secretly gnawed my metaphoric nails to the wrist.
“What if I’m pregnant?” I demanded morbidly one night as we brushed our teeth.
“You’re not,” J. said (again, and just as irritated/patiently).
“But what if I am?!”
“Well, that’ll certainly change things.”
“How can you be so calm??!!” I hissed.
“About a purely hypothetical situation?” he countered.
See, even though it would “change things,” I don’t think J.’s world would be rocked to the core if the Fates decided to play this horrid, horrid joke on us. But then again, he’s not the one who would have to host this alien parasite for nine months, forcibly expel it, and then still find a way to be the primary breadwinner for our family in addition to a full time parent. I’m a tough girl, I can handle quite a bit, but the mere thought of that last scenario makes my knees knock in quivering terror.
And I’m sorry, I don’t even find babies cute! Anathema, I know…but just think about it! They’ve got these big alien heads they can’t support, they don’t communicate (in any language I speak, or will until I do decide to breed), and if there is an opening in their body anywhere, something gross is coming out of it. I like little kids better. I’ll take the Terrible Two’s over the Irrevocably-Broken-If-I-Touch-It Infants any day of the week!
Now, before I’m burned at the stake, I know I’m going to think my own children have been individually sprinkled with awesome dust. I’ll probably even think they’re cute in spite of the many varieties of goo seeping out of them (my husband’s a fine piece of work, if I do say so myself, and I don’t look like a horse, so the odds are in our favor). Just…not yet. Not for a few years. Not while he’s in school, not while I still have to work, and not while the idea still turns me into a catatonic mess.
And even though deep down I can admit I look forward to having a family with J. (a long way down the road), I suspect in the meantime, every 28 days, I’ll be going through this same process of fear, soul searching, and grudging resignation. At least I am assured of one ally.
“How long is this going to go on?” I whined to Venice after Scare #1.
She came back with a chipper, “12 times a year. Enjoy!”