Things That Keep Me Up At Night
So . . . I have an eidetic memory, also known as a photographic memory, which means that I’m one of those annoying people who can remember everything in vivid details, and I don’t have the luxury of forgetting. (Nobody is more annoyed by this than the BF, who has a habit of misremembering things and gets tired of being corrected by me. But, seriously? When I’m right I’m right. As usual, I digress.)
The point of divulging that little tidbit is not to brag about my memory (because I truly feel that it’s a curse and a disorder), rather to let everyone know how much certain stories heard over the years have resonated with me, and how they can remain equally frightening each time I think about them. For example, there are certain episodes of Dateline that will remain indelibly stamped in my head. But, the stories that are the ultimate in scary? Are the pregnancy stories!
I’m not talking about routine stories about childbirth, although those are typically hellatious, disgusting, and make me shut my legs tightly in anguish. I’m talking about the “I didn’t know I was pregnant” stories. Because being accidentally pregnant is one of my greatest fears, as I’ve never wanted kids, and as the BF has recently pointed out, I’m not even remotely maternal (he’s convinced I’m somehow coded differently, which I somehow don’t see as a compliment, even though he shrugs it off and says “it is what it is.” I happen to hate the phrase “it is what it is,” and think it translates into either “I have nothing meaningful to say,” or in this case, ”it isn’t an ideal situation, but I guess I’ll deal with it for the time being.” Okay, digress, digress, digre-hess!).
When I was in college, there was a classmate who mysteriously missed a trimester. When she returned, I made a point of catching up with her in the caf. She told me that she’d had a baby — meaning that, while she was missing a trimester in school, she was having her own third trimester at home. I had a really confused look on my face, so she told her story.
To set the scene, she’s one of those diminutive little women — enviably petite and cute (even after having a baby). Although she’s tiny and adorable, with that body type occasionally comes menstrual issues. She said that she had already been irregular, so missing a few periods was never cause for alarm. What WAS cause for alarm was a curious chronic swelling of her feet, which finally drove her to the doctor, who in turn told her that she was five months pregnant. I nearly dropped my sandwich. (Thank God for her vanity and love of cute, tight shoes.) Are you fucking kidding me?? FIVE MONTHS pregnant? As in too-late-to-do-anything-about-it-if-you’re-so-inclined (at least in the state of Illinois. [Don't ask why I know that. Just know that I'm on top of my shit!])?? And for the first time in my life, I felt really good about my muscular, highly regular body type
I asked a lot of questions. So . . . the ONLY thing you noticed was foot swelling? Your stomach didn’t hurt? It wasn’t moving? You weren’t hungry? No weight gain? Are you kidding? She calmly answered my questions: Yes, No, No, No, No, Hell no I’m not kidding. I’ve got the baby pics to prove it.
I finally asked if she was on birth control. She revealed that she was on the Sponge.
Mmm hmmm, I thought, channeling my mother’s skepticism. See, I don’t trust that damned Sponge. It never seemed like a good idea. First of all, it’s too damned big. Why don’t you just cram a kitchen sponge up there, for chrissakes? Then, how do you know it’s in the right spot? I guess you just stick it in, and put it in the hands of the Universe? Also, if you have a . . . ummm . . . man of substance (which I pray you do) . . . isn’t he knocking that thing into the next organ? (FYI, another story that scares me is a friend who had to report to the emergency room for Sponge removal. Her boyfriend must have been a champion. I will stop this trend of digression one day. I promise.) It had been taken off the market for a reason!
So, I blamed this story on the Sponge, and told myself that if I used multiple forms of birth control, that there would never be a surprise addition to the family.
Fast forward some years later. I’m still “safety girl,” and have remained successful. Probably TMI, but I’m proving a point.
We were in NY last week, talking to a random man, and the subject of the birth of his son came up. I’m not sure why because his son is a teenager, but again, this is a story that I’ll never forget.
Allegedly, his girlfriend was having intense abdominal pain one night, so he took her to the hospital where, after an hour or so, she gave birth to their son. Hunh? Okay . . . according to him, neither of them knew she was pregnant.
Pardon me, but WTF?
I damn near had to sit down and fan myself while the BF laughed at my apparent shock and awe. Then I couldn’t help thinking that these people were idiots.
“So,” I said, “what you’re telling me is that you had NO IDEA that she was NINE MONTHS pregnant?” He shook his head no.
I was persistent, and he was used to it, as I guess nobody reacts well to this story. Because why would they? “There were NO symptoms? She hadn’t gained any weight? NOTHING??? No baby bump whatsoever??”
He explained that she carried the baby beneath her rib cage. This made no sense to me. And it continues to make no sense. I’ve since examined my rib cage. Extensively. I can count each rib through my skin. There is no way in HELL that a baby could be “hiding” under there, unless it was replacing a lung. Yet it happened to her. And again, I’m scared to death.
As I didn’t know this man, I couldn’t really delve into his birth control methods in an attempt to analyze and deconstruct how this could have POSSIBLY happened.
Now really . . . even if you are open to having kids, could you imagine going into the hospital with what you hope is either a bad case of gas, or in the worst case scenario, acute appendicitis, and coming out with a BABY?? One that you didn’t plan? Or even think about? One that you were actually taking medical measures to avoid? Forget that cute house you were thinking about buying — or even that hot dress; now you have to plan for an education!
If that ever happened to me, there would be a few issues. Because I’ve never wanted to have kids, I would feel like the Universe was playing the cruelest joke possible. Also? If I had an unplanned pregnancy? Carried unknowingly to term? I shudder to think of the birth defects that child would have suffered at my hand. His/her blood type would certainly be an exotic (albeit disgusting) blend of Ciroc Coconut and Pinot Noir. He/she would have subsisted on an irregularly distributed diet of sushi, pizza, trail mix, the occasional post-hangover turkey burger, and all things spicy.
One would think that my fear would send me into a life of celibacy, but somehow I keep taking the risk. With several forms of birth control (none of which are the proven-to-be-horribly-unreliable Sponge or Depo shot), a calculated ovulation schedule and regular, surprise pregnancy tests. Call me paranoid if you like, but I plan to never make one tuition payment during the course of my life.
But here’s the thing . . . if I did manage to get pregnant, with all of my preventative measures, I would have to have the baby and name him Houdini (before putting him up for adoption What? I kid! I kid! [pardon the pun]), because he will have been the greatest escape artist to have ever survived. He would either be very cool or a diabolical sociopath. Come to think of it, never mind.