Chronicles of Alien Development — Week 9

This pregnancy thing is scary.

On the day our little one officially graduated from an embryo to a fetus (or, if you’re partial to fruit comparisons, to a bing cherry alien), I had some spotting. It was faint, fleeting, and immediately fear-inducing. I spent the rest of the morning alternately praying and bargaining with the alien. I kinda sorta maybe promised a pony if the alien would agree to hang out in my uterus at least until the point of viability.

I was scared.

On the same day, we got the results of our first round of genetic tests. These tests assessed my genetic make-up, not the alien’s, and the potential for me to pass on a mutation that, if my husband also has a mutation, and if he also passed it on to our alien, could be bad news bears. There’s a lot of “ifs” there, but as a genetic counselor, I’ve seen the “ifs” become “whens.” The tests were reassuring, but mark the beginning of a testing odyssey that will create anxiety while we wait for each result. We chose to do these tests, so this is our burden to bear, but this is no longer my job; it’s my life.

My husband is scared.

He admitted this to me after I shared our reassuring test results. For reasons related to his career, we went ahead and told his boss that we’re having a him or a her. The alien is real to him now. He’s become attached. He is a father. And like any good father, he wants the alien to be healthy. He worries about it’s mother and encourages the alien to stay put with promises of future reggae jam sessions and puppy snuggles. He somehow avoided the promise of a pony. It’s coming though.

We want this baby.

I want this baby. Probably more than I’ve ever let myself admit before now. I have never been one of those women whose life goals included “being a mom.” My biological clock didn’t start ticking until much later in life, and even then, a day of playing auntie to my friend’s delightfully rambunctious rug rats would temporarily cure me of maternal leanings. After leaving a 10-year relationship at the age of 30 childless, I resigned myself to adopting at some point in the distant future…maybe. That’s a powerful protective mechanism against the ache that begins to invade you as you realize your opportunity to become a parent dwindles with each passing year.

But now I’m pregnant. And I’m scared.

I used to give my friends shit when they went all pregnancy cray cray on me and cited March of Dimes and What to Expect edicts while refusing to eat feta cheese at Panera or ordering decaf coffee (WASTE. OF. CALORIES!). Now I get it. It’s not that these women are such rule followers that they blindly believed there is listeria lurking in Panera’s cheese. They were scared. Following any and all instructions, whether or not they were rational, is the only control they had. They wanted those babies. Giving up cheese and alcohol and caffeine and lunch meat was trivial; they, and I, would be willing to go to any extreme to bring home a healthy baby. This is just all that’s in our control at the moment.

It’s a good thing they don’t hand out home ultrasound machines. I’d probably walk around with the damn wand dangling from my vagina, trailing the monitor behind me like an IV pole. Instead, this is a faith-based mission. I have to trust that our alien remains safely ensconced in my uterus. I will do my best to avoid getting listeria. And I limit myself to the March of Dimes recommended daily dose of caffeine (200mg). And I pray. And promise ponies. Sounds kinda parental if you ask me.