Watching Trump with my baby bump
Raging hormones, raging ratings
It feels like overnight that I made the transition from early pregnancy to where I am now, well into my second trimester and unable to hide my bump even if I wanted to. As the baby flutters around, the reality of it all has truly set in. This is happening. I am excited — and the excitement grows a little each day as this boy grows.
During my first trimester, though, I was fraught with the kinds of second thoughts that are hard to avoid when you’re new to the pregnancy thing, and when a baby seemed to be closer to an idea than a reality. Was it cool that I hung out in those hot tubs before I had the positive Clearblue stick in hand? Will I feel guilty if I go for my usual dirty chai, or should I hold the espresso shot for peace of mind? Perhaps the weirdest question I asked myself in those days was: Is it OK that I am stressing myself out watching Donald Trump spew his hateful rhetoric during interviews, rallies and presidential debates?
I spent much of each day during those first 14 weeks wondering what I could stomach — and that went for politics as much as food. As my hormones raged, so too did Trump’s standings in the polls. This is temporary, I told myself about both the nausea and Trump’s popularity.
What’s in a name
I’m far enough along now that printouts of sonograms are on the fridge. (And let me tell you, I can’t help but think that even this baby’s grainy profile is beyond adorable.) My husband and I are playing around with names. Do we want to reflect some of his Swedish heritage? How about my Thai and Chinese heritage?
Yet somehow, there has been another name that has dominated this week, at least in the bigger picture. The Donald. Donald Trump. Or, as John Oliver brilliantly argued, Donald Drumpf.
During my early pregnancy — that part of the miracle of life in which you are either about to fall asleep in inappropriate settings or completely awake in the middle of the night in your own bed — mainstream pundits and data-crunching outfits like FiveThirtyEight alike were confident that Trump didn’t stand a chance. My husband, who is much more politically astute than I am, even though we first met while both working in the political world as state legislative staff writers, assured me of the same.
And then Super Tuesday happened this week.
I very nearly smacked my husband’s arm as the returns came in. I thought you said this wouldn’t happened, I said in a tone so accusatory I surprised even myself.
In my head, I also called out FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, a man not known to be wrong on matters like this. What I found did not reassure me.
What if this egomaniacal man born into an empire-in-the-making — one who brilliantly enjoys free television advertising by boasting of his call to turn around all Muslims at the border and by being coy about his thoughts on the KKK — manages to get GOP support behind him during the nominating convention this summer? I’m due to be laboring at that time, and I hope I’m not sweating bullets from poll numbers and political possibilities in addition to the labor.
Guns and onesies
A close friend who knows not only how rough my first trimester was but also how seriously I take things had messaged me the day after one of the early GOP debates — the ones where an army of candidates still stood on stage — and only half-jokingly said, “Okay, so, please tell me that, in your delicate (read that as the most sensitive way to say ‘pregnant’ to a pregnant friend) state, you did NOT watch the Republican debates.”
I had. I had to know how the candidates’ platforms are, or aren’t, changing.
That night, Fox News moderator Maria Bartiromo said: “Mr. Trump, your comments about banning Muslims from entering the country created a firestorm…. Is there anything you’ve heard that makes you want to rethink this position?”
From the transcript:
[DONALD TRUMP] No.
Look, we have to stop with political correctness. We have to get down to creating a country that’s not going to have the kind of problems that we’ve had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers, with the — with the shootings in California, with all the problems all over the world. I just left Indonesia — bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.
[MODERATOR NEIL CAVUTO] Mr. Trump, are there any circumstances that you think we should be limiting gun sales of any kind in America?
[DONALD TRUMP] No. I am a 2nd amendment person. If we had guns in California on the other side where the bullets went in the different direction, you wouldn’t have 14 or 15 people dead right now. If even in Paris, if they had guns on the other side, going in the opposite direction, you wouldn’t have 130 people plus dead.
Before impending motherhood, my fears around a Trump presidency would have been focused on principle and, yes, of course, on the effects of policies. It has been about access, inclusion, equality — about creating a big tent of a world that better positions people economically and socially, instead of one built on prejudice, exclusion and opportunity gaps.
Those principles still drive my choices for political leaders. Yet as I start to look at options for day care centers, I’m asking questions with a slightly different emphasis. Would a Trump presidency create an even more volatile climate at home and abroad? How will the gun debate look in three years? How many more mass shootings will we have by then? Tell me again, how good is the security at the day care center? What would Trump’s words and actions do to further inflame terrorism? Will I be afraid to pack up my son for a trip abroad?
I remember that in a January interview with CNN, Trump touched on mass deportation. “A lot of people think that’s a shameful chapter in America’s history, though,” Jake Tapper said, interrupting Trump’s lead-in on Eisenhower. Trump’s response: “Well, some people do and some people think it’s a very effective chapter…. Look, we either have a country or we don’t. If we don’t have strong borders, we have a problem.”
This baby growing inside me has plenty of immigrant roots, including two Baby Boomer–generation grandparents who immigrated, legally, to the United States in the 1970s from Thailand. I can’t help but think that the comments around immigration that Trump — though, sadly, not just Trump — are spitting out have too many echoes to the climate that allowed World War II’s Japanese internment camps to become a reality.
I just read that following Trump’s win in seven states on Tuesday, Google searches for “how to move to Canada” shot up 1,000 percent. I also read this terrifying dig into the archives to find out how the country’s paper of record had covered another demagogue in 1922.
I’m still holding on to hope that Trump remains a phenomenon, but my maternal instinct is already playing out scenarios. This is an American baby, regardless of whether this country’s president upholds American values like equality and liberty. This is our home — and fleeing to welcoming Canadian islands isn’t an option. (At least it doesn’t seem so yet. If there is one thing parents are consistent about, it’s telling me that nothing is the same after that delivery day.)
One thing I do know: Whether pea in the pod or post-partum, elections will now be about voting for two — at least until my baby is old enough to earn that Election Day sticker.