Let's Panic About Babies!

How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant Who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, and Finally Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being

Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy

St. Martin's Griffin

 
Part I
THE SWELLING



1. IT SEEMS THAT YOU ARE PREGNANT
Greetings, woman. You are gloriously full with child, living proof of the miracle of creation, or else you wouldn’t be reading this. Unless you’re just curious. Or you’re a man, and you have some sort of fetish. Well, as long as you paid for the book and are not soiling it in a dim corner of your local bookstore, we’re okay with that.
But let us return to you, the reader who is actually, validly pregnant, and not at all some moist-palmed pervert. Our first question is: Are you sure you’re pregnant?
It’s a little-known fact that 83 percent of people who believe they’re pregnant are not; of those people, 47 percent stuffed an embroidered keepsake pillow under their shirt to see how it would look. The remaining 59 percent are merely confused about how The Secret works. And for good reason! A strong desire to manifest the symptoms of pregnancy can result in all sorts of misleading indicators. Vomiting, fatigue, bloating, cessation of one’s period: sounds like a normal day at our house! So how is a woman to know?

What You Might Be Instead of Pregnant


Not-pregnant


Hysterical


Recovering from a plate of bad clams


A snake that recently swallowed a full-grown ewe


Pumpkin costume!


Unable to button your pants


Nurturing an eight-pound subcutaneous grapefruit


A man

Only with professional confirmation! But maybe not even then! So-called “blood tests” and “urine-sampling kits” are (probably) no more than a thinly veiled excuse for necromancy. No one knows what doctors actually do with your blood and/or urine or whatever other fluid they demand from you that day. We suspect they shut the door, bury your sample beneath the floorboards, and leap into a mountain of that day’s copayment fees.
And yet their “tests” are the only ones that hold up under legal scrutiny, so we must grit our teeth and soldier on.
Here are some ways you may have validly discovered that you were actually pregnant and not imagining things:
• Multiple positive at-home pregnancy tests
• Positive blood test using blood taken from your very own arm
• Doctor shakes you and demands that you maintain eye contact while he tells you you’re pregnant
• Everyone’s congratulating you, and not in a sarcastic way
• You’re standing in a bookstore, reading this book (What are you waiting for? GO TO THE CASH REGISTER.)
• You bought this book while holding your positive pregnancy test in one hand (We don’t think that’s the least bit strange.)
• Your doctor’s lawyer sends you a letter confirming your pregnancy and asking that you not call his office anymore (Or was it all just a dream?)
• Swelling of torso increases weekly until baby falls out (Or have you been hiding someone else’s baby in your underpants?)
BUT HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
There’s no getting around it: you did it with someone. Don’t look away from us, or ask what “it” is. You know. We all know. You’re just making this harder on yourself.
In order for pregnancy to occur, someone’s sperm had to get up inside you. This may be a little more technical than we need to get, but specifically, it went up your vagina and traveled into your uterus where an egg was waiting to be fertilized, yearning and yearning for a blissful commingling with its partner-to-be. And lo, life was created.

Other Fluids They May Demand from You
1. Sweat
2. Earwax
3. Cry into this vial!

Here are a few examples of how pregnancy might have occurred. Check off which ones might apply to you!
• Pleasant bout of lovemaking with your partner
• Hot quickie in a bathroom stall of an Outback Steakhouse
• Furtive congress in the backseat of a Honda Accord with your ex-boyfriend
• Joyless, obligatory coition with your long-time spouse
• Professional insemination by a trained authority
• Unsanitary and off-label use of a turkey baster by your lady friend
• Bizarre sex dream about your old social studies teacher turned out to actually have happened
Did you know? Some people still believe that you can get pregnant without being directly inseminated. Crazy fools! Here are some examples of what will never, ever work:
• Wading in a swimming pool after the high-school boy’s swim team finished a race
• Wearing one of those T-shirts that says FETUS across the chest, with an arrow pointing down
• Hanging out with those cheap sluts you call “friends”
• Disturbing a forest gnome’s century-long slumber (unless he is actually just a very tiny man and he woke up because you were having sex with him)
• Nuzzling Vince Vaughn’s forehead and/or elbow crook (note: this may actually work)
HOW YOU FEEL
Having discovered life stirring inside, you may have any number of reactions. Beatific smiles are common, as are tears of joy, or leaping about the woods singing traditional hymns while hunting for small, delicious animals to sacrifice to your god(s). Or maybe you’re just sitting there, reading this book while your ankles swell.
On the other hand, we have to face the possibility that you weren’t trying to get pregnant at all. Perhaps you’re entering the first flush of menopause and you assumed it was too late to get pregnant. (Surprise!) Or you thought you were too young to start a family, but now that boyfriend of yours seems awfully pumped about this whole baby deal, which is weird because you’re barely out of school and is it just because he can’t get over how God made his semen so powerful that it broke through the condom?
It’s important to know that what you’re feeling is entirely normal and correct. But is it? Not necessarily.
Here is a guide to the emotions you should be having.
TABLE 1.1 APPROPRIATE EMOTIONS REGARDING PREGNANCY
No matter what you’re feeling, you’re pregnant now, and if you’re reading this book you’re in it for the long haul. So let’s wipe away those tears and other effluents and move on, shall we?
HOW NOT TO SCREW UP
Pregnancy is a strange and bloated time, but more important, it’s a time when every single one of your decisions will leave an indelible and unmistakable imprint on your baby forever. Every decision you make from now on, even the tiniest choices, will be of the utmost importance. Scared yet? If you’re not, you must be drunk. (You need to cut that out, by the way.) The pressure is on now, almost-mother! Fortunately, you’ve got this book, so at least you’re on the right track no matter how many mistakes you’ve made in the past. And we’re sure there were many.
TIPS FOR THE FIRST MONTH
Now that you’re pregnant, it’s time to straighten up and fly right. Throw out your junk food, pack away those cigarettes, seal up the uranium mine in your basement, and purchase some sensible, crotched underpants.
WHAT TO AVOID
Lead-based paint. If you own a home or enter any structure built before 1978, you’re exposing your precious fetus to the deadly lead-filled paint that was slathered on the walls and ceilings in more ignorant times. If you think there’s even the slightest chance of lead being anywhere near you, it’s your responsibility to get rid of it. Purchase a power sander and get to work! Just release all that lead into the air and let it drift back down and settle into the earth where it belongs. There’s no need to interrupt this beautiful, natural process.


Cats. Cats are a known spreader of trichinosis, due to their love of raw pork. Trichinosis is a fatal disease that will turn you fat and hairless before it kill you. And cats aren’t just dangerous for their disease-carrying: they have sharp claws and teeth; they can navigate in the dark using a complex navigation head-system they call “whiskers,” thus giving them an advantage during blackouts; and the only flesh they enjoy feasting on more than pig is newborn babies. People who are foolish enough to harbor cats do so at their own peril! Now that you’ve got a baby on board, however, you’re petting for two.
Eye contact with cats. Cats will suck the burgeoning life right out of you, using their infamous feline mind-powers. Avert your eyes, and move along.


Recreational X-rays. There’s no doubt that seeing what your insides are up to is good fun, but in the end, your poor fetal intruder is going to resent being saturated with massive doses of radiation. So as much as you think you might have a hairline crack in your pelvis that your Facebook friends just have to see, you might want to exert a little something called “self-control.”


Endless night-trolling for anonymous sex down by the docks. Let’s face it. There’s nothing like the illicit thrill of being taken from behind by a mustachioed stranger, but the time for that frivolity has passed. You’re not getting any younger, and besides, all that cruising is what got you into this mess in the first place. Really, haven’t you noticed that you only get action if you call yourself Steve and wear that Jeff Bridges mask you bought for Halloween? It’s time to bid adieu to that brand of dangerous fun. It’s gone for the next nine months—along with your waistline!


In fact, while you’re at it, also avoid:


Any sex at all. Remember: your baby is watching you! And that’s just not right.


Anyone who seems even a little catlike. Cats are known for their ability to shapeshift. Be on your guard!
A typical upper Midwestern-style birthing hut.
While avoiding the above, you should begin:


Weighing yourself. It’s vital to weigh yourself in the first week of pregnancy, so that you know the specific tonnage you’re larding on and how bad you should feel as a result. A baseline weight will help your self-esteem plummet quickly and easily as the months fall away. (For more information on weight loss and pregnancy, see our companion book, Let’s Panic About Lady Shapes!—with ordering info for our patented line of Sta-Shapl-EE salts, teas, foams, and goops.)


Learning to vomit quietly and delicately. There’s nothing less attractive than the echoing sounds of regurgitation accompanied by loud moans and pleas for heavenly release. A slight pallor, a few beads of moisture on the brow, a slight rosiness in the lip from recently expelled Hawaiian Punch—these effectively communicate a palatable level of misery, while reassuring the pregnant woman’s friends and acquaintances that she will not unleash her lunch on anyone’s shoes.


Monitoring your home for traces of radon and carbon monoxide. If you find any of these toxins, immediately move to the country and build a passive-solar bamboo, straw-bale, or used-tire-and-beer-can house from the ground up with your own two blistered hands. If you don’t, your radioactive superbaby will be able to light fires by snapping his fingers.


Building your birthing hut. What’s more fun than constructing a leaky structure of twigs, laundry lint, and stray bits of roofing material? Not much! Especially when you’re getting ready to crawl inside with musty blankets and give birth in this sacred, holy nest of your own devising. Don’t forget to bless your hut when it’s done. Make up some crazy dance! Burn a wig! Throw oranges at the neighbor’s dog! When you grow up in a society without meaningful birth traditions and are thus compelled to create your own, the sky’s the limit!

It Really Happened! Lucille’s Story
“I still can’t figure out how it happened. My husband Bernanke and I have separate beds—actually, they’re in different homes—but once in a while I let him borrow my underpants (I’m not sure why, I don’t ask) … so maybe? Ew. Anyway, when I told him the news, Bernanke tried to celebrate by thrusting his hands down my skirt, but I told him, No thank you, sir! Our baby didn’t need to put up with another outburst of his filthy nonsense. He said, “How about a kiss, then?” and I threw up into the sink. I immediately recorded this moment into our baby book, so I could add it to my list of Bernanke’s cunning efforts to embrace me, while he sobbed into his tie. He’s so cute when he’s emotional and across the room from me!”


—Lucille Liebestraum, age 46, West Egg, New York


It Really Happened! Delilah’s Discovery
“It was about eight in the morning and I’d just put a pan of gluten-free zucchini muffins in the oven. Lacy, 11, Jebediah, 8, and Stump, 6, had just harvested everything out of the garden as part of their home-schooling project on medieval farming methods when I turned around and puked all over Lacy’s model of the solar system she’d made out of dried gourds. Boy, was she steamed! I told her that vomit was one of Nature’s ways of telling me I was with child, so she went and got the mop and a bucket, and then she said the cutest thing: ‘I hope you have another girl because I am sick of cleaning up everybody’s shit all by myself while the boys get to work on their Civil War dioramas!’ That Lacy! Whenever I assign housework along traditional, gendered patterns she gets as mean as Granny’s chihuahua.”


—Delilah Lu, age 33, Longmont, Colorado

Sure, satyrs are fun, but you can never get them to commit.
Taking herbs. We hear that the Chinese developed a working medical system 5,000 years before us, so maybe we can learn a little something from these ancient, wise people. Here’s what we found out from the little Asian fellow who runs the corner grocery on Alice’s block.


Yo-Yo Ma is indicated in cases of night sweats and plagues of vampires.


Gong Li is effective for heartburn and bosses who look annoyed when you leave early for prenatal yoga.


Chow Yun-fat is excellent for repelling gangsters.
Amy Tan makes you invisible.


Or, if you insist on Western remedies because you’re (no judgments) a racist:


Earl Grey tea prevents fox-hunting accidents.


American ginger root improves digestion; enables mnemonic retrieval of the names of dead sitcom actors.


Grapeseed extract is a useful source of antioxidants. Also attracts satyrs.
MEANWHILE, INSIDE YOU … THE FIRST MONTH
WHAT’S GOING ON UP IN THERE?
No one really knows what’s going on within the human body at any time, but we can provide you with, at least, an educated guess.
During the first month, most experts agree that the baby is flopping around inside you; most likely near the vagina, because that’s where he or she was made. Want to know what he (or she) looks like? Wonder no more.
Here’s your baby!

Except this big:

WOULD YOU GUESS…?
Right now, your baby is thinking about … nothing at all! He’s just a dopey clump of cells.
Despite being a bitty thing and not even knowing how tiny he is because of his astounding lack of brain matter, he’s already managed to develop a heart, a digestive system, and a nickname for his placenta (he calls it “Sacky”). All this overachieving has helped instill in him tragic feeling of overconfidence. He’s kind of an asshole, is what we’re saying. Not to worry: this will be straightened out soon enough.
LET’S PANIC ABOUT BABIES! Copyright © 2011 by Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy. All rights reserved.