A story for a sibling and a poem for pregnancy September 12 2015
I should preface this post by stating that I am not pregnant and the content that follows is not the cryptic lead up to a birth announcement. But, if you are reading this post, it means that you are a friend of mine or my mother. So, as a friend or my mother, you would be well aware that I have three spirited little girls. My girls are beautiful, adventurous, creative, and a bundle of laughs and occasional tears wrapped up in tutus and seaweed and worms. They look like sisters but they are very different beings.
Each of my pregnancies with these girls was also wildly different. Each time I thought that I was having a boy; each time I wore pregnancy differently; and each labour felt like I was dying a slow death in a different way. But even with all of these experiences and being pregnant or nursing for most of the past decade, I will never be an expert in pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding or child rearing. Child rearing, by the way, is one of my least favorite parenting terms ever. That and vaginal birth after cesarean.
When friends are pregnant or encountering parenting dilemmas, I try not to tell them that I think one thing or another is the right thing to do. I will tell them what I tried (which was often different for each of my children) and whether it worked for me or not. But, as you know, there are a trillion pregnancy and parenting books and blogs to read that will tell you the “right” thing to do, the “best” thing to do, the ideal weights, the ideal foods, the ideal bedtimes, the ideal schools, and I will refrain from being one of “those”. Truthfully, I am still just winging it. All of this, and the fact that I seem to be surrounded by pregnant women and small children all.of.the.time, motivated me to write some new stories.
My first story is for the child that is about to welcome a sibling into their home and world. And, yes, there are also a trillion books about bringing a new baby home and we have read many books above baby bumps.
Most bringing new baby home books tend to be practical stories that illustrate the shifts in routine that a new child will bring. I, on the other hand, love to think of the wonderfully wild things that children imagine in their big little minds, especially when they stand beneath their mothers' growing bellies while everyone asks over and over again the most common question asked to an expecting mother: “What are you having?” Kids are such literal creatures and their minds go to the most fascinating places. This is what I came up with when I put myself in that big little mind:
What’s in that big belly?
A new baby story for children
By Mary Anne Donovan
Do you know what’s inside mommy’s big belly?
Is it a pumpkin? A big ball of jelly?
I wonder when we meet somebody new
And they ask “What is it? You must know. Don’t you?”
I thought that there was a baby inside
Jumping on board, hitching a ride.
Or swimming and hopping like a big frog
That started its life as a small pollywog.
I look to my mom and then to her belly.
What’s in there? Could it be something smelly?
Could it be a skunk, could it be a pig?
Could it be a cow? No way, that’s too big.
Could it be an alien from outer space?
Or maybe a monster with warts on its face?
Could it be a dog, will he fetch a stick?
Will it be a magician performing a trick?
A baby gorilla, a big toad, a snake?
Or did my mom eat too much of that cake?
I think its a robot that could wash the floors.
Mom would be glad if it did all the chores.
Is it a watermelon? Is it a beach ball?
No, it cannot be. It can’t be at all.
Those things cannot grow inside a mother.
It must be a sister or perhaps a brother.
Or maybe its both. It could be a pair.
A pair of twins for us to share.
Some mommies have three, and even four.
A litter of babies could be many more.
Do they really not know what's in her tummy?
Over and over, they ask my mummy.
“Do you know what you’re having? When are you due?”
Do they really not know? Don't they have a clue?
Its not an it, but a baby! It must be.
A boy or a girl, we will just wait and see.
And you must wait too, don’t go crazy.
My mummy is pregnant, she isn’t lazy.
It could be a girl, she might have curls.
She may come out singing and dancing in twirls.
Or a boy with curls or no hair at all.
He could come out kicking a soccer ball.
Will it be cute? Will it be scary?
Will it be smooth? Will it be hairy?
Will it be quiet? Will it be loud?
Will it stand out in a big crowd?
Mama, what if this baby is loved more than me?
My darling, that cannot possibly be
For whoever this is, whoever comes out,
They will love you as much as we love you, no doubt.
Aw. Isn't that sweet? And then there is the companion story. A poem from a mother’s perspective, not intended to be read to children at all. The story that many pregnant mothers want to read, the things that they would really like to say. I loved being pregnant and am thankful to have had three mostly uncomplicated pregnancies. But it wasn’t pretty. I thought that I would look like this:
Instead, on the day before my first daughter was born, this is what I looked like.
I dropped jaws. People stared and whispered. My thighs were one big trunk with a giant burl of a belly sticking out. Everyday I answered the same questions over and over again to sweet unassuming people who barely knew me but surely knew lots about being pregnant and having babies in the twenty first century, even if their own babies were born in the roaring twenties. I answered: What are you having? When are you due? Are you sure that there is only one in there? Are you going to breastfeed? You are not having your baby at home, are you? Day in and day out. And I answered politely. And this may or may not have been what I really would have liked to say.
(For the sake of my god fearing and swear loathing father, I have chosen to eliminate the offensive f-bombs to save us all from an earth shattering quake of tut tut tuts.)
What Are You Having?
A new baby story for expecting moms
By Mary Anne Donovan
Yes, I am pregnant. Its hard not to tell
I’ve got a round belly, thick ankles as well.
And now, once again a stranger will come
She’ll open her mouth up and ask something dumb.
“What are you having, my dear?” she will ask.
If I weren’t so pregnant, I would grab a flask.
A drink I will need if she touches my bump.
Is this the pitfall of having a hump?
So, I smile politely and answer her rightly.
As she rubs my belly I grit my teeth tightly,
Imagining all of the things that I’ll say
To her, if she does not get out of my way:
Is it a he? Or a she? Or an it?
Is it a puppy dog taking a ... shhh, it
Is sleeping inside of my tummy,
You annoying old lady, don’t be a ... duh, Me?
I’m a human, so this is one too.
And no, I am certainly not carrying two.
When am I due? You say, any day now?
No, I’ve three months to go, you annoying cow.
Yes, this is coffee, espresso in fact
Come on, its just caffeine. I’m not smoking crack.
And later I will eat some soft cheese and sushi
Take your judgement elsewhere and kiss my fat tushy.
And I might just have this baby at home.
I’ll name it Quinoa or Seafoam.
Maybe I’ll breastfeed this kid till he’s five.
Or I won’t at all and he’ll still survive.
And it doesn’t matter what you think.
If its a boy, I’ll dress him in pink!
And I’ll give him a doll and he’ll be in ballet.
And I’ll teach him to knit and then to crochet.
If its a girl, I’ll dress her in blue
She’ll like frogs and spiders and talk about pooh.
And she’ll have a boy name like James or Finn
I’m sure that you'll think that is just a sin.
Nope, no wedding ring – isn’t it shocking?
We may not get hitched, but the boots will keep knocking!
We’ll have baby upon baby illegitimately
As you shake your head hypocritically.
If you don’t like that, then go you know where
With your old lady purse and your purple grey hair.
Enough with your thoughts and opinions, jeez
You’ve had your babies, leave mine alone please.
So when you see me and this belly that’s growing
Smile and say something like, "You are just glowing".
Or better still, tell me that I’m barely showing
Then nosy old lady, get the trucking hell going.