I just finished the first season of “Being Human”, a terrific BBC supernatural drama about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf who live together in a flat. It sounds a little silly, and I’m not sure how those pitch meetings went, but the show really works. It’s funny and heartbreaking all at once with a delightful bit of gore thrown in. I knew I was sold when an episode opened with a voice over about the process of changing into a werewolf, and the excruciating physical toll it takes on afflicted.
“He should be dead within 30 seconds. The werewolf heart is about two-thirds the size of a human’s. But in order to shrink, first it has to stop. In other words, he has a heart attack. All of the internal organs are smaller, so while he’s having his heart attack, he’s having liver and kidney failure too. If he stops screaming it’s not because the pain has dulled, his throat, gullet and vocal chords are tearing and reforming. He literally can’t make a sound. By now the pituitary gland should be working overtime, flooding his body with endorphins to ease some of the pain, but that too has shut down. Anyone else would have died of shock long ago. But it won’t kill him and that’s the thing I find most remarkable. It drags him through the fire and keeps him alive and even conscious to endure every second…An impossible lethal curse spread by tooth and claw, victim begets victim begets victim. It’s so cruel, it’s…perfect.”
It probably seems like pregnant ladies think that every situation applies to them and maybe that’s true. But I do think, at least for me, that the werewolf metaphor quite perfectly parallels pregnancy and childbirth. I haven’t gone through childbirth yet, but I’ve talked to people and seen some videos. It really seems like something that should kill you. It doesn’t. It tears you apart temporarily and then you are fine. During pregnancy, the growing fetus pushes all of your other organs out of the way to make room for itself. Last week in birth class, our teacher showed us illustrations at various intervals of gestation. By the final month, you can hardly see the intestines, as they are smashed up against the stomach. It’s a wonder you poop at all in the third trimester. But that’s not where the similarities end.
*WE CAN SMELL OUR OWN. OK, so maybe it’s obvious to everybody when someone is knocked up. But get a couple of pregnant ladies together and let the bitch-fest begin. They are so relieved to be able to talk about what’s happening to them with someone who really understands.
*YOU REALLY CAN’T UNDERSTAND UNLESS YOU ARE ONE. Sure, there are things that everybody knows about being pregnant. We have weird cravings, we’re moody and only a silver bullet can kill us. But there are also things that happen to us that people don’t talk about. Gross things. Bloody, awful, ugly things. We don’t talk about it because if we did, no one would ever let themselves be turned.
*THERE’S AN ANIMAL INSIDE ME. And that animal is hormones. It’s like the worst PMS I’ve ever experienced but it’s not going to go away in a couple of days. One second, I’m fine, and the next I’m crying because Tim Gunn said something supportive to a contestant on Project Runway or I’ve got a DVD due back and I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Or maybe my husband said the wrong thing or did something I perceived as inconsiderate and I freak out because this is the man I chose to father my child and how will he be good a father if he can’t even find me green tea ice cream at the grocery store. The worst part is that I KNOW I’m being awful and unreasonable but I can’t do a damned thing about it. The monster is in control, not me.
*I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER MY OWN BODY. At least werewolves only have to deal with this shit once a month. For the bun-bakers, it’s every day for what seems like FOREVER. I can stick to my work out regimen or even ramp it up (I’ve been doing the latter. It’s the only way I can let off steam.) but I’ll still feel like I’ve never been more out of shape. That’s because all the blood in my body is being re-routed to my uterus. The result is that even though I’m used to physical activity, just carrying a bag of groceries into the house can put me out of breath. My joints are loosening to prepare for childbirth, so there’s a lot of cracking and popping going on. I’ve lost interest in some of my favorite foods. Others make me physically ill. I’ve become fixated on cereal. It’s the only thing I get excited about anymore. I have weird, disturbing dreams. I’ve started cleaning obsessively. I forget things that never would have slipped my mind before. I don’t even know myself anymore.
*I HAVE AN INSATIABLE HUNGER. I need to eat. A lot. Constantly. And if I don’t get to eat, for whatever reason, the beasty gets angry. God help anyone who gets in the way of me and my mid-afternoon snack.
I don’t know who has it easier. Us or the werewolves. But these days, I definitely feel a kinship to those furry bastards.