Note: For this week, we’re dusting off an old draft that’s been chilling unfinished in the drafts folder since back in the dark ages of my second trimester. I’m leaving it all in present tense, so if you’re like “hey is she pregnant again?!?!” the answer is a hearty “nope!” I am, however, still creeped out by marsupials.
It is common for people to feel, during pregnancy, more connected to other people who have been pregnant in the past, especially one’s own mother. The trajectory goes something like “wow, I can’t believe my mom did this for me… and my grandmothers… and my great-grandmothers… and… holy gestation batman! Actually a lot of people have done this really hard thing! Heroes, they’re all of them heroes.”
I’ve definitely had this feeling more than once during the last joy filled 24 weeks. Particularly since my own mother had difficult pregnancies, and I am also having a difficult pregnancy, I’ve been feeling a lot of solidarity with her. But for me, it goes beyond family members and other humans, and I find myself also identifying with a wide range of birth giving mammals.
This probably makes a lot of sense, given my personal history and general outlook on life. Once upon a time, after reading up on feral cats I got involved in TNR because I couldn’t help but look at young female cats having up to three litters of kittens a year, and think “oh, this is a feminist issue.” Mammals have a lot in common with each other. And for the vast majority of female mammals, pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, these things are just part of life. Sometimes they are a very difficult part of life.
Which brings me to a slightly comical side affect of all this togetherness and connectedness. Because while I watch the pregnant squirrels eating cat food on our back porch and think “girl, it is rough, I get you,” there’s another class of mammals that I’m suddenly finding extremely unsettling to even think about.
Marsupials. I’m creeped out by marsupials. I mean what is their deal, anyways?
It’s in or out, baby!
Pretty much everybody knows that the thing about marsupials is they have a pouch. Well, the female ones do, anyways, and it is a pouch for babies. The babies get to ride around in the pouch, which is oh-so-cute if you happen to be a cartoon kangaroo. I learned from watching David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals that marsupials are some of the first mammals, and also utterly disgusting and creepy. I re-watched the kangaroo birth scene to write this point, and I have some very serious feelings about it and all of them amount to “NOPE.”
Here, now you can be grossed out too:
Here are my feelings, as a female bodied mammal person:
1. ONCE THE BABY COMES OUT IT DOES NOT GO BACK IN WE ARE DONE HERE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
2. The part where the mom is just sort of vaguely watching it climb up her? No. That is absolutely terrifying to me in a way that I cannot describe. Like maybe I want her to be helping and not just watching, but also I cannot blame her because that thing looks gross and I don’t want to touch it either.
3. It latches on to the nipple and then IT DOES NOT UNLATCH YOU GUYS. A fun thing about being a breastfeeding human is not doing it (quite) 24/7.
And it’s not only kangaroos everyone, it’s all of them. Maybe you think the whole pouch thing is sort of cute, but we aren’t talking about a snuggly sleeping bag here. We are talking about a skin pouch on the mother’s body forcing her to have even less bodily autonomy than the average birthing mammal. And now that I’ve identified with the mother kangaroo, I can’t look back. The pouch is a cruel trick of evolution and I am glad that our branch of mammals chose to do away with it entirely in favor of the placenta.
Ok, here is a picture of a cat, another mammal that has the decency not to have a pouch.