Human Beans

Meredith asks

Any thoughts on how you’ll refer to futurekid in utero? A lot of people go with “bean” I’ve noticed…anyway, you have time to play with different terms of endearment.

When I was pregnant with Cricket, we called him the bean for the first trimester and the mouse thereafter—that’s why I now have a mouse tattoo. In that first ultrasound, his skull looked very like a mouse’s to me. (Confidentially, Ruth and Nora seemed pretty weirded out by the “mouse” nickname.) That first ultrasound seemed cuter to me than the one I got at twenty-some weeks; in that second one, he kind of looked like a monster. I’ve heard people say that they can see family resemblances when they look at an ultrasound, but I guess I just don’t have the eye for it. I still have one of those ultrasound pictures, and I just confirmed it; he still looks like a monster with a horrible melting nose. Well, it all worked out in the end!

I imagine we’ll follow a similar naming convention this time around: the bean for awhile, and then an animal nickname. I’m currently leaning toward “possum,” but hopefully I’ll be able to see the passenger before making a final call. And then, a year or so later, I’ll be getting another tattoo. We are also pretending that we’ll name the kid Nathan Bedford Forrest, girl or boy, but we are not honestly planning to name a futurekid after the founder of the KKK. My mom does hate the names on our list, though.

During the first pregnancy it seemed really politically important for me to not refer to the fetus as a baby—I think some of this was worry about sounding anti-choice. I am one of those women who always assumed that I’d have an abortion if it came up, and then it came up, and . . . I couldn’t. I was and remain extremely pro-choice, so I tried to signal this by not calling the fetus a baby—except when I forgot. Funnily enough, Ruth and Nora—who are also pro-choice liberal types—just wanted to call him the baby, and thought I was being kind of strange. It’s a fair cop.

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3 thoughts on “Human Beans

  1. Awesome!! I love the idea of getting started with the bean and then once you get acquainted and see what moves you during your second trimester. Possum would be so cute! It makes me think of tree houses and playing on the monkey bars as a kid. It would also complement your mouse tattoo for Cricket.

    It’s so interesting to consider word choices in this realm where people infer our positions on abortion rights from our terminology. It reminds me of the universal he in a way and how I felt the first time a prof. mentioned “the judge in her chambers.”

  2. with my first child, I was positive i was having kittens. although i never called him kitty or anything like that. tiggy.

    context, intent, those things matter. i was surprised — although i should not have been — that fetus was harder to hold to when toddler son pointed to belly & needed this to be baby in tummy (well, uterus, & indeed, while tummy reigned as the main body part mentioned, i sure said uterus a lot too!). that nickname was lulu. lulu’s a wonderful thing (definition) & he became lucien. nickname, even now, even with his friends in school, lulu.

    for me, the other common phrase i find offensive is ‘we’re pregnant.’ for the obvious reason that ‘we’re’ not nauseated or in labor. or free to walk away, for that matter.

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