Published on September 6th, 2013 | by Katherine Clover1
KATHERINE DM CLOVER On An Early Hysterical Pregnancy
I can remember pretty vividly the first time I thought “Oh hey, it would be pretty awesome to have a baby like, ASAP.” I was nine-and-a-half years old.
There are a few things you really need to understand about me as a child to get this. The first is I was a pretty weird kid. I made a fairly detailed plan to break into heaven and kick god and his buddy Jesus out when I was four. I earnestly believed that I could fly, and that it was only the fear of falling that stopped me from soaring into the sky (mind over matter, man!). At ten I started a fairly successful recess playground cult, which pretty much hinged on the other girls in my class worshiping me (my holiness was most concentrated in my arms, and so they would follow me around in a tight group preventing others from touching my arms, and I would talk about building chariots).
The other thing is that from the age of eight until I became disillusioned around fourteen-ish, I was deeply, almost creepily, religious. This, in a family of agnostics. My religiousness was primarily Christian in nature (I wasn’t exposed to much religion at all, and I wasn’t exposed to any religion besides Christianity until I chose to seek it out on my own) and was bound up with a variety of superstitions. I believed in all sorts of things, and I was intense in all of the things that I believed.
What happened was this: first, I decided that I wanted to have a baby. Then I decided that that thought/ urge/notion was probably important – likely divinely inspired! And then I prayed. I got on my knees in my little bedroom, and I prayed to GOD that he would cause me, at nine-and-a-half, to become miraculously pregnant. My exact words, at nine-and-a-half, were “you know… without having to, uh… do anything.” I figured he’d worked it out with Mary pretty well, and it didn’t really matter that I hadn’t reached puberty yet, because “all things are possible through the lord” and what not. I prayed as hard as I could. Have I mentioned that I was nine-and-a-half? Do I need to say “nine-and- a-half” a few more times?. After praying, and then resting, because all that praying was exhausting, I started to wonder how in the world I would even know if it had worked. I had no idea what pregnant felt like, and I didn’t have a period to miss, so I figured I’d have to wait until I started getting fat and nauseous or something. When would that even happen? What if I was getting morning sickness already? I was pretty anxious about that.
But glory be to god, I did not actually have to wait, because I had a way to find out right then! I had a thing that was magic – a troll doll that was basically a magic eight ball. You asked it questions and it’s belly lit up, or it made some kind of sound for yes and some other sound for no. I spent a lot of time googling to find this troll, and while I am able to confirm that it did in fact exist, sadly I do not know what it was called and there are none available on ebay. So, at nine-and-a-half, I firmly grasped my magic answer troll doll (it had pink hair!) and asked it, “Am I pregnant?”
I can remember the smell of the plastic. I was holding it really close to my face.
It definitely said “yes”. And I remember that I then got suspicious of this troll doll, and asked it a few more times, and it said “yes” more than it said “no”. By the end of it, I was shaking pretty hard.
Suddenly, all the repercussions of being knocked-up at nine-and-a-half started to hit to me. I remembered that in the bible Mary went through some shit because some people didn’t believe that she had gotten pregnant without “having to uh… do anything” because – surprise – that seemed impossible to people of lesser faith. It then occurred to me that my allowance was pretty damn small, and it was maybe unfair to ask my parents to support my child, as they had children of their own and I was one of them.
What followed was a week of total panic and fear. At the grocery store with my mom, I tried to sneak a peek at the diapers to figure out how much they cost, and half-heartedly attempted to figure out how much allowance I could save up in nine months. Nine months suddenly felt extremely short. It occurred to me that I might have to redo fifth grade, which would be really extremely embarrassing. I remember wondering why in the hell god let me get away with this totally not well thought out idea. Was that guy an idiot or something?
After about a week I broke down and talked to my mom about it. I was terrified of her finding out, but I figured her likelihood of believing me would only decrease the longer I kept it from her. I knew I would start ‘showing’ eventually! So I told her. I remember gulping and not being able to speak, possibly for the first time in my life. I remember her saying “Whatever it is, just tell me, Katherine!” And I remember her laughing.
My mom assured me that I was definitely not pregnant, and that praying was not how people got pregnant, and that even if it was, arguably, an option, I was (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet) nine-and-a-half years old and it was just physically impossible. I remember her informing me that you can’t get pregnant without, uh, doing something with a boy. I was embarrassed. I begged her not to tell my dad. Then I tried to forget the whole thing. I obviously failed at that last bit.
I think about this utterly ridiculous story, as I consider my path to queer parenthood. There is an interesting parallel between nine-and-a-half year old me thinking “you know what, boys are gross, but I want to be a mommy” and grown-up-me looking into various sperm-donor options. I can’t help but think that this religious, platonic ideal of parenthood is something that I have somehow secretly carried with me throughout the years. The idea that I would do it on my own. The idea that I would hold my head high in the face of ridicule, coupled with knowing the shit storm there is going to be when my conservative relatives finds out. For a queer lady attempting to start a family (besides cats!) the options definitely feel less than ideal.
As far as I can tell, I can:
*ask around and try to get one of my guy friends to knock me up * pretend to be straight and have dangerous unprotected sex with men * make a legal arrangement with a stranger who will then jack off in my bathroom * pay a really exorbitant amount of money to purchase sperm through a sperm bank (this process also includes involving some kind of health care professional pretty early on, as the sperm banks will not release genetic material unless I prove that I am under medical care).
I tell you what, if immaculate conception was a for-real option, I might look into it.