My sister Ruthie is pregnant. She told me by calling me in August five times in a row while I was on a conference call. When I frantically called her back while mentally listing all the people could could possibly be in a hospital on life-support, she answered the phone by saying, “Good news, no one is dead. Better news, I’m pregnant.”
At 22, pregnancy was thrust on Ruthie a little earlier than she planned. But she and her boyfriend are throwing themselves into this new journey like any responsible couple, with a lot of love, Googling and YouTube videos.
Ruthie is eight years younger than me and I remember changing her diapers, which were often full of partially digested crayons. She was the only three-year-old I’ve met who knew how to use the word “reprobate” appropriately and she used to love to run around with a bucket and a spoon yelling, “SOUP TREMAIN! WHO WANTS SOUP TREMAIN?” We still don’t know what that means. To say that I am excited to see the human she creates is just putting it mildly. This child is either going to be the Uni-bomber or a Nobel laureate. Probably both. I called her after her first doctor’s appointment, and I asked her if she had any cravings.
“No, not really,” she said. “But I did want a hamburger the other night and Mike said he’d take me to get one. But as we were driving Mike decided a hamburger might not be good for the baby. So he suggested something healthier. Can you believe that?”
“That sucks.” I said. I’m staunchly pro-hamburger.
“‘How can we have a child and trust each other if I can’t trust him to get me a hamburger? I mean, where is the trust?”
“Did you say that to him?”
“Yes, I did. I meant it.”
“Whatever, I got my meat.”
That’s my sister. And I love her.
This Thanksgiving I got to meet Mike and hamburger-denying aside, he is the perfect match for Ruthie. They quote “Dr. Who” and Monty Python together and have giddy plans to build a self-sustaining Tilapia farm and grow mushrooms and raise and sell crickets. Mike showed us some YouTube videos of other self-sustaining Tilapia farms that he is going to model his after. He also showed us a TEDx talk about how mushrooms are sentient and could save the world if given enough cardboard and love.
Since I’ve never met a cricket breeder before, I had a lot of questions. Like, “How do you ship crickets?” And “How do you make your crickets like the health food of crickets? Can you make your crickets high-end like caviar?” Mike patiently answered all my questions with an appropriate internet article or YouTube video. Right when the last video ended, and Dave’s eyes were a little glazed over from trying to process how smart mushrooms are, Ruthie turned to me.
“Mike wants me to poop on the baby.”
Dave stood. “I need to go to bed.”
Mike began typing on his phone.
I said. “Mike, no! I don’t want to see a YouTube video.”
“I am pulling up an article.” He cleared his throat and began to read an from a website that delicately explained how poop carries bacteria, which if allowed to enter the child’s system would help him grow the defenses necessary to acclimate to life outside of the womb.
“But,” Mike said. “It’s not like I want her to actively defecate on the child. It’s just that she’ll probably poop while in labor, and that bacteria will be passed on to the kid.”
“Do you see what I’m dealing with?” Ruthie said. “At least I can have all the drugs.”
“Um, Mike…” I started.
He looked up at me, his eyes illuminated by his smartphone. Ruthie sat next to him, her face an expression of exasperation, love and defeat.
“You know what?” I said. “Never mind. Poop on that baby.” And I was kind of kidding. But not really. They seemed so happy and so excited. Growing life from cardboard and bacteria, redeeming ugly into something sustainable. Little cells becoming life. All babies should be so lucky to have parents that can see the beauty in poop. So, what’s a little mom on baby defecation here and there?