What My Children Learned In Utero

by Shari on November 13, 2010

I first learned of the book "Origins: How The Nine Months Before Birth Shape The Rest Of Our Lives" from the  Time magazine article, which was published this past September. (And I heard about the Time piece from Erica Jong's rant article in the Wall Street Journal on November 6. I think Erica needs a hobby. A peaceful one, like bedazzling.) I was intrigued. I finally got a chance to read the Time magazine piece tonight and found tidbits like this: 

Much of what a pregnant woman encounters in her daily life — the air she breathes, the food and drink she consumes, the chemicals she's exposed to, even the emotions she feels — is shared in some fashion with her fetus. The fetus incorporates these offerings into its own body, makes them part of its flesh and blood.

Often it does something more: it treats these maternal contributions as information, biological postcards from the world outside. What a fetus is absorbing in utero is not Mozart's Magic Flute but the answers to questions much more critical to its survival: Will it be born into a world of abundance or scarcity? Will it be safe and protected, or will it face constant dangers and threats? Will it live a long, fruitful life or a short, harried one?

So I started thinking about what sort of biological postcards I mailed to my kids as they floated in their happy-sac. What did I tell them about the outside world by what I breathed, ate, drank and felt?

1. There are two food groups in the outside world–jalapeno peppers and anti-nausea lollipops.
(Now you know my diet during pregnancy.)

2.  The music of the spheres sounds a lot like Celine Dion.
(My husband is a huge fan of that French-Canadian poptart. Despite my tearful pleas for mercy, we were an all-Celine home for a good part of my pregnancy, forever dooming my children's future musical tastes.)

3.  In the outside world, it is completely normal to pee your bed.
(Any pregnant woman who says this never happened to her is lying.)

4. People in the outside world lay around all day watching re-runs of "Columbo".
(What? I was on bedrest.)

5. The atmosphere in the outside world is made up of oxygen, Toyota exhaust, pug fur, and hair dye fumes.
(I live just outside of New York City, the parking is limited, I like flat-faced animals, I'm not a real redhead.)

The Best Pet Reviews gathered experts across all areas of dog care: veterinarians, animal behaviorists, dog trainers, researchers, and authors.

6. In the outside world, Mommies and Daddies have conversations like this: "Please?! It's been three months!" "Are you crazy? I get on my back, I may never get up again!"
7. People in the outside world cry at least seven times a day. Especially while watching "Columbo".
(Just the sight of that raincoat and cigar would put me over the edge.) 

8. In the outside world, you must never, ever tell people that you eat soft cheese and sushi or they will report you to something called La Leche League and they will arrest you.
(My apologies to the breastfeeding community–I was a wee bit paranoid during pregnancy)

9. In the outside world, people drink coffee and red wine and then burst into tears and say "I just damaged my baby's brain!"
 (Uh… yeah.)

10. People in the outside world may make some mistakes about what they eat, drink, breathe or feel, but they're usually still pretty happy that we're here.
(I send my love to all pregnant, pre-pregnant, post-pregnant, and adoptive mothers everywhere.)



{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie November 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm

LOL! Great stuff. You’ve chronicled the pregnancy neurosis well. At least mine, anyway. It’s the cups of coffee I drank everyday, isn’t it? Is that why my 5 year old never sits still and is constantly asking me the same three questions all at once all the time? Ahhh…


dusty earth mother November 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

yes. its all your fault. its all all our fault. every bit. :-)


Ami November 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

::thinking hard::
My first child learned in utero:
The four basic food groups are nacho cheese doritos, pepsi, m&m’s and Jack in the Box taco salad with chili in the middle.
And that while not okay to be in your bed, perfectly acceptable to have some,er, dribble out while rushing to the bathroom.
Second child learned:
How to be a smartass.
Not to put up with any crap.
Crazy runs in families.


Ami November 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

DAMMIT… I meant ‘not okay to PEE in your bed’


dusty earth mother November 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm



Jenners November 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

My baby learned a love for chocolate, how to find a bathroom along my route to work, the ability to get out of almost any housework by playing the pregnancy card. He’s ready for the world.


dusty earth mother November 13, 2010 at 5:15 pm

If only he could play the pregnancy card. Then hed be set.


Triplezmom November 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I was not on bedrest, but I still spent most of my first pregnancy watching Law and Order. Something about the predictable crime drama must soothe the hormones. Anyway, I LOVE your list.


Lady Jennie November 14, 2010 at 12:42 am

Yup … sushi, soft cheese, lots of coffee, lots of McDonalds … no red wine though.
But I only felt slightly paranoid and guilty about the soft cheese and sushi.
This was funny.


dusty earth mother November 14, 2010 at 5:06 am

Thank you, Triplezmom! And now I must check out your site, to see if Triplezmom means what I think it does :-)


mep November 14, 2010 at 5:16 am

First Pregnancy Fetus Lessons: BLTs are good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the only two shows on television are Degrassi Next Generation and Footballers Wives, writing a dissertation sucks, and bladder control is not all it’s cracked up to be, you can eat for four when you’re supposedly eating for two.


dusty earth mother November 14, 2010 at 5:21 am

Those are good ones, Mep. I’m still chuckling over the DeGrassi one.


Flawless Mom November 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Okay, I never peed the bed but I did pee my pants every single time I sneezed, coughed or laughed. And now it’s only when I jump.
I had three sips of wine when I was three months preggers and didn’t sleep for two days worrying about it. Didn’t have another freaking sip for almost a year.
Survived on Subway and brie for two months until someone told me you’re not supposed to eat soft cheese or cured meats. Shit.
I was obsessed with a show called Clean House. Watched it every day for 4 months while I was nauseated on the couch. Ended up ON the damn show after I had my kid. Ergo, you may end up on Columbo. ;)


dusty earth mother November 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm

oooh, I hope I end up on Columbo, Lisa. And yes, I did Subway, too. For some reason, it didnt make me sick. I wonder if that should be their new ad campaign? We dont make pregnant women nauseous!


the mama bird diaries November 15, 2010 at 7:01 am

I ate lots and lots of sushi when I was pregnant but never once peed in my bed. True story.


dusty earth mother November 15, 2010 at 8:24 am

I would expect no less from you, Kelcey. You are a delicate blossom, after all.


Marinka November 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I have never peed in my bed! Please respect my pelvic floor and iron clad bladder. Thank you.


dusty earth mother November 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I apologize for offending your pelvic/bladder pride. Please forgive.


Holly November 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm

You are too funny and I applaud your wonderful top ten.
You would think that my kids would turn out to be sushi fanatics. It’s all I thought about during pregnancy! They can’t stand the sight of it, go figure.
Oh, and I really never peed in bed when I was pregnant – but I did pee when I fell out of bed with my first born at around 36 weeks!


dusty earth mother November 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm

You fell out of bed when you were 36 weeks pregnant and it made you pee?? I always knew I loved you, Holly.


Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip November 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Yep, no matter how many vagina exercises I did, I couldn’t help but pee myself regularly. And kudos to your pregnancy diet of jalapeno peppers and anti nausea pops. Sounds preferable to my obsession with McDonald’s chicken nuggets with a side of jarred cheese. What? Yes, I know Mickey D’s doesn’t sell jarred cheese. I keep it in my purse.


dusty earth mother November 16, 2010 at 4:39 am

Okay, Naomi. The jarred cheese made me laugh out loud.


Alexandra November 16, 2010 at 5:38 am

Oh, you were on bedrest, too? I guess that’s why we’re supposed to have our kids before we’re perimenopausal,huh?
Hard times, weren’t they?
I thought I’d never forget about them, but, thank GOD, I did.
Hard times.


Carrie November 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

I have had three kids and at this very moment I can not remember much of anything from pregnancy. Except that I threw up alot. Ha! My kids make me sick! I’m going to go share this funny thought with them!
Btw, you come up with the best post ideas!


dusty earth mother November 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

My utero thanks you for that compliment, Carrie.


Lizgizzy November 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Exellent list!
I tried to teach my child that grilled American cheese sandwiches are the bomb by eating them every single day during the first and second trimesters. That and/or pizza. He must have overdosed because he cares for neither.


dusty earth mother November 16, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Hey girl! I have a funny relationship with grilled cheese. I never ate them in my whole childhood-to-young-adulthood life. Ever. Never wanted to. Then one time I fasted for ten days (long story) and the entire time all I could  think about was grilled cheese with tomato. Now its one of my favorite things ever. Go figure.


katbron November 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Chortling – that is great! I got stuck in a booth at Taco Johns when I was 9 months pregnant – had to have that taco fix. Sad thing was my two-year-old was sitting on the inside and was stuck too:)


dusty earth mother November 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Taco Johns!! I lived on Taco Johns when I was in college, havent heard that name for years. Ah, memories… and the idea of you getting stuck in one really makes me happy :-)


amber November 18, 2010 at 7:18 am

I think it sounds like your spawn are well prepared for the outside world. I was too afraid to eat sushi, despite craving it for the whole 9 months. And Grey’s Anatomy is the show that reduced me to a puddle. To this day, I can’t watch it.


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