Let's not beat about the bush here. Let's not pretend that you hadn't noticed. Let's admit the fact that it is no longer possible to hide it beneath a nice, baggy jumper. Let's face it, I look about 7 months pregnant. Unfortunately for Mr. DBM and me and for my poor old Mum, who has four children, but not a single grandchild, I am not. I am also not fat, so its not a question of "Is she pregnant or has she just eaten too many doughnuts?" In fact, I have skinny little arms and legs and a bony arse - which just make the not-a-baby bump stand out even more. So, what is the problem? Am I incubating the next Alien? Sometimes, I can imagine it inside me, squirming, growing, biding its time until one day - eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, out it pops, screeching and screaming, all covered in viscous, gelatinous slime. It turns it hideous head, full of needle sharp teeth, a string of saliva lengthening from its mouth, reaching for the floor. Its nostrils dilate, and it surveys its new world. And then, it is gone, streaking and sliming across the room, screeching its goodbyes......OK, so my imagination is getting the better of me. I don't have a gaping hole in my chest, and I still look 7 months pregnant. In fact, I have looked as though I am pregnant for about two years now and that got me thinking. How long can one be pregnant? Aren't people starting to wonder why I never actually deliver a bouncing baby DBM junior? So I did a bit of research on which animal has the longest gestation time. I bet you can't guess. I certainly got it wrong - I just went for the largest animal, hypothesising that it would have the largest baby with the longest gestation time. Here are my findings:
Humans - The normal gestation period for humans is between 37 and 42 weeks (259 - 294 days). I tried to find out what the longest human pregnancy was, but had quite a bit of trouble, mostly because of a lot of hearsay and personal experience. You know the kind - "My Aunt's sister's niece's best friend's daughter, the one with the dodgy ticker who walks with a limp, since her left leg is shorter than her right, who had that dog that ate the dead squirrel - you know the one, what is her name? Well, I heard that she went for 53 weeks" The other problem is the fact that doctors generally do not let pregnancies proceed beyond 42 weeks. This is because the placenta starts to deteriorate around this time and if labour is not induced the baby is in grave danger of being still born.
My guess - the blue whale. Gestation period of 10-12 months, resulting in a calf weighing in at approximately two and a half tonnes. Now that is one humungous bouncing baby!
Longest mammalian gestation - the elephant - at 22 months, birth weight of 265lbs. Now, that really makes you think about the blue whale. In half the time, they end up with a baby that is more than 20 times the size of an elephant calf. What on earth is that whale eating? Burgers, fries and ice cream - all supersized? Is she having cravings for doughnuts soaked in lard? Maybe deep fried mars bars with clotted cream? In reality, she is eating tonnes of krill - but I have to think that they must have been eating sausages, wrapped in bacon and deep fried in batter.
Longest animal gestation - turns out that it is the Alpine salamander. They live high up in the Alps and the higher they live, the longer their gestation period, up to three years at altitudes of 1,400 to 1,700m. Can you imagine the debt those babies owe their mother? "I didn't carry you for 36 months to be spoken to like that....."
Now, there is another contender for the gestation throne - the frilled shark. This mysterious creature of the deepest, darkest ocean has kept its pregnancy well hidden from all nosey neighbours and gossiping workmates, so the truth is not out there. But, scientists in the know seem to think that the gestation period could be as long as three and a half years!
The next question that I asked myself was, naturally, what is the shortest gestation period?
And the winner is......
The opossum, with a gestation period of 12-14 days. By the time the poor opossum has worked out that she is pregnant, she has already given birth and has ten hungry mouths to feed. "Aw crap, not again"!
One more interesting gestation fact - seahorses are the only animals known where the males carry the developing young. He has a brood pouch, where the female lays her eggs, and after two to three weeks, presto, baby seahorses. Now, there may be some human males that want to gestate a baby, but without a womb, where is the foetus going to gestate - in a box? Stan / Loretta may have to be content with it being every man's right to have babies.
Back to the beginning of this post, where people mistake my not-a-baby bump with the real thing. What do you do when someone comes up to you and comments on your baby bump when you are not actually pregnant? Who is the more embarrassed? Since I am getting used to people commenting on my not-a-baby bump, I suspect they are more embarrassed - so how do I let them down gently? I have, on occasion, been able to pretend that I didn't hear their comment. That lets both of us off the hook with no red faces or awkward giggles. No profuse apologies are required and no explanations for the apparent baby bump are needed. However, there comes a time when it is not possible to discretely ignore a well meaning comment or question. When someone comes right up to you and asks when the baby is due, you can hardly just ignore them. So, you have to just have to suck it up and face the embarrassment head on. This does, of course, mean that you have to explain what the bump is and sometimes I just don't want to do that. It is a personal thing, and not something that the world and his wife and their neighbour Ethel need to know. So perhaps I should just lie and say May 30th. I will have to keep adjusting that date as my non-pregnancy continues, which might tax my lying abilities and it really is only going to work on people like Ethel, that I don't know and will hopefully never meet again. Otherwise, I am going to have to start making up birthing stories and new baby miracles.......
Still, there are some advantages to having the bump. You know those parent only or parents with child parking spots. Well, they really bug me. Do parents lose the ability to walk when they have children? Are they now on a par with disabled people who really do need to be nearer the store? OK, so I can appreciate that they might need wider spaces, so that they have room to get those all the bells and whistles push chairs out of the car. But that doesn't mean that they have to be up there with the disabled. Put the extra wide spots at the back of the carpark - the exercise will do them and their children good. That being said, I do love those spots. They are very often empty and I will pull into one. As I get out of the car, I will rub my aching back and stroke my not-a-baby bump and head for the door. What - are they going to ask me to pee in a cup?
Are you still wondering what the cause of my not-a-baby bump is? I would tell you, but this post is getting rather long, my fingers are starting to seize, and I am not sure that I am quite ready to bare my not-a-baby bump to all, not just yet.