The horrors of motherhood
Hurry home sweetheart
Jewel’s text piqued my curiosity, we rarely had anything scheduled on a Thursday night. I wasn’t planning to work late but couldn’t resist asking for an explanation.
Something wonderful to show you!
The exclamation point was followed by a string of heart and rainbow emojis. Someone was clearly in a good mood.
OK, see you soon
We’d been married long enough for the honeymoon passion to cool, but Jewel could still make my motor race. I decided to leave work early in the hope that it was that kind of good mood.
I came through the door to find Jewel practically buzzing with excitement. She had a big, beaming smile and she was holding something behind her back.
“Hi, honey, what’s the big news?”
“Oh Don, just look!” She exclaimed and held out the stick from a pregnancy test kit. Two lines stood out clearly.
“But, how? I thought the doctor said we couldn’t . . .“
“I know, but it’s true, it must be. I missed my period last month and this is the second test and, oh Don, isn’t it wonderful!”
I grabbed Jewel and hugged her tight. The unexpected news left me almost speechless, but I managed a heartfelt “I love you so much” as we clung to each other joyously. The thought of Jewel being pregnant soon caused another emotion to rise.
“This may seem redundant, but I am so turned on right now. Is that crazy?” I asked hopefully. “Is it safe to do it while you’re expecting?”
“Of course, silly. We can do it right up to the end if we’re careful about the positions we use.”
“Then let’s have a special celebration in the bedroom.”
“Aren’t you supposed to gain weight during pregnancy?”
Jewel was actually thinner at ten weeks, and it worried me.
“It’s not unusual sweetheart, I’m sure I’ll be big and fat soon enough. And don’t worry, I can feel the baby moving. Here, feel for yourself.”
I placed my hand on Jewel’s stomach and felt the squirming movement. It seemed early for the baby to kick, but maybe she’d miscalculated the conception. Except that would mean she ought to be showing more? As a clueless male, I let myself be persuaded that everything was okay.
A couple of weeks later, I was sure that something must be wrong. Jewel hadn’t suffered from morning sickness, but she looked gaunt and there wasn’t any pregnancy bump. She refused to see the doctor and spent hours in the rocking chair we’d bought for the nursery. I tried to rouse her, but she just gazed into the middle distance with a fixed look of placid contentment. The end came with shocking swiftness.
“Jewel, you have to get up, you have to eat, let me take you to the doctor."
“No, no doctors. Just let me finish this. I have to be a good mother, Don. The baby needs nourishment.”
“I don’t think there is a baby, Jewel. There’s something wrong. You’re not yourself, let me take you to the emergency room.”
Jewel didn’t seem to hear me. I reached out but recoiled in horror as a bright green wasp wriggled out of Jewel’s left nostril. It flexed gossamer wings for a few seconds and then flew away.
“Oh Don, isn’t it beautiful?” Jewel murmured blissfully.
She coughed weakly and several wasps tumbled from her mouth. A steady stream of buzzing insects were crawling from her nose and I realized that Jewel wasn’t breathing. I felt a twinge of nausea as dozens more emerged from her slack mouth. I shrank from the thought of trying to administer CPR in the midst of the swarming wasps. The buzzing noise grew louder and louder, making me dizzy with fear. A sudden sting broke my nerve, and I fled the room to the sound of screaming, only later realizing it was me.
I’d been stung several times, so I hid in the den until the horrific buzzing died away. Guilt and shame eventually brought me back to the scene. Jewel’s body was shrunken, just an empty husk. The wasps had all gone. I knew that there was nothing I could have done, but I still felt like a coward. And how could I have missed the obvious signs? Why didn’t I insist on going to the doctor? I hesitated to call the police; how could I explain what happened? I didn’t even know myself.
A google search turned up several species of wasps that use other insects as hosts for their larvae. Some of them even turn the host into a sort of zombie, forcing it to care for the wasp’s offspring. But that sort of thing can’t happen to humans. At least, not until it does.
I never did call the police. I didn’t go back to work either. It just didn’t seem important with Jewel gone. Her body felt dry and almost weightless when I wrapped it in her favorite comforter. I laid her out on our bed and sobbed gently as I said a final goodbye. All the light had gone from my world and I didn’t have the energy to do anything more.
I knew my listlessness was partially due to shock, but the twisting sensation in my gut was more than just grief. A dark suspicion formed in my mind, and I roused myself enough to find an unused pregnancy test. A few weeks earlier it would have seemed crazy for me to pee on the stick, but I had to know for sure. Two lines showed when I held it up to the light.
My first instinct was to run screaming into the street, but the panic subsided as a wave of maternal bliss washed over me. I sat back in the rocker and gazed into the middle distance. I need to take it easy now and nourish the babies. I'm going to be a mother soon!
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