My friend touched on a fear of mine: that having a baby would be like hosting an alien creature in my body. A fear no doubt inspired by my consumption of science fiction. Science fiction often depicts childbirth as brutal, bloody, and terrifying and pregnancy as something violent that happens to someone, not, as it often is, a choice made in love. While the mystical pregnancy trope is a more common feature of science fiction, the association of pregnancy with submission and violence is present in English literature curriculum at large. The death of the mother in childbirth is so common in literature, it is almost taken for granted, often mentioned as nothing more than a side-note.
I crawled, or climbed, or inched my way into pregnancy. It did not thrash or tumble, it was not squished or covered in goo, it was not fish-like or primate-like or alien-like.
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The sole survivor is a woman called Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, who is tall, striking and very capable. Alien has some mixed als to send about women. The fetus always floated very calmly in space. My body would know what to do. I did not recognize this as cuteness. The alien is near; it is so near, it has already been where you are.
I did not feel more female. It all happens very quickly. Nor are the women particularly feminine. Other times, there were short, soft knocks. They do not linger on the analogy. She is hiccuping. The person looks down in horror, but also with a kind of ignorance that makes you hit your forehead with your hand. It appeared my fetus was a fruit, and the only gestures it would make were neotenous ones.
When I was younger, and had the luxury of ambivalence about whether I would have child or not, my go-to analogy for pregnancy and birth was Alien. It was not that I was scared of her or birth, but she was definitely other, and that was no small thing. This is what thirty-two does.
It scuttles with terrifying speed and when turned over, looks like nothing more so than a vagina, with fluttering folds of whitish pinkish flesh and a touch of grey.
Sometimes she moved in two different directions, stretching her legs and arms or head, arching her back—and everything on the surface twisted, like a cloth is being wrung out, or a wave deep in the ocean, far from shore. I did not realize you could be this upbeat and organized about pregnancy until the internet taught me. Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you, At incredible speed, traveling day and night, Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
The illustrations of fetuses I saw were inevitably done in soft shades of pink. They pose side-on, excited and alarmed, in front of chalkboards and poster paper that list fun facts. But will he know where to find you, Recognize you when he sees you, Give you the thing he has for you?
A collection of freaky alien pregnancies (and births)
Even when she is struck still by the horror of the alien, she keeps on strategizing. Her heartbeat was eerily regular at my weekly appointments at the hospital, and the nurse regularly had to poke my stomach to get her to move. I felt mortal.
She is learning how to suck, to latch, to breathe. My stomach would look visibly lopsided when she settled to the right or the left. She moved as people do in bed, sleeping, strangely intent on a world even further in, inside of her. In film in general, mucus is treated as a metonym for grossness.
She was in her own time zone. First red swells on his shirt, then there is a tearing of fabric. It did not remind me of anything other than a baby: cleaned and camera ready. There is more than one kind of alienation at work here. I knew I was wrong: society told me so.
They contain all the tumescence the film needs. Then I actually fell pregnant. I kept on waiting for the cat-mother-gut-wisdom that so many women talked about to show up. It never really did.
The alien that hatches the Chestbuster grows inside the human host after introduction via the esophagus by the Facehugger: a skeletal flesh-colored hand-cum-horseshoe-crab, with a long, whipping tail. They are generally white, and often dressed in yoga gear. It would appear they feel guilty for doing so. Most people, when they remember the film Alienremember the dinner scene. I went to work, meet friends, watched films, and waited for her to hatch. But this vagina is not a soft, delicate flower. She has fingerprints. She was going to change the civilization of my life, but this was all in the future.
She was in hyperspace. Yet as she grew, I also grew less sure. Even if the scene mimics a birth, this baby is a prick in more ways than one. This is the equivalent of hesitating at the top of the basement stairs in other horror films.
She was looking at her own big bang, and I was on the outskirts of her universe, moving further and further away. It is a tough monster looking to rape you by mouth. It is both liquid and solid, a transitive property in the flesh.
In each Alien film, there is always a moment when an unsuspecting human steps on a bit of alien goo, and, as they slowly lift their feet or hands away, the camera lingers on the slow stretch of mucus, the way it glistens in the light. And it might choose to turn around. The actors scream, stepping back; blood spattering their faces and the room. Here is a creature that is not you, inside of you, growing. Penetration is an alien thing; the fully mature grown creatures contain a head of teeth within a head of larger teeth, which, extending at the moment of imminent death, are both dick and dentata.
Her dash for the ship at the end is panic-stricken, but also calculated. She is as big as a blueberry, cherry, apricot, melon. The men are obviously both fascinated and grossed out. The proof? When she was about twenty-four or twenty-five weeks old, I started to see her movements beneath my skin. Despite the belly, pregnancy was, on some level, an abstraction. Its birth is a death—at least for the way you lived before. This baby was a long-awaited stranger, a relative I had never met.
The innards glisten like oysters. This is what sixteen weeks looks like on another body. Giving birth was supposed to be magical. It was natural. Falling is not the right verb for it.
I drank cold water and listened to the amplified thwack of her heart in the room, the jostling noises as she turned left or right. She is learning to swallow, to open her eyes, to clench and unclench her fingers. And because I live in the United States and it isI googled every step of the way. And though there are a few women who have described their fetus as an alien in prose, they do so in passing.
The online celebration of the mystery of life is very amiable.
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He was interested in an ecstatic agony I found embarrassing. When it was filmed, the director Ridley Scott refused to tell the actors exactly what was going to happen; they knew that the character of Kane, played by John Hurt, had been impregnated by an alien, and that an alien would explode from his chest when, choking, he was laid out on the table—but they did not know it would happen with exploding bags of blood. Their employer also considers them utterly expendable.