Having a son is like a non-stop newsfeed dedicated to the miracles of the colon.
When my son returns from school in the afternoon, he greets me with his customary, "I have to poop!"
Thank you, my blessed son, I think. Thank you.
Needless to say, the general reaction to his rambling and incessant newsfeed is typically, "EW!" from either me or his beloved elder sister.
Pulling his pants down and waddling to the bathroom after the latest breaking news, he felt compelled to defend his constant statements. "Everybody poops!" followed by "we all poop! We all poop out babies, too!"
At this point I found that there may have been a gapingly large hole in my dear seven year-old's reproductive education. Did I really fail to point out that baby birthing was women's work? Face askewed, I stared at the bathroom door, only slightly ajar (an improvement we've been working on as of late). "Hate to break it to you, sport, but only girls can make babies."
Whew, I thought. "Sexual organ and reproduction" talk over. Wrong.
A completely defeated "Whaaaa?" seeped from the bathroom door. A quick flush and a two-second handwash later, my son was pulling up his pants with the look of shock and horror on his face. I had ruined my son's dreams of ever being a mother...And he didn't wash his hands well. "But, but, but that means that I won't be at work some day and know when my kids get hurt because I won't have their bodies in my brain!"
The shock and horror grew to nearly an it's-way-past-bedtime-and-I'm-just-about-to-flip-the-stink-out-because-I-can't-make-babies throwdown. And what was worse, I had know idea what the hell he was talking about.
He read my face as one who has body parts inside my brain. "Don'tcha remember? When the baby is made the little bits of his body go up to the mom and she keeps it in her brain?"
It was if he had to all but spell out microchimerism for his woefully deficient mother.
Six months ago, Robert Martone published an article in Scientific American about the discovery of children's cells living symbiotically within the mother's body--most recently the cells were found in the brain. I had read bits of the article to my son who, at this moment, was smiling as I had just been struck on the head with the "aha!" 2x4 of memory. He had asked me about the physical implications this would have on either mother or child.
The article noted autoimmune and stem cell yadda yadda, so I faked it. "This means that mothers have a very deep connection with their children," good. That's good. "So when you are hurt or sick, I will be able to tell if you are hurt or sick."
Boom. I just scientifically bullshitted my way to proving intuition on a cellular level. But I think this may be more than just bullshit--er, poop. Maybe instinct and intuition are more than just an unquantifiable connection we rely on? Maybe this microchimerism actually links our babies to our minds in a way that we know when to rush them to the doctor or they just need to be held? As mawmas, many have had that "not right" feeling that occurs and bids us to act in the ta-da nick of time.
"Like when I got bit by that spider? You probably felt that, huh?" my son said.
That intuition. And michrochimerism or not, my son wanted that. I had no idea what to say.
"I'm sure you will have something like that with your kids someday," I tried to reassure him. I tried to be gentle.
"Hmph," he said. The terrible moment of loss had left him and he became preoccupied with his belly button lint. "I just wanted to be a superhero. Moms are kind of like superheroes with body parts in their brains."
Hmmm. A superhero? I like that.
I looked at my son and smiled. He's a cool one. I bend over to give him a kiss on the chee--he has to poop.