How A Chicken Turned My Mom Into a Secret Democrat
In Memory of Natalie Portman the Chicken, a Rooster
Some stories need exaggeration to make them interesting. This one doesn't. Every word is true.
The Human Babies
My friend Kelly and I were pregnant at the same time. Our babies grew to be soybean-sized, then avocado-sized, and then spaghetti squash-sized. We had the same due date and figured our babies would be born around the same time. When we hit week 39, Kelly’s water broke while she was watching the movie The Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman. The next day, she delivered her baby — a fat, healthy girl.
Kelly’s baby was one week old and then two weeks old. Her eyes opened up and her legs and arms grew breastmilk-fueled fat rolls. And I was still pregnant. At 41 weeks, my baby was still lodged securely in my womb. Desperate and uncomfortable, I told my husband I wanted to watch The Black Swan — like Kelly — to see if it would kick things into gear.
We did watch the movie, and the next day, I did go into labor. My baby was born a full 14 days after we’d expected. She had downy black hair and tiny doll fingernails that we had to clip the day she was born.
The Chicken Babies
Now a lot of people don’t know this, but you can mail-order live chickens and have them shipped to you. Early in my pregnancy, I had decided to start a new flock of chickens while I was home on maternity leave. I had combed through chicken catalogs and finally placed an order for 24 New Hampshire red chicks. When I placed the order, the company gave me a two-week range of delivery dates and gave me a long list of instructions for how to prepare for these new babies. It’s possible I was taking the idea of ‘nesting’ a bit too literally, but it made sense at the time.
And then, of course, my baby person came late and the chickens came early.
After Harper was born, we drove home from the hospital on a Sunday night as a family of three instead of a family of two. The next morning, I got a call from the post office at 7 am asking me to come and pick up my ‘live animal shipment.’