Pregosaurus: Monster or mother-to-be?

PEACHLAND, B.C. — As people in this sun-drenched Canadian valley know all too well, Lake Okanagan is host to an ancient sea monster the locals call Ogopogo. While some folks think this elusive creature is a figment of overactive minds, the prevailing theory is that Ogopogo is some sort of primitive deep-sea creature left over from a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Like its more famous (but less-often sighted) counterpart, the Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo is believed by many to be an Elasmosaurus. But Ogopogo is not the only huge, fearsome beast in the region.

As many Okanagan denizens can attest, another possible prehistoric remnant, the voracious Pregosaurus, roams the valley in search of food, her thunderous footsteps echoing through grocery stores and baby boutiques from Kelowna to Penticton. Occasionally, her unremitting hunt for prey takes her as far as Oliver, where only yesterday this ravenous beast is reported to have devoured — in the course of 90 minutes — an estimated 40 chocolate eggs, heaps of pototoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, turkey, an entire plateful of stuffing, and a slice of pumpkin pie.

The Pregosaurus belongs to the order Primates, is omnivorous, and bears a strong resemblance to Homo sapiens, the main difference being an abdomen roughly 10 times larger. Unlike her human counterparts, which move with relative ease, the Pregosaurus has adapted to her unusual abdominal shape by walking more like a penguin.

While she may be clumsy, the Pregosaurus packs quite a bit of physical clout. Aside from her formidable appetite for anything carbon-based, this dinosaur’s volatile cocktail of hormones spells death to those who disturb her slumber or her many daily eating periods. When subjected to discomforts — such as day-to-day existence — the Pregosaurus emits a shrill whining sound, which has been known incapacitate those nearby. Additionally, her massive belly can cause significant damage to unfortunate animals who stumble across the Pregosaurus, even when the abdomen is moved inadvertently as the creature turns to eye nearby sustenance or baby clothes.

A special acid pouch in her esophagus allows her to breathe fire upon those who venture too close, along with aiding in digestion of food (as her stomach is situated in her neck rather than, as logic would suggest, in her enormous abdomen).

However, the Pregosaurus has one great weakness. While she can waddle quite rapidly when the dairy aisle is in sight, the dinosaur does not have the ability to run from predators. Scientists theorize, based on the skeletal structure of the Pregosaurus, that the animal has actually de-volved. While the legs of this dinosaur are built for running, jumping and climbing, the Pregosaurus has not been witnessed doing anything more physical than swimming, stretching, and a rapid, awkward waddle. It is believed that while her legs could run, were they on another animal such as H. sapiens, the sheer size of the Pregosaurus’ gigantic belly limits her speed and mobility. Scientists suspect that the parts of her legs that suggest running ability are vestigial in nature and not indicative of the dinosaur’s actual abilities.

While she is limited in mobility, some researchers believe the Pregosaurus has a level of intelligence similar to higher primates and dolphins. However, conflicting information on her intellect has split the scientific community.

While records indicate she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and completed some pre-med coursework, suggesting that she has sophisticated communication skills and a basic grasp on following instructions and memorizing information, those who claim to have encountered the Pregosaurus say her vocabulary is limited to things pertaining to gestation and caring for young, and that she cannot retain information for more than three minutes. Citing this evidence, some scientists assert that while the Pregosaurus may indeed have attended university, she forced members of H. sapiens to complete her coursework — perhaps by threatening to devour them — or that some cataclysmic event, such as a meteorite, destroyed what intelligence she may have had.

Some archaeologists maintain that the I.Q. of the Pregosaurus is similar to that of H. sapiens and that she simply chooses to have only one topic of conversation, but those in the first group contend that her fixation on bearing and raising young has overtaken areas of her brain that in other species are used for memory and communication, making her somewhat inferior intellectually to other advanced primates, including chimpanzees, as they have found uses for sign language other than as a means to ask preverbal infants “More bottle?” or “Need diaper change?”. These findings seem to be borne out by materials posted by the Pregosaurus on her Web site, which predictably deals with offspring to the exclusion of all other topics.

However, new data suggest that the Pregosaurus is more sophisticated than the chimpanzee in some ways, and may be related more closely to H. sapiens. In a recent dig in Peachland, a photographer unearthed what is believed to be the nest of the Pregosaurus, who scientists believe has been frantically preparing for the hatching of her young.

Researchers who had a chance to look over the photographs marveled at the complexity of the nest, which has been feathered with pink gingham, purple satin, and a butterfly motif. While it has not been determined whether, like H. sapiens, the Pregosaurus associates butterflies with female young, or whether her insatiable appetite extends to winged insects, those who have inspected the nest noticed that the motif is carried through the room quite strongly. Some of the items lining the nest appear to have been handmade, and the bedding and clothing laid out for her young have been laundered, suggesting the Pregosaurus has incorporated tools into her lifestyle, contradicting other research conducted in her lair that indicates she has not mastered the vacuum or the dishwasher. The absence of eggs in a padded, boxlike structure deep in her nest would suggest she has hidden the eggs and is waiting for her young to hatch before placing them in the nest.

Some who have had close encounters with the Pregosaurus assert that she may actually be a member of H. sapiens. Chris Phillips, a Peachland resident who has encountered the Pregosaurus almost daily for the past seven-and-a-half months, has postulated that she is exactly like a human, only with a baby inside. Ultrasonography results funded by that curious Pregosaurus-sighter and obtained by researchers confirm that inside her belly is what looks like a tiny H. sapiens, and local physicians who have examined the beast theorize that once she has somehow expelled her offspring, she will have all the characteristics associated with humans.

How exactly the Pregosaurus’ young, if it is indeed inside her abdominal cavity, will exit her body is up for debate. A local prenatal instructor suggests that live offspring will be pushed through a “birth canal,” but yesterday, Phillips can confirm, the Pregosaurus insisted that her young should be extracted surgically within days or her abdomen would rupture. However, given the prevailing assumption that her mind works differently from those of humans, it could not be determined immediately whether this would be an appropriate course of action.

Until the offspring of Pregosaurus have made their exit, one way or another, from her belly or wherever she has hidden the eggs, the mystery continues to puzzle scientists. Is the Pregosaurus actually a human? Or, is she, like Ogopogo, one of the great beasts left over from the prehistoric days when dinosaurs ruled the earth?

Below are photographs of the Pregosaurus’ elaborate nest, along with photographs of the behemoth herself, in what Phillips says is the 34th week of her young’s gestation:

What is the significance of the butterflies in the Pregosaurus’ nest?

A handmade object researchers believe was crafted
by the Pregosaurus for her young using sophisticated
tools such as a needle, thread, buttons and a staple gun.

Birth of baby = death of humor

One day recently, Chris pointed out to me that my entries haven’t been as funny lately as they were back in the halcyon early days of nausea, vomiting and debilitating fatigue. On looking at my recent posts, they do seem a bit neurotic, and while some people can be funny when they’re neurotic, like Valerie Harper on “Rhoda,” I’m just incredibly spazzy and annoying, like Calista Flockhart on “Ally McBeal.”

I chalk up this blog’s boringness to two factors. First, humor is usually born of adversity. Look at the lives of our most beloved comedians and you will find poverty, parental abandonment and abuse. (This is why they all die of drug overdoses before their time.) While I was experiencing the miseries of the first trimester, the only way to cope was to laugh about the horrors of being nauseated by ginger, nearly peeing during that first miserable ultrasound, and barfing up painful giant chunks of apple.

Now that I am back to normal again (aside from the occasional feeling that an alien is going to burst through my abdomen), I am much like the comedians who don’t die young. Like Robin Williams, Steve Martin and Jim Carrey, the absence of personal torment has ruined me. I have moved on to “more serious material,” such as kvetching about all the things I need to finish before baby’s arrival.

You know how some comedians really should have died young before they made that really awful stinker of a movie? Well, let’s just say the third trimester is my “Patch Adams.”

The second factor is motherhood itself. You see, mothers are not supposed to be funny. Who among us, as a 12-year-old, did not roll our eyes and try to shrink into the floor when our parents tried to say something humorous? It is, quite simply, unnatural for mothers to be amusing in their own right.

Even as an infant, Pele will know that my attempts to be funny are lame, whereas it will be hilarious when I slip on the freshly-washed kitchen floor and spill boiling water over 60 percent of my body. Daddy gets bonus points for the same, because every baby knows that painful accidents are 10 times funnier when they happen to big, strong men.

However, for me to use my own sense of humor goes against all the tenets of motherhood. As I write this, my body is already releasing chemicals that are rapidly destroying my sense of comedy in preparation for parenthood. Pretty soon, the only things that can draw a laugh from me will be Bill Cosby jokes involving a child, a cardboard box, and how much money is wasted on real toys at Christmastime. And let’s not forget the “hilarious” gab sessions I’ll have with other moms about how kids say the darnedest things.

Besides making me laugh at the world’s most unfunny comedic material, the destruction of my brain’s humor center will make it possible for me to utter, with no sense of irony whatsoever, such grim, well-worn gems as “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye,” and “One more peep out of you, missy, and I’m turning this car around.”

My lack of humor will come in handy when the children act up in public. Once upon a time, it was hilarious when everyone in church would fall silent for prayer, only for that void to be broken by a two-year-old saying loudly, “Mommy, I pooped.” Since it was not my toddler, I would turn red trying to rein in the urge to laugh uproariously at the inappropriate (but predictable) timing. However, thanks to the chemicals that are destroying the sector of my brain that processes humorous situations, when Pele does this I will feel only one impulse — the urge to find a new church where nobody knows us.

Fortunately, these chemicals also do a little bit of building, so that part of my brain will be replaced. Unfortunately, it will be replaced with a new part of my brain that causes me to worry about my little one incessantly.

Not only do I worry about providing her with a bottle that won’t cause nipple confusion and toys that don’t damage her hearing, I worry about her future. Will she inherit any medical problems from her dad or me? If Chris speaks French to her, will it give her an edge later or just delay her English? What kind of TV will she be watching when she’s at her friends’ homes?

And it’s not just the near future over which I have found myself fretting. Already, I have begun to worry about whether she will wind up getting her nail-tech certificate at the local strip-mall college instead of attending an Ivy on full scholarship as her dad and I intend. I worry that she’ll get a tattoo. I worry that she’ll smoke. I even worry about pointless issues of personal taste — that she won’t appreciate good design, will listen to really bad pop music (or, since we are in Canada, we may as well face it — even Celine Dion!), and that she might, at sixteen, ask us to buy her an American car. Heaven forbid it is a Chevy.

Of course, morphing from a funny, carefree individual into a humorless neurotic has its upsides. For instance, everyone else is much funnier now. And our children will not be scarred by the humiliating memory of Mom trying to be amusing.

Plus, I like the fact that, like Chris Farley (except with pregancy chemicals instead of a speedball), I’m leaving at the top of my game.

I’m sure that anyone who sat through “Bringing Down the House” will appreciate it.

And without further ado, the Week 33 belly shots, which prove that not only am I quitting while I’m ahead like Chris Farley, I am also as big around as Chris Farley.

Kick the bum out!

It’s high noon here at the O.B. Corral. Thar’s been a stranger a-trespassin’ on my property. I tried to live alongside the new gal in peace, but lately she’s been stirrin’ up quite a ruckus and one thing is clear: Thar ain’t enough room in my ribs fer the two of us. I give her until May 22. After that, this matter won’t be settled in a gentlewomanly manner. I’m gonna smoke her out of her hidey-hole with the biggest shot of Pitocin in the West.

Yes, folks, the time has come. For months, despite bouts of vomiting, bladder kicks and back pain, my overall feelings about being pregnant have been ones of happiness and joy. But now I am officially ready for the baby to come out. Technically we have another six weeks before Pele is considered full-term, so I will let her stay for the time being. However, I want it on the record that the third trimester is not fun.

Between having all the grace and mobility of a beached whale and enjoying the constant feeling that there is a large shoehorn wedged under my ribs and prying them open like a clam shell, the enjoyment I reap when I feel Pele squirming about is no longer enough to stop me from wishing desperately for a C-section. Right. This. Minute.

You see, our darling baby girl has discovered that if she pushes her wee bum up under my ribcage, her cramped apartment has a bit more room, thanks to the comfy park bench that is my right rib. Put your hand on my belly at almost any time, any day, and you will feel a large, hard bulge right below that rib. That, my friends, would be Pele, with her legs jabbing into my diaphragm and her little butt doing its best to peel my ribs back like a sardine can.

What felt a few months ago like a large goldfish lazily doing laps now feels like a crazed badger tunneling toward freedom via my very tender ribs. Our baby now should weigh about 4 pounds and is likely just shy of 17 inches long. This may not seem like much, but when it’s all applied via a sizable baby bum to a single rib, it’s nothing to sniff at. When I think about twice that much weight being applied to my unfortunate rib in just six or eight weeks, I begin to contemplate having that rib removed pre-emptively.

Or maybe, I think to myself when I have that dream where the kids at the mall are beating me in the torso with baseball bats, the little rib-monkey.

Although we still have to let her incubate a bit, my little pain-in-the-ribs has matured a lot in the last few weeks. If she were born now, she’d almost certainly survive and very likely would avoid many of the medical problems that plague micro-preemies. And in the past fortnight or so, while her lungs and other organs have been maturing, we’ve acquired a car seat, ordered a crib, and managed to start getting her room ready. What just a month or two ago seemed so far away now feels as if it should be a matter of weeks. Oh wait … it is a matter of weeks.

As tempting as an early C-section might seem at times, our little bun is so close to being cooked that we might as well let her stay in the oven a bit longer. Every time I check my bottom right rib to see whether it’s cracked, I tell myself, “Just eight more weeks.”

Now, after 10 weeks, we’ll be renegotiating the terms of her lease.
Wanted posters will go up. I’ll bring in an out-of-town cowboy known by the nickname “Dr. G.” Maybe he’ll rush in with IV bags blazing. Or maybe he’ll take the subtle approach and just divert her water supply. All I know is, after Week 42, that little maverick is never going to set foot in my ribs again.

And without further ado, pictures of my ever-expanding belly as I begin Week 32.

Mind and body, minus the mind

Recently, in my frantic third-trimester compulsion to become Supermom, I purchased a yoga tape. Now, normally I would rather do something invigorating and sporty that would cause me to feel a burn than hold a pose for a minute while breathing deeply and feeling a mind-body connection. But the prenatal workout DVD I really wanted was $40, while this yoga DVD could be had for less than $10.

I popped it in and the room was greeted by relaxing New Age music and the ambient noise of a babbling fountain. The voice of my instructor filled the room. It was clear to me that this woman had just had a three-hour massage, two Valium, and a decade of experience working for a classical-music radio station. I strongly suspected she would not be uttering any perky instructions to “feel the burn.” Confirming my suspicions, the entire 45-minute session was narrated soporifically with her admonitions to her onscreen class to cradle their babies with their abdominal muscles and breathe deeply, bringing life-giving oxygen to their little ones. Her hypnotic — perhaps stoned — voice never caught in her throat, despite the fact she most likely subsists on a diet composed entirely of granola.

After nearly falling asleep during several of the poses and generally failing to follow instructions because her voice was so slumberous, I concluded that yoga was not for me.

Instead, enter the Senility Workout. You see, natural pregnancy hormones help pregnant women get more exercise than they normally might. This is accomplished by these hormones causing the woman to forget virtually everything she tries to commit to memory.

Bills? Late.

Christmas tree? Still up.

Bag for the hospital? Didn’t occur to me until someone on BabyCenter asked what everyone would be packing.

Yes, such are the glories of pregnancy. Just imagine this combined with the neurotic compulsions typical of a raging nesting instinct, and you’ve got someone about half as crazy as I typically appear these days. If I remember something, like the fact that the baby will need wee T-shirts for a few week so her stump doesn’t get chafed by mean old tight-fitting Onesies, I am a madwoman on a holy mission until that’s taken care of. Mainly because I know if I don’t get it done NOW, I will completely forget.

But I digress. Despite the toll this new, near-Alzheimer’s-like senility has taken on my sanity (and that of those around me), it is great for my cardiovascular system. Since I am constantly forgetting things, I am constantly backtracking to get them. And with the level of absentmindedness we’re discussing, this means I burn many, many, many extra calories.

Here is a typical instant-message exchange between Chris and me. (I am sure that no one who knows us would ever believe this, but we are so geeky that we IM each other from computers in different rooms of the house. What? You are not surprised?)

Chris: Coming upstairs soon?
Heather: Yep
Chris: Can you pick out a DVD for us to watch and bring my phone on your way up?
Heather: No prob

Five minutes later

Heather ascends stairs and enters kitchen.
Heather: Crap!
Chris: What?
Heather: I forgot to grab a DVD.

Five minutes later

Heather brings DVD upstairs.
Chris: Did you get my phone?
Heather: Please shoot me and put me out of my misery.

And then there’s the lovely scene (which happens every day, just so you know) in which we plan to go somewhere, so I run downstairs and put on my shoes, then take off my shoes, run upstairs, grab my purse, run downstairs and put on my shoes again. Then I remove my shoes, run upstairs, grab my sunglasses, run downstairs, realize I left my purse in the bedroom when I was getting my glasses, go up again to retrieve it, and finally, after three unnecessary trips upstairs, am actually ready to put my shoes on and get out the door. Provided my hoodie is not upstairs.

Thank you very much, yoga lady, but my life is not choreographed by New Age music, and frankly, all this running around leaves me in a very tired and vulnerable state that should not be exacerbated by DVDs that should have heavy-machinery warnings on their labels.

No, whether I watch that yoga video or not, I am already getting all the stair-stepping exercise my butt needs to look great throughout pregnancy — courtesy of an intensive workout program designed by the very hormones that drove me to buy the yoga DVD in the first place.

Talk about your mind-body connection!

And here they are, just a day late this time: Week 31 belly pics.