I am not surprised to learn that michrochimeric fetal cells are commonly embedded into every fiber of a mother’s being, from her marrow to her brain.
Let me break it down.
My baby, Julianna, is 22 today. It’s been more than 8,030 days since she left the incubator that is my womb, and yet, I feel she is always with me.
For example, I often have a flash in my brain that says, “Call Julie,” and before I pick up my iPhone, there she is on my incoming digital display. I could never explain that, fully, but I had a hunch it was something organic, like we think the same thoughts.
So on that hunch, I Googled “babies cells stay with mothers” the other day and found a slew of scientific data confirming what the four other little voices in my brain had already told me: The mother/child bond is based on more than all those late-night feedings.
Turns out that during pregnancy, michrochimeric fetal cells, aka your baby’s DNA, seeps into your body parts, via the placenta, and can end up anywhere and everywhere. It’s a sciency word based on a Greek myth. Homer first mentioned the chimera in the Iliad to describe a three-headed fire-breathing beast, part lion, goat and snake.
Because scientists tend to be the kids who geeked out over sci-fi movies, comic books and mythology, they naturally borrowed that colorful idea to describe what happens on the cellular level when a woman hosts a baby in her uterus for nine months. As an aside, it can also happen in utero when an unviable fetus doesn’t make it to the finish line, and the cells become absorbed by a twin fetus, or the host mother.
And, this can happen every time you carry a child, which means someone like me who has four children ends up carrying all of them around with me inside my head.
This would explain a lot.
Like the way I am always thinking about them and their welfare, going to extreme measures to locate them when they fail to check in, or historically asking them annoying questions I already know the answers to, like, “Don’t you think you need a jacket?” or “Shouldn’t you be doing your homework?” I already know the answer is “Duh,” but I ask anyway. It’s written into the maternal script.
But it also explains why over the years my husband has felt I seemed to care more about their welfare at times, than his, or why when one of them forgot their lunch box or came to me with a boo-boo on their knee, I had to drop everything and race to school with sustenance, or make a ceremony out of fixing everything with Neosporin, a Band-aid and a kiss.
When they hunger, I hunger; when they hurt, I hurt. Dramatic, I know. But now I have proof that it’s not just a feely-touchy estrogen thing. It’s a scientific actual thing.
I also learned that the presence of these cells can protect a mother’s immune system – helping her own wounds heal faster, or even protecting her from certain types of cancer – sort of the way stem cells can fix broken ones.
Anyway, I bring this up for two reasons, possibly three.
First, I want my dear husband to know that while he has my heart, our four children have invaded all of me, down to the fiber of my being. It’s hard to let them fly from the nest without activating my internal homing device, and explains why there are so many helicopter moms out there.
Secondly, all you helicopter moms out there can stop feeling ashamed for your hovering. You love your kids because you created them, but also, because they have created you. Once you’ve given birth, you are a different person based on your mutated DNA. I guess that makes us like superhero X-Moms with amazing mutant powers, like anticipating a phone call from our college kids before the phone even rings.
But finally, I want to reassure my beautiful, adventurous, kind-hearted daughter that at 22, she will always be my baby, regardless of the time she spends outside my uterus, thanks to her baby cells that live on inside of me.
And that, even on her most difficult days, when she feels nobody could possibly understand what she’s going through, her mutant mother with the wild heart of a five-headed beast is right there with her, or more precisely, she is always right here with me.
Happy birthday to us.