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That’s Just Uncanny

, , , , , , | Working | May 10, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Pregnancy Loss

 

This is one of the weirdest things to have ever happened to me. To start, I had a drinking problem when I was in my early twenties, and while I toyed with the idea of getting sober, I never really had the motivation. I had a coworker who was a little odd and kind of a goofball, but she was really sweet. I went in to work one day and was getting ready to head out onto the floor when she stopped me.

Coworker: “Congratulations on your pregnancy!”

Me: “Uh… I’m not pregnant.”

It was really strange, because she said it with such certainty. I didn’t think any more about it. The next day, I came in and was very excited for a party I’d be going to that night.

Me: “[Husband] and I are going out tonight. I’m getting smashed!”

Coworker: “That’s not a good idea. [My Name], you’ll hurt the baby. Could you stick to water or soda tonight?”

Me: “[Coworker], I’m not pregnant.”

She kept giving me strange looks all day, but I shrugged it off and went to the party anyway. I got wasted and enjoyed myself. The next week, I missed my period. After a few days of it not coming, I took a pregnancy test and… yes. I was pregnant. I got to work and took her aside.

Me: “Hey, so… Yeah, I’m pregnant. How the h*** did you know?”

Coworker: “Huh? I don’t know. You just looked different when you walked in, and that’s what popped into my head.”

It didn’t end here, though. About a month later, I had a miscarriage. I was devastated and had to take time off work. I went through that phase of grief where I felt like it was my fault for not listening to my coworker, even though I had no way of knowing at that time that I was pregnant. When I went back to work, she also seemed really upset for me, and she apologized over and over, even though it wasn’t her fault. 

About six months later, I was going in to work, and my coworker stopped what she was doing to look at me.

Coworker: “Oh! Hey, congratulations on the baby!”

Manager: “[Coworker]! This is not funny! Don’t you joke about that right now! Apologize to her for it!”

Coworker: “But… but she’s pregnant again.”

I had plans to go out that same weekend, and I cancelled them immediately, just to be safe. I stuck to water to drink and didn’t really over-exert myself. About a week later, I missed my period. Another pregnancy test later, followed by a visit to the doctor confirmed that yes, I was pregnant. Again. I had a healthy daughter nine months later, and it helped me finally get sober.

The Hamburg Baby Burglar

, , , , , , , | Legal | May 7, 2022

Back in 2011, we moved to Hamburg, Germany from The Netherlands. My German was basic at best, but I tried. One day, I was coming back from a jogging session and I saw a neighboring building on fire. It was nothing massive, but black smoke was coming out of a couple of kitchen windows on one of the stories.

In front of that building, I saw my neighbor: a young woman with her four-month-old daughter in a pram. The neighbor was completely in distress, obviously trying to reach someone on the phone without any luck. She was screaming into what I suppose was a voicemail:

Neighbor: “Pick up the d*** phone. Why don’t you answer me?!”

I approached her to see what was wrong and whether I could help. Apparently, one of the kitchens burning belonged to a friend of hers — the one she couldn’t reach. She was in complete panic, afraid that the friend was still inside. The street was starting to fill out with various emergency vehicles, being extremely loud. I offered to help her and she gave me her kid so that the baby wouldn’t be in all that noise. Mind you, I had been living there for just a couple of months and more than knowing we were neighbors could not be said about our relationship. 

I took the kid in the pram to a safer place and had to ask for permission to enter the street, as it was closed off by the police officers. I was wearing a bright neon pink shirt — the typical “don’t run me over” jogger outfit. The kind police lady let me pass after I told her I live in the building next door and advised me to go inside with the kid to avoid breathing in the fumes. In all the confusion, I didn’t tell the neighbor where I was going, and she didn’t tell me where to take the kid. We each assumed the other one knew. I’m sure you all already know where this is going.

I took the kid inside, into my apartment, as advised. She was tired, and as I rocked her in my arms, she fell asleep. I put her on the sofa and sat beside her, not knowing if the could turn and fall down. All of a sudden, I could hear helicopters flying over, quite low. My heart leaped; I was sure that the building on fire was in a very bad condition.

Suddenly, someone rang the doorbell. When I opened it, I saw two police officers standing in front of me. They looked at me, up and down, and asked if I had seen a baby girl, matching the description of the baby sleeping on my sofa. 

Me: “Yeah, she’s here, sleeping.”

Officer: “What? Wait… This was all a misunderstanding. What luck. Oh, dear, what luck! Could you pick her up and bring her along?”

Me: *Completely confused* “Sure.”

I picked up the still sleeping girl and, guided by the two police officers, stepped out of my apartment onto the street. What I saw scared the living daylights out of me. There was an entire corridor of the police force: a full K9-unit, motorbike police officers, police officers on horses, uncountable police cars, ambulances, etc.

Apparently, the neighbor — the little girl’s mother — finally reached her friend and, happy that the friend was okay (she wasn’t at home, but working, to begin with), she turned around to her kid… who was gone… and she had no recollection anymore to whom she had given the child. So, her first reaction was to go into full-blown panic mode and claim that someone had kidnapped her kid.

In a street full of emergency services due to a fire, it wasn’t difficult to organize a full search. And then, it hit me: those helicopters were looking for me!

All is well what ends well: we (me and my husband, who missed the whole ordeal due to work) went to visit the neighbors a couple of days later with some newborn presents, and we had coffee, cake, and a good laugh about everything. I even ended up babysitting on a couple of occasions.

And, ladies and gentlemen, that is how I ended up having a true story of how I, once upon a time, was Hamburg’s most wanted criminal, even if it was for a very short period of time.

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys (Unless They Want To)

, , , , , , , , | Related | April 30, 2022

I was visiting my goddaughter, and I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up.

Goddaughter: “I want to be everything, except for a bad guy or a cowboy.”

Me: “Why not a cowboy?”

Goddaughter: “I don’t know. I just don’t want to be a cowboy.”

Me: “But you want to be everything else? You’re going to be a plumber, and a cop, and a doctor? Isn’t that a lot of things to do at once?”

Goddaughter: “No, I’ll do them all.”

Mother: “It’s too bad she won’t be a cowboy or she could be all of the Village People at once.”

My goddaughter stayed true to her claim for my whole visit, repeatedly telling me she didn’t want to be a bad guy or a cowboy. Poor cowboys get no love.

This Stuff Only Happens On TV… And NAR

, , , , , | Learning | April 29, 2022

I’m a biology teacher at a high school. Back when I was a much newer teacher, we had reached the point of learning about genetics and Punnett squares, which are used to show how dominant and recessive genes will be inherited from parents to children. Usually, the second most common example used for these — next to Mendel’s original example with peas — is eye color. However, I didn’t like this because it’s not accurate; eye color is actually controlled by sixteen different genes and is more complex than simple Punnett squares can handle.

Thus, I decided to use blood type as an example for our Punnett squares. It’s a slightly more complicated example, due to A and B types being codominant, but at least it doesn’t require lying to students.

Then, one day, a girl came up to me before the start of class.

Student: “Mr. [My Name], I think I’m doing the squares wrong.”

Me: “What’s the problem?”

Student: “My dad is AB and my mom is A, but I’m O. I can’t make the squares work.”

Me: “Oh, yes, that wouldn’t usually work. Are you certain you have everyone’s blood types right?”

Student: “Yeah, I asked them last night.”

Me: “Oh, I see.”

Student: “An AB parent can have an O kid, right?”

There was a hint of anxiety behind this question, as if she was pleading with me to tell her they could.

The answer — as I found out only after I was put on the spot with this question and Googled it — was that it is possible but exceptionally rare for this to happen. Still, even if I didn’t know that for certain yet, I knew there were usually exceptions to most genetic rules of thumb, so I hedged a little.

Me: “Usually not, but genetics are strange; there are always mutations or unusual recombination happening, so most of the stuff we teach in genetics is how things usually work, not a promise it will always be that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are times when AB parents have O children.”

Student: “But how often does that happen?”

Me: “I’m not really certain.”

Student: “But is it common?”

Me: “I don’t think it’s common, but it could happen.”

The student was quiet for a bit while thinking, looking increasingly worried. Eventually, she spoke up again.

Student: “What about eye color? Brown is dominant, right?”

The girl had brown eyes.

Me: “Eye color is more complicated since it’s controlled by many genes; Punnett squares don’t really work with them.”

Student: “So, brown really isn’t dominant?”

Me: “It kind of is. If you have one parent with blue eyes and one with brown, you’re more likely to end up with brown eyes, but it doesn’t always happen that way.”

Student: “But parents with blue eyes can have a brown-eyed daughter?”

Me: “Yes, definitely!”

Student: “Okay, good. Is that common?”

Me: “Well, it’s not exactly common, but it definitely can and does happen. I’m afraid I don’t know the exact odds without looking it up.”

Student: “Oh, okay. Thank you.”

She still looked worried and a bit dejected as she wandered back to her seat. I was not at all happy with how the conversation had gone, but I couldn’t think of anything else I could say or do, other than lying to her, to make things better, so I had to just leave things be and get on with starting class.

The next Monday, I saw the student again. She was looking very upset while looking at me as if she couldn’t decide whether to approach me or not.

Me: “[Student], are you okay?”

Student: “No! You were right!”

Me: “Right about what?”

She looked like she was considering answering, but she glanced around the classroom that was starting to fill with students, some of whom were clearly interested in our discussion in front of the class.

Student: “I don’t want to talk about it here.”

Of course, I respected that, but I found her to talk in private later. It turns out the man who raised her was not her biological father after all. He had fertility issues, and in the end, his brother ended up donating sperm for them to get pregnant, but they had never told their daughter. The blood types not adding up was the thing that made my student start thinking, but ultimately, she had come up with lots of other things, like eye color, that didn’t quite add up, and so she had decided to confront her parents during the weekend. They admitted the truth when she confronted them.

She was very upset at having this hidden from her, especially since, apparently, her biological father had moved to another country shortly after she was born, so she barely knew anything about him. I did my best to reassure her and remind her that anyone who cared for and loved her all her life was her real father, regardless of genetics, but she was less concerned about that and more about feeling like she had been lied to her entire life.

She would eventually come to accept the news, but not until she had time to deal with her feelings and emotions. As for me, I decided that I wasn’t going to be teaching any blood type-related Punnett squares after that year. I’ll still sometimes use the old standard of eye color but only after stressing that it’s an oversimplification. I figure, that way, if I ever have a brown-eyed student asking why their parents are both blue-eyed again, I can at least honestly say that is a real possibility and that I had already warned them we were oversimplifying eye color. I’d prefer not to be the cause of any more children getting unpleasant realizations.

A Depressing Lack Of Compassion

, , , , , | Friendly | April 27, 2022

My sister-in-law has invited my daughter and me to a kids’ group at her church. Afterward, we are talking with another mom. For reference, my sister-in-law has two sons and the other mom has three.

Mom: *Pointing to my daughter* “So, how old is she?”

Me: “She’ll be two at the end of next month.”

Mom: “Are you going to have more kids?”

Me: “We’ll see. I had really bad postpartum depression, and I don’t want to go through that again, so she might be an only child.”

Mom: *Laughs* “All moms have postpartum depression! It’s normal. Besides, you had a girl first.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s not how that works.”

I declined the next time we were invited.