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Bergman’s “The Cow That Milked Herself” is a story of unexpected self-discovery, change, and love . The narrator is a young woman on the verge of motherhood and her husband, Wood, is a veterinarian. His failure to pay attention to his pregnant wife is conveyed many times in the story, but one line that really stuck out to me was when he was he was giving her an ultrasound and says, “I think we cleaned this after the rottweiler.” It shows a lack of consideration for his wife and child, and it places his job before them. The narrator wants him to be excited about their baby, but she realizes that her husband is more interested in “dogs with shattered elbows, cats with failing livers, cows with mastitis” than her healthy baby girl. Bergman parallels the tripod rottweiler, Cerulean, with the narrator. Cerulean is afraid and alone, and the narrator attempts to comfort her because they are emotionally connected on that level.

I got the impression that  Wood is afraid as well because he is a veterinarian and a human baby is something he is unfamiliar with. A mother is connected emotionally and physically with her baby because they are part of the same body. The instructor at the birthing center says, “Remember, it may take days to fall in love with your newborn.”  I think that Bergman chose to include this line because it relates to the estrangement Wood has with his baby, and it will take him some time before he can build a strong connection with her. Wood is also selfish. He doesn’t yet grasp how much his life is going to change because he doesn’t have to deal with being a parent. At the end of the story, the narrator becomes sure of her strength as a mother and knows that she would do anything for her baby.

 

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