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In Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “Yesterday’s Whales”, the opening scene is of the narrator, Lauren, and her boyfriend, Malachi, arguing about the fact that she is five weeks pregnant. Malachi wants humans to stop reproducing and die off, so that nature can reclaim the earth. Bergman uses this ironic situation to stress all of the complexities, joys, and fears of impending motherhood. Lauren is kind of having an early midlife crisis. She is torn between her love for her boyfriend and feeling like having a baby is natural and what her body wants. Her mother raised her to love nature, and she thought that is what made her relationship with Malachi work so well. Malachi is concerned with how having a baby will affect his image. He says “Human extinction is my most fundamental belief”, and yet he won’t sacrifice his own life, which would, ideally, be the ultimate way of proving his beliefs.

He feels comfortable telling people to have abortions, is even willing to kill his own child. Lauren points out that he feels comfortable ignoring his vows against eating meat for bites of bacon. Bergman uses Lauren’s pregnancy as a revelation in her life. She was willing to call her baby an accident and even considered abortion because of her boyfriends ridiculous beliefs. Lauren realizes how wonderful motherhood is after retracing her roots and reconnecting with her mother. While at her grandmother’s cabin, she says:

“Mothers, I believe, intoxicate us. We idolize them and take them for granted. We hate them and blame them and exalt them more thoroughly than anyone else in our lives. We sift through the evidence of their love, reassure ourselves of their affection and its biological

genesis. We can steal and lie and leave and they will love us.”

Through the course of the story, both mother nature and human mother’s are taken for granted. Malachi idolizes mother nature, whereas Lauren idolizes her own mother and grandmother. She wants to be part of “this rugged line of hardy women with sharp ideas and heirloom casseroles, so in love with the world.” Taking her place next to her mother seems to be the most natural thing in the world, and Lauren knows that she is keeping her baby.


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