news item: I’ve Been Drinking Through My Pregnancy

Drinking during pregnancy.

I’d hazard a guess that this is a hot button topic, and though it’s part of the title of this post, it’s not the whole point of this post. We’ll get back to that.

Last week one of the PAIL contributors sent us an email about the article, “I’ve Been Drinking Through My Pregnancy.” My knee jerk reaction before reading it (full disclaimer – I was someone who had a few drinks while pregnant with the full blessing of my medical provider) was along the lines of…oh great… another article where people are going to bash the author for making any number of responsible, informed choices with her own body while she was pregnant . Honestly? I was pleasantly surprised.

The author writes:

When I called my doctor to ask her what I could do to get some sleep, she said, “If you want, drink some wine. No more than one glass every other day. You’re not going to hurt anyone.”

I had spent the majority of nine months worrying about my water intake, my caffeine intake, my calcium, my folic acid, my weight, lunch meat, cheese, mercury in my fish, my cankles, that I was exhausted. When my doctor suggested drinking wine, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. It was precisely the permission I needed to make my own decisions about what was happening to my body.

Okay. So a show of hands here – how many women here have felt stressed about how to best  take care of their bodies and unborn child(ren) while pregnant?

NOW, a show of hands – how many women here have been lectured by friends, family members, and even strangers about how to best take care of their bodies and unborn children while pregnant?

In my personal opinion, when you travel the ALI road to pregnancy and parenting, you tend to research the crap out of … well, most anything and everything. For some women, it means that they end up afraid of doing, eating, or saying anything that would be perceived as being ungrateful for the pregnancy (read: the posts where women claim to not miss A SINGLE FACET of non-pregnant life – do you women really exist?). For others, it simply means they had time to research too much and drive themselves a bit batty. For many, the years of research and pages of questions we have peppered our medical providers with have allowed us to make informed choices that we feel good about…even if we’re afraid to admit it to everyone.

Recently, I admitted to a group of close friends that I occasionally had a glass of wine while pregnant and one of the women broke into tears. She told me later that it was so hard for her to get pregnant that she would never “play fast and loose” with her child’s well-being and confessed to being amazed that I am so “cavalier” with my precious babies. I understood her fears. But, I also knew that my miscarriage came during a time when I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol in two months and I was eating a low-fat, all organic diet. I was the healthiest I had ever been in my adult life and the worst still happened.  Also, this woman lets her son play football, which seems far riskier. I said none of these things. I just nodded, thanked her and walked away.

Ugh. It’s hard to get mad at someone whose judgment is coming from a place of pain. I get it. But it’s still judgment. People judge you for everything from how you become a parent to how you actually parent… the judgment seem to be never ending at times. However, I love the writer’s final point:

And no matter what motherhood path we choose, we all end up muddling through somehow. What’s more important than following rules is giving ourselves the breath, the space, and the grace to be the mother we need to be. And if we could extend that lesson to others so I don’t have to write this anonymously, that would be great too.

The main point of this post for me? The elusive “let’s respect each other’s parenting choices” card. Awesome.

*****

What was the biggest thing people judged for you during your pregnancy?  Eating cold deli meat, sushi, and soft cheeses? Having a drink? Sleeping on your right side instead of your left?  Highlighting your hair? — How did you handle it?

If you adopted, what kind of judgments did you face? Open adoption vs. closed? Domestic vs. international? Newborn vs. older child? Telling the child vs. keeping it a secret? Did people try to tell you the “best” choice (in their opinion, obviously)? — How did you handle it?

Do you think you have become more/less judgmental thanks to the ALI journey?

To you catch yourself giving unwanted/unasked for advice to others? Or do you bite your tongue?

*****

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