I was an unstable person in early pregnancy. I sweated over every symptom I did — or did not — experience. Constantly anxious, I fretted that my breasts weren’t tender enough, that I was nauseous but not throwing up, that I was tired but not that tired, or that the back pain I had was just a little too intense. I googled every symptom and inevitably ended up on some page with multiple posts from women who had symptoms just like mine … and miscarried four days later. I was also worried that I would screw up. I thought that I would exercise too much (ha — that hasn’t happened yet), I wouldn’t exercise enough (more likely), I would drink caffeine and hurt my child, I would eat Chipotle too often and have too much sodium in my system, I would paint the nursery and the fumes would cause some strange deformity, or I would eat some lunch meat and get listeriosis.
When faced with some minor spotting (which is normal in 1/3 of pregnancies, according to The Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy), I finagled my way into a viability ultrasound (at five weeks!) and gladly signed up for another one at nine weeks. My new doctor, the chill one, was all like, “Why’d you have so many ultrasounds?” when I saw him for the first time. Um, because I’m nuts?
When I got to my second trimester, I started a no-worrying campaign. I decided not to look on any more internet sites with editorial comments from grieving women. I made a vow not to worry about every little thing that the pregnancy books tell you to do or not do. And you know what? It has been tremendously liberating.
Along with this liberation, I have adopted Pregnancy Vices, for which I am sometimes repudiated, and gleefully, I ignore those who would doubt me.
These are my confessions:
• I drink one diet soda a day. Okay, I drink two sometimes. I counteract them with water, lots of milk, and ice cream (I hear ice cream replaces the calcium that the soda leaches from your bones … ha!)
• I take a walk when I feel like it, but sometimes I don’t. This weekend, I skipped prenatal yoga.
• I take Tylenol when I have a headache.
• I took Alavert during the week or two I had allergies.
• I use face wash with salicylic acid. It helps the preggo acne.
• I use whitening toothpaste sometimes.
• This weekend, I painted. I got paint that was low-VOC, but not no-VOC. Yep. I feel no worse for the wear, and the baby is kicking just as hard as ever. I do think that if you DRINK like, oil paint or something that you might hurt your little one. But all the stuff about paint is just way over-hyped. I’m glad my living room is Tawny Birch, and not dingy gray anymore.
• I’ve eaten at Wendy’s twice. It was delicious.
• At my work retreat, I drank a beer. At a friend’s house, I had a glass of wine.
• Sometimes I substitute green vegetables with those green smoothies from Odwalla or Naked. They have blue green algae and wheat grass and stuff. So, that’s like vegetables, right?
• Yes, I do eat lunch meat. I make sure its fresh, and then I eat it. And it’s a good thing.
• Tonight, I had pizza. With bacon on it.
I hope to extend this philosophy to my child-rearing. I think a person can over-think things too much — it hurts your psyche, and you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of a baby. I feel more confident since I stopped worrying so much, and I think the same thing will be true when the baby is born. You can’t do all of the right things all of the time, and you can’t beat yourself up when you don’t accomplish all that you’ve wanted. You can’t worry over every symptom, or overreact when your child meets a milestone a month later than he or she should. If you spend your life sweating the small stuff, you aren’t really living, and what kind of message does that send to your child? I know I’ll always be a worrier, so I’m glad I learned this lesson early.