On Futility


So at the ripe old stage of 31 weeks pregnant I have come to the realization that trying to do everything ‘right’ during your pregnancy is an impossible task. I have felt this way for some time though it was fully confirmed for me last week.

You see before getting pregnant while battling infertility I read everything I could on getting pregnant and what to do during pregnancy. Once pregnant I may have ‘freaked’ a bit and read even more and ‘googled’ more obscure pregnancy related questions than one would think possible. I heard Google keeps all your searches archived somewhere and if a trained psychiatrist cracked open mine in the past 7 months they could only conclude that this person was a nutto in need of an intervention:

“toothpaste safe during pregnancy?”

“deodorant safe during pregnancy?”

“prenatal vitamin requirements for pregnancy”

“foods to avoid during pregnancy”

Those were the more tame ones. And yes, I did continue to use deodorant and toothpaste, you’re welcome. I did try this all-natural deodorant, but it definitely left me smelling ‘all-natural’. And of course, like almost every preggo in last 10 years I bought that famous “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. And I even downloaded the book’s App for my iPhone so I could get a daily tip and info on my pregnancy.

I had read enough of this book in excerpts to know I was probably just going to be really annoyed with it. The book varies from scaring the crap out of you about ALL the possible things that could go wrong to telling you THE most obvious things EVER. For example, I learned I should stop any habitual cocaine use as it could lead to serious birth defects. The same for binge drinking and chain-smoking. It also preps you step by step on how to deliver your own baby in an emergency situation. You know how you deliver your own baby in an emergency situation? YOU DON’T, you call 911 and you pray to God they get there. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, where horse and buggy outnumber cars, should you ever have to worry about delivering your own child. If you do live in the middle of nowhere then I highly recommend this book and you should start boiling water now, just in case.

But last week I lost my patience with the whole ‘scare-culture’ that surrounds pregnancy. I opened my ‘What to expect’ app on my phone for my daily tip and read this:

“fish oil supplements may be easy to pop but it isn’t wise – especially when you’re pregnant. First because there is no research to establish whether these supplements are safe (they may contain toxins)…ask your practitioner about DHA supplements derived from algae.”

Ok, on day 223 you decide to tell me this?! Where were you on day 1? Frik-on-a-stick! Or on days 20-67 where instead of giving me this VITAL information you told me EIGHT different times on how to avoid hemorrhoids during pregnancy! And in the book, all it says is to take a DHA supplement and eat some fish. NOTHING about the potential TOXINS that I have apparently been popping for 200+ days.

I tell Jacob this news and tell him I need new DHA supplements. He gives me the look that I assume every expectant father has mastered by month 3 of the pregnancy, a look of “I’m supporting this because it’s easier than objecting to it and you might cry if I don’t” I LOVE THAT LOOK, really, it’s sweet because you know he wants so desperately to inject some reality into my delusion, but he knows better, THAT is love.

So I drive to health food store in our town. I find DHA supplements made from algae and an EPA supplement made from fish but its label promises to be ‘400 times more pure than that other crap on the shelf next to it’, so I take it on faith that it is ok. You know what algae DHA and ultra pure fish oil cost? MORE than my last pair of shoes! (Ok to be fair, my last pair cost $19.99 but still, more than $20 for two bottles of supplements that were on sale for 30% off!)

So I did give into that piece of scare-you-into-doing-it information but there has been so much other crap this app and book has told me that now I read the app daily just for a good laugh. Like the book and app tell you that you should sleep on your left side exclusively for best blood flow to the baby. Do you know how sore my left side got from doing this? And Spike has now it seems taken up permanent residence in my right side rib cage. Like the entire baby I can feel from my belly button over to my right side. I attribute this to my left side sleep because sleeping on my left side every night probably meant he/she couldn’t ever move over to the other side and spread out. Now I FLAGRANTLY sleep on my right side in hopes of getting his or her little baby butt out of my lower rib cage.

And then there was the helpful tip that I should get 75-90 grams of protein a day. DUDES, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A “GRAM” IS. We don’t do the metric system here in America, can’t you just say like ‘eat some meat and nuts? And then they suggest that anchovies are a good source of protein and DHA. I swear if I ever meet the person that wrote that little gem I’m gonna force feed them a can of anchovies.

I also started freaking out when they told me the baby could ‘taste’ what I eat so I need to eat a variety of foods so the baby would not be a picky eater. I tried that for like a day. I am adventurous in what I eat, but my day-to-day diet during pregnancy has been based on the theme of ‘what won’t make me puke today‘. So basically the baby is going to LOVE Annie’s white cheddar mac ‘n cheese, sweet potatoes, fruit, vegetarian sushi, wasabi, and cucumbers. And now I want CUCUMBERS like you wouldn’t believe.

There seems to be such a culture of fear around pregnancy these days. You must do everything right or your baby will have two heads. Labor is a dangerous procedure that must be medicalized as much as possible because women’s bodies haven’t been doing this at all successfully for hundreds of years. Yes, I do believe in doing everything to ensure the baby is safe, but I do think the high rate of c-sections is alarming.

And my fear over infertility initially led into me being afraid of EVERYTHING about my pregnancy, (Dear google, I am really sorry about all those crazy searches), but now I am just fed up. There is no way for me to live up to the expectations of all those baby books. Do you know just from that book alone I’m supposed to be doing like fifteen different exercises each day? Pelvic tilts, ab work, push ups, cardio, kegels (all men reading this, don’t ask, just don’t), squats, lotus stretches, etc. You know what I did for exercise in my first trimester? I threw up and laid on my bathroom floor every other day. Yet somehow disaster hasn’t happened for lack of me not doing pelvic tilts during my first trimester.

I’m hoping as I enter my last weeks of pregnancy that I’ve relaxed some. I have managed to walk 5 days a week for 30-60 minutes in my second and third trimester. I try to eat a variety of foods, but I don’t beat myself up if I want a candy bar or potato chips. And I have refused to give into the latest craze of what I call ‘anorexic pregnancies’ where you see how little weight you can gain. That trend just sickens me.

So all in all I think the kiddo and I will be ok. Maybe I’ll even write a book called “There are some things you shouldn’t ‘Google’ and other lessons I learned from pregnancy”

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9 responses to “On Futility

  1. I would read your book!

    If you think those books are scary, try “So you’re expecting twins, triplets, or quads”. That book is like, “I am the only doctor who successfully delivers twins, so if you don’t follow my advice – including eating lots of ice cream – then your babies will not survive”. Sorry, WHAT?! I’m doing my best to gain twin weight but ice cream is not the way, definitely not when twin pregnancies have higher risk for gestational diabetes (and I have PCOS so I am at a higher risk as it is, even if I were only pregnant with one).

  2. Boy how did you kids ever make, without all this.

  3. stevenlovewins

    Write the book!!!!!

    With the right agent and marketing, it could be the start of a great career!

  4. pregnancyhealthtips

    I was the same, I googled everything before I ate it, used it, did it!! šŸ™‚

  5. yes, those books are chock full of helpful info, and I am positive that the mother who is using cocaine if really going to be reading any pregnancy books!
    Oh, and there was a friend of mine who had her baby in her bathroom here in Culver just 6 months ago…and she is not a homebirth kind of mom. She even got a copy of the 911 call, complete with her yelling and the baby’s first cry in the background. So anything could happen! (and it was her second kid, so she knew what was happening!)

  6. oh, and your next pregnancy, you’ll be so ridiculously laid back you won’t even recognize yourself!

  7. If you haven’t already, you need to read Brining up Bebe–they totally explore the differences of being pregnant in France where there is no culture of fear around being pregnant. They avoid the big three (booze, drugs and smoking) and the rest is only dangerous if it’s contaminated. It would be so much nicer to live in a world like that.

    • I’ve added that one to my list to read, sadly our library here takes forever to get new books in. We had our 3 year old foster child in a montessori school and it was a lot like what I heard the book is like. Let the kid have time to play on his own without structure etc.

  8. UGH, step away from that book. All I have ever heard about it is that it is neurotic fear mongering shit. No thanks! You’re smart – you’ll do what feels right.

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