Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blossoming Bellies

I'm told that I should feel the baby move any time now. I'm 1 day shy of 20 weeks and eager to feel that first kick. I may have felt it already, just not realized what it was. As for this week's status report: "Your baby weighs about 10 1/2 ounces now. He's also around 6 1/2 inches long from head to bottom and about 10 inches from head to heel — the length of a banana." Yikes. I've got a banana tucked into a melon in my abdomen! You think I'd notice if the banana decided to move around.

But what's really kicking me is the pregnancy rules. It seems that almost everyone wants to get in on the game of telling expecting women what they should or should not be doing. Some times it makes sense - Don't take Aleve or ibuprofen because it will increase the rate of birth defects by 7%. Some times it doesn't - you cannot wear high heels. (I realize I might not want to wear heels while pregnant, but how is that going to damage the baby's development, exactly?)

I labor under the abundant unwanted advice that is thrown at me: eat fish, but don't eat *that* fish. I'm struck by the urge to say either, "Shove it" or "Do you realize how dumb you sound?" From what position to sleep in (left-side) to the shoes I should we wearing (no heels, no flip-flops), to my choice in lunch (no sushi, no deli meat or hot dogs) I'm sick of these rules.

I am not only amazed that the wrap-the-pregnant-woman-in-bubble-wrap mentality, I'm also stunned that so many women I know to be smart & thinking women buy into it. Does it ever occur to them that, "Hey, we've managed to keep the human race reproducing for nearly 40,000 years and only in the last 100 or so years have we seen these rules. Maybe it is mostly hype? The women in France seem to be enjoying brie with not a noticeably higher rate of miscarriage" Poll the women 60 & older - they'll tell you that they drank while pregnant with you and you seem (mostly) OK. Maybe this has to do with the desire to just let go for 40 weeks - "No, hon, I can't clean the kitchen, my doctor says to take it easy. Yet, when I miscarried, I was told that it was likely genetic - not that lovely Camembert cheese I had.

I'm a little slow, yet what I'm coming to understand is that this is the pre-birth version of Mothers Guilt. While Freud started this movement with his blame your mother psychology, the tone and rigor escalated once women who didn't need to work yet didn't want to stay home put on their hats and got jobs. I can recall the news casts talking about how scarred latch key kids would be as adults. I was a latch-key kid and I seem to be a (mostly) well adjusted adult.

Thankfully, we've seen the real data - a generation and a half having grown up without mom home baking cookies - and so far, so good. Lately the tactics seems to be focused on getting mothers to feel guilty that they aren't providing enough opportunities for their child to thrive in. Hence the well scheduled & over-planned life of the modern child - from play date to music lesson to soccer practice, and woe be to the mother who doesn't make a good, home-cooked meal after busing Junior around all day. Just stop already.

I do say that all women should find the right balance for themselves. My balance involves an occasional drink of wine, nearly daily work-outs and all the blue cheese I can eat - balanced with my 5-7 servings of fruits & veg, one of which should be a leafy green and total ban on caffiene, unless it is in that chocolate I just noshed.

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