Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 • No Comments on Taking Chances (6w0d)
I broke down over the weekend and bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I have an older edition but I figured I’d splurge and buy the newest edition. There must be many more horrible, toxic, dangerous things in the world now that I should avoid, right? Right. Plus, the woman on the cover of the older edition was in a rocking chair and looked rather somber. I hated that picture. Now look! She’s standing up and smiling! The pregnant woman can walk now! Yay! Of course, the new woman looks about nineteen where the previous woman looked around fifty. Can’t win them all, I guess.
The thing about pregnancy is that everyone assumes a pregnant woman has a network of support help waiting in the wings to take over all those horrible, toxic, dangerous chores once she’s with child. It takes a village to raise a child—and it takes a village to get that child from conception to birth, seems to be the message. A pregnant woman is expected not only to have a supportive (and always available) spouse or significant other, she is expected to have a large, extended family of mostly female relatives—mother, sister, grandmother, aunties. There should be male relatives too, of course. Pregnant women need men to fetch and carry and lift things. There should also be many helpful friends who already have children and can give the pregnant woman advice—and hand-me-down baby clothes, toys and furniture. Oh, and don’t forget the medical professionals the pregnant woman needs—the ones who will be available at all hours to answer any of those little questions all pregnant women have.
Reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting makes me feel woefully alone in the world, even though I do have the supportive spouse and a few good friends (split about even between those with kids and those without), because I’m still sadly lacking in the family department and a medical professional who gives a damn. The thing is, there very well might be pregnant women out there who are lounging about on lavender scented cushions all day, drinking milk and meditating on the health of their growing fetus while their support team waits on them hand and foot—but I don’t know any of those women. I’m definitely not one of them—and I wouldn’t want to be. I like sharing my good news and telling people I’m pregnant, but I don’t like the comments about things I shouldn’t be doing “in my condition.”
In the section about do’s and don’ts of pregnancy (and there are waaaaay more don’ts than do’s), What to Expect says to avoid painting the nursery. You should either paint it before you even conceive (what??) or get your spouse to do it. Where do I even start with what’s wrong with that piece of advice? Let’s start with the one that hits home with me: preparing a nursery before conception assumes that a woman will get pregnant when she’s ready and have a healthy baby nine months later. What to Expect might get away with that naive kind of thinking if not for the pages and pages of warnings about the Really Bad Things that can happen to a pregnancy. They’re also not taking into account the Jewish tradition of not bringing anything baby-related into the house or otherwise preparing for the baby until the baby has arrived. I’m not Jewish, but I can understand the wisdom in that tradition. The other assumption is that every pregnant woman has a spouse at the ready with paint bucket in hand. What about the single woman who choose to have a child on their own? I guess she should hire a painter. Or, in my case, the Navy wife whose husband deployed this morning. I guess I’m just supposed to wait until he comes back.
The reason I caved in and bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting is because I’m tired of internet searches that lead me to websites intent on selling me something—whether it’s fertility treatments, a new, healthier lifestyle or God. I ended up on an organic site last week which, on the surface, seemed helpful. But then I hit upon a section of what not to do and just shook my head in wonder when it suggested I get someone else to pump my gas for me so I don’t have to breathe in the toxic fumes. It ended with one of those quotes all the baby books use, “After all, you deserve to be pampered!”
These sites (and books) that treat pregnancy like some sort of rare disease and pregnant women like fragile creatures. While I’m all for being pampered, I can pump my own gas, thank you very much (and I did, just an hour ago). I’m still trying to figure out why I’m not supposed to paint. Is it the fumes? They make paint that leaves almost no scent. Wouldn’t that, along with open windows and fans, solve the problem? If not, why not? What to Expect doesn’t tell me that, just that I shouldn’t. And I hate being told what to do without some sort of logical reason behind it.
Too often, the answer is that they have no good reason (meaning: no scientific evidence to support their dire warnings) to tell a pregnant woman not to do something. They slyly throw in the veiled warning, “Why take the chance?” As if to say: “If you dare to ignore our warnings and something Really Bad happens, it will be your fault.” Why take the chance? According to that faulty logic, I shouldn’t even be trying to get pregnant anyway. I’m over forty. Why take the chance? I’ve had previous miscarriages. Why take the chance? It’s likely to be a complicated pregnancy. Why take the chance? I’ll probably require a C-Section. Why take the chance? And on and on and on…
It’s human nature to take chances. That’s why the human race has survived as long as it has. Imagine if the cavemen peeked out of their caves and decided not to procreate because the dinosaurs would likely eat their young. (I know I’m playing fast and loose with history, but you get my point.) Or if the Pilgrims decided to abstain from sex because they were dying left and right and didn’t think it was a good idea to bring any more children in the New World. Or if everyone in the United States decided to triple up on birth control after 9/11 because the threat of another terrorist strike is always possible and… Why take the chance?
Some chances are worth taking, which is why I’m pregnant again for the second time in a year. I’ll take my chances it will turn out all right and I’ll do my best to ignore the scarier parts of the baby books. After all, why take the chance?