After discussing it for quite a while, Sunny and I stopped birth control on December 1st. A month later we're pregnant, which alleviated quite a few worries. Now we're trying to figure out how to optimize my health while the prototype human being develops inside of me. Now I've always been short on exercise, and I love food, so making healthy choices in terms of that is high on our priority list. The babies in the Newborn ICU whose mothers had raging, uncontrolled diabetes haunt me. An infant of such a mother can have just about ANY defect, and that's not going to be my baby.
Research on nutrition and diet has always been unsatisfying because it is impossible to completely control someone's diet. You can't really make two hundred people eat exactly the same diet for years in order to truly study the effects of a diet. Add the insurance liability of studying pregnant women, and the end result is that I view a lot of the dietary advice for expectant mothers with skepticism. For instance, the March of Dimes website suggests that 12 ounces a week of fish that may have mercury is safe. How do they know that! I love salmon both as sushi and as gravlax, and now I'm avoiding both. I have blatantly ignored any advice about soft cheese containing a dangerous amount of bacteria. I figure that as long as it is made from pasteurized milk, and it's made from a reputable dairy, I can handle it. I am unhappily avoiding raw oysters, but cooked clams are still on my radar!
The food restriction that really breaks my heart is the restriction against coffee. I love coffee. I associate it with good moments from my childhood and great moments from college. Have you ever had Vietnamese-style coffee? It's drip brewed slowly to extract all of the essence of the ground beans, and an inch of sweetened, condensed milk adds creamy lipids and wonderful sweetness. It's better than a daydream and sweeter than cutting class. Now to hear that caffeine can make for smaller babies and have possible, subtle psychological and neurological effects on the baby is scary. But it's a possible, and I love coffee. An occupational concern is also that I use coffee deliberately to perk me up at the end of a long night on call. Otherwise I run the risk of making bad decisions or one of those desperate let-me-sleep-damnit decisions. My current solution is to switch to hot chocolate, which is a bit too sweet, and avoid caffeine except for those situations where I really need it. Not a satisfying solution, but I don't have enough evidence to give it up entirely, or to keep drinking it blithely.
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