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Room for cream

Jenny Uebbing

Cup of coffee by Tilen Hrovatic

This being my triple crown pregnancy, I've had the distinct pleasure of finally being able to relax a tad about this whole gestation business. This is not to say that I don't still Google fatal conditions and occasionally lie in bed frantically poking at my abdomen, trying to make a sleeping baby prove her continued existence via kicked out Morse code, but I'm a little more chill about most of the 'thou shalts' and 'thou shalt nots' that accompany an American pregnancy.

Yesterday morning, for example, when I broke my own newfound resolve to stop drinking terrible coffee and ambled into Starbucks for a $2 cup of drippy Pike Place, my order was greeted with a raised eye by Mr. Barista.

"So you're not worried about caffeine with the baby?"

As my other two babies were not dragged on this particular coffee run, I had no visual aids, but I communicated to him that two out of two pregnancies had turned out well enough, java jolts and all.

He chuckled a little and handed over my disappointing cup of joe, and I dumped non-organic half-n-half in to further insult the injury. My poor, defenseless in-utero babe was now swimming in caffeine and cow hormones.

Beginning this pregnancy in Italy and ending it in America (my two months more pregnant than I am now self is punching my current self in the face for even mentioning 'the end' at 28 weeks) has given me the privilege of seeing two very different perspectives on procreation, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. In Italy salad was dangerous business, as was carrying my then 14-month old. Wine, however, was fine. Encouraged, even, as a way to soothe mother's anxious nerves at the day's end and ensure that the wee bambina had a sophisticated palate upon arrival. (Love that line of reasoning.)

In America, wine is not only frowned upon (quite literally by strangers in restaurants, if you're bold enough to drink in public) but websites and plenty of MDs go overboard preaching fetal alcohol syndrome to women rarely accustomed to imbibing more than a glass or two of Chardonnay in a given week. Ridiculous.

Even exercise is controversial here: either you're overdoing it ala last week's Crossfit controversy (Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about) or you're condemning your helpless babe to type 2 diabetes in the womb with that second bowl of Cherry Garcia.

In other words, it's hard to strike a balance.

I think  this time around I've just about got it down. I work out three or four times per week, nothing crazy, but sometimes I get ambitious and do four miles on the elliptical, which my back promptly informs me is a terrible mistake, usually around 2 am the next morning. Some evenings I'll have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. Last month on a date night at the Rio (Coloradans, you know what magic I speak here) I even had a (gasp!) mini margarita. I know, I know...worst mom ever.

Except here's the thing: I'm not in some kind of "temporary" state during pregnancy and nursing. In fact, over the nearly four years we've been married, I think I've had five collective weeks where I wasn't one or the other. And two of them were our honeymoon. So the whole 'no drinking/no coffee/no Tylenol/no heavy lifting/no soft cheeses' business? Not gonna fly.

Call me crazy or uninformed or what you will, but women have been carrying, birthing, and feeding babies a lot longer than the AAP has been blasting missives of doom onto the WWW, so I've got a feeling there is more collective wisdom in childbearing and rearing than in the entirety of BabyCenter.com. Add to the crazy the fact that most moms-to-be have been pumping their bodies full of doctor-proscribed synthetic hormones and chemicals for years and years and, well, I think you can see why I'm skeptical over the medical establishment's recommendations for gynecological health. Or health in general.

I actually think it's a symptom of the larger anti-life culture which sees pregnancy as some kind of disease (unless it's planned, and then it's a critical high-risk condition). In reality, pregnancy is a normal - albeit special - season in a healthy marriage. And unless you're screwing with the process or are struggling with infertility, it's a season that comes around again and again...and again. As seasons are wont to do.

So yes, I will drink that coffee. Might even make it an espresso, while you're at it, since I have two nanny-less toddlers to keep up with all day long. I've got plenty of other primo opportunities for mommy guilt in my life, no need to seek it out in the bottom of a wine glass or a plate of melty Brie.

Topics: Abortion , Contraception , Culture , Family , Motherhood , Natural Family Planning , Women's Health

Jenny Uebbing is the content editor of Heroic News, a web-based news service dedicated to life and cultural issues (HeriocNews.org).  She is actively involved in the Archdiocese of Denver, speaking and writing on matters of bioethics, human sexuality, contraception, and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. A graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, she and her husband David reside in Denver with their young family.

View all articles by Jenny Uebbing

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November 23, 2014

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