I once read a famous celebrity comment on her impending motherhood. She hoped having children would make her less selfish. I suppose that’s one way to look at it; and it seems to begin immediately, of course, because having children means giving up a lot of things and a lot of changes of behaviour right away. The list of “avoids” and “limits” and “must-dos” during pregnancy seems to grow longer each time you read up on it.
No beer; no vodka on the rocks. No margaritas. Your body is in a progressive state of discomfort from month one through to month nine. You’re under some of the most intense stress you’ve ever experienced, and you are spending extended periods of time talking about incredibly personal things related to your body with complete strangers. All of this and not a single drink is deemed okay by conventional modern medicine. Great timing. But sure, everyone knows you have to get on the wagon when you’re pregnant. No biggie, right?
Sandwich meats, soft-serve ice cream, runny eggs, pineapple, soft cheese. All things I didn’t know I’d miss. Early in my pregnancy there was a ban on romaine lettuce, which was the only banned food I didn’t mind not having. It turns out I can give up salad, no problem. But the absolute worst sacrifice for me has been sushi. Oh how I miss the delicious morsels of raw fish! For the first time in my life I’m able to eat enough to properly take advantage of all-you-can-eat sushi, and I can only have the vegetarian kind? This is an outrage!
On the flip side, it seems the rules about what you should be eating are even worse. I have found myself in the grocery store many times reading and re-reading which fish varieties are the safest (and least likely to turn the babies into mad hatters) while providing the much-needed oils and fats. Eat a balanced diet, and lots of healthy foods, the doctors will tell you, but don’t eat too much or gain too much weight, and definitely, do not drink fruit juice. Next, you’re buying a pair of maternity pants and they slip a pamphlet into the shopping bag with a guide to which power-foods you must be eating weekly. It will definitely say fruit juice. To properly meet the requirements of any motherhood website’s food guide you’d need a personal chef and a flowchart to get the nutrients and rules just right.
And then there’s the other things you don’t know you’ll miss until they’re gone. Like sleeping on your back, talking about your career instead of your growing belly, or going into hot tubs. I swear I’ve had ten opportunities to go in a hot tub in my entire life combined, and then ten thousand opportunities since being pregnant – all of which I have had to turn down.
This is, of course, is the early training for the next wave of things I’m about to give up: sleep, free time, long showers, personal space, and a tidy home. Being selfish with my free time. On the upside, at least I’ll be able to gorge myself on sushi and have a cold beer.