The title of this post is a bit misleading. It was actually more like twelve months. When we started trying to get pregnant, I began taking pre-natal vitamins and avoiding microwaves and deli meats. I read every book on pregnancy and followed virtually every recommendation, from abstaining from over-the-counter medications to sleeping on my left side. If I knowingly went against a recommendation, I not only felt guilty but also worried myself sick over the possible birth defects I could be causing. In my first trimester, I took a Gas-X to prevent what felt like an alien trying to explode from my lower abdomen. With the level of guilt I felt, it may as well have been high-ball.
I took gestation seriously. I remember going out to lunch with a co-worker (and mother of two) and telling her we couldn’t go to a deli because I couldn’t eat cold cuts. (Listeria, you know.) She looked at me like I was wearing Kleenex boxes on my feet. I remember walking with another co-worker downtown and scolding him for trying to cross against a light with a pregnant lady in tow. I’m certain I was insufferable.
I’m not sorry for being careful, but with all the hormones coursing through my body, an unfortunate side effect of being this diligent was that I blamed myself for any complication that arose. At twenty-eight weeks, I took the obligatory glucose tolerance test. I got a call that I’d need to take it again. The second test came back with border-line results so I took it a third time. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Ridiculously, I was devasted. Clearly, I was to blame for endangering my baby with a high birth weight. I cried in self-recrimination — even after reading that the cause is simply hormonal. I followed the guidelines laid out by my nutrionist to the letter, but my blood glucose levels were still too high. I flogged myself when I had to go on medication.
Looking back, I can see how needlessly obsessive I was. But could I have helped it? Probably not. Hormones will have their way with you and there’s no telling how they will manifest themselves. My husband once took a course of steriods to reduce some inflammation in his back and became a raging lunatic for four days. I took the opportunity of explaining that he was experiencing something akin to PMS. A cartoon lightbulb appeared above his head. And PMS has nothing on pregnancy. I should just be thankful the hormones didn’t give me the urge to go play in cat poop. (Toxoplasmosis, you know.)
What guidelines did you follow (or not) while pregnant?