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What I expect when she’s expecting

Note: I first wrote this a while ago and couldn’t publish until now. Just to clarify.


It’s New Year’s Eve. My girlfriend and I are in Santiago, Chile, a solid 9500 km from our family and friends. We’ve been living here for nearly 2 (very long) months. She, my 3-month pregnant girlfriend, wants to indulge a little on this beautiful, 27 degrees celsius evening (80.6 fahrenheit for others) with some sushi and champagne.

It is too hard to say no. It both tastes and feels wonderful.

Why am I even mentioning this? I would not say I’ve devoted too much time to investigating the rules of pregnancy. I leave that to her (she does an excellent job). She keeps me posted on what she can and can’t do, and I always oblige and support.

Alcohol and raw fish are 2 offenders on the long list of substances to be avoided.

It all makes sense intuitively – fetal alcohol syndrome and parasites (and mercury poisoning) are especially dangerous to a vulnerable little fetus.

Other foods to avoid, the short list, which you can probably add dozens to); salmon, deli meats, blue cheese, fresh milk, shellfish, caffeine, sprouts, hot dogs – that all fall on a scale of no-to-depends-on-who-you-ask-or-where-you-are-from.

Our doctor seems to say no to everything, though he is allowing us to go to Machu Picchu.

Her father says a little alcohol is not a problem, as well as suggesting the baby listens to loud classical music. I’ve fed him a steady dose of Kendrick and Death Grip.

Then there’s the study that suggests that not only is alcohol okay (in moderation) but Danish children whose mothers’ had a drink once in while, actually grew up to be more emotionally balanced.

That’s on top of the Japanese who have the incredible luxury of being encouraged to eat fresh and raw fish – because it is considered very healthy for their kids on that side of the world!

As the common refrain goes, people have been successfully giving birth for thousands of years without the internet. How could they have possibly known about all the different rules? Anyone who has been pregnant has had to consider these things and has had to choose to ignore them or play on the safe side.

At what point can we take on a little risk in the pursuit of a smidgen of instant gratification? On the other hand, what if that piece of nigiri will be that one thing that causes things of which I dare not speak? How will I live with myself? What if that one sip of alcohol somehow goes straight to the baby’s brain?

The joys of parenthood I guess…At the end of the day, the fragile existence we’re creating will be vulnerable. There will always be the stairs, plug outlets, the neighbour’s pitbull…I’ll stop there. We don’t need to make anyone even more worried.

The baby-proofing starts the moment the test comes back positive, and stops…well never, extending much longer than infancy.

But how much baby-proofing is the golden question.

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of a crying child, or the scrapes bumps and bruises, or even analysing the kids poo. (update: now I have, it’s not a pleasure)

It seems like an inevitable part of it. And perfect control is never possible.

So given that there seems to be little scientific consensus or absolutes beyond avoiding excess (moderation is agreed upon in much of the world and even highly recommended), let’s be happy and celebrate, if not as much as we worry, closer at least.

I do not suggest at any point drinking any hard alcohol, or even drinking a daily glass of wine, but if we are out to dinner on a Friday night, a glass of wine to take off the edge will probably do more good than harm.

The fetus is vulnerable. If something is questionable to your own health, it is likely magnified by many factors in it’s tiny heart that’s beating 170 times a minute.

At the end of the day, I defer to my girlfriend. She’s spending plenty of her time investigating the intricacies of pregnancy. I won’t tell her what to do, but will support and not try to influence her to do anything she’s uncomfortable with.

I will insist that we occasionally have glass, turn up the volume and dance all over the apartment.

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