Great Expectations: Elizabeth @ 9 Weeks

We'd like to introduce you to our newest Great Expectations blogger, Elizabeth, who is 9 weeks pregnant with her first baby. Welcome and congratulations, Elizabeth!

Archer Great Expectations - post 1 picture.jpgHi, I’m Elizabeth and I’m nine weeks pregnant. My husband Carson and I live in Mendocino County in Northern California; I work for a non-profit and he is a firefighter and beekeeper.

Despite trying to get pregnant since September, it happened totally by accident. We "weren't trying" because I didn't want to risk a Christmas baby. Carson’s birthday is December 18 and mine is January 5, and we both agree that it's not ideal being born so close to the holidays (although I do love being a pragmatic, organized Capricorn). We also didn't really want a kid to get stuck with one of our birthdays. Wouldn't you know it? The month we "took off" was the month we conceived, and I'm due in mid-January. My mom's first grandkid (my nephew) was born on her wedding anniversary, and she'd love the second to share her January 12 birthday. Anything after January 5 will make me a 35 year old first-time mom, just barely "high risk"!

Right now only a handful of people know about our pregnancy. It feels like the most wonderful and weird secret to have to keep. The very day of my pregnancy test, a co-worker came into my office and shared her own good news – she's due in November. It was all I could do not to exclaim, "I'm knocked up too!" But other than the conventional wisdom that says to wait until week 12 before sharing widely, there's something appealing about not being “open to the public” just yet. For starters, I really, really dislike it when people call women “mom.” If she didn’t birth you, don’t call her mom! I also don't care for the kind of small talk that requires answering the same questions over and over, and I'm already strategizing how to kindly convince my co-workers not to ask me daily how I'm feeling, or what I'm having, or if I'm going to breastfeed or vaccinate or quit my job, or any one of a hundred other questions.

I only plan to have one child, and I feel like this pregnancy is my one shot to help change the culture of the public appropriation of pregnancy. A friend of mine has advised me to use what I think is a brilliant response to any unwanted question: "Isn't it strange that you would ask me that?" Said with the right tone, this can be playful or withering, funny or serious. I hope that no matter what tone I use, people will think twice before asking a pregnant woman another inappropriate question like how much weight she has gained.

That's all blissfully in the future, however. I still have three weeks before I put my "unwanted question armor" on, and I'm using that time to devour books and enjoy my relatively svelte figure. I have a short torso so there's nowhere to go but out – I know I'll be waddling sooner rather than later. As soon as I told my mom she took me shopping, and she has promised me that I’ll be wearing those oh-so-comfy maternity jeans sooner rather than later.

So far I have two favorite books: "Expecting Better" by Emily Oster, and "Common Sense Pregnancy" by Jeanne Faulkner. I have one simple way to determine if I will read a pregnancy book: what does it say about alcohol? Most countries in the world – and most studies on the subject – agree that having a drink every now and then has no measurable impact on your baby. The books, doctors, and other sources that insist on abstinence do so because one drink is OK but three is not. They worry that if you give them an inch, expectant mothers will take a mile. It’s a troubling conception that pregnant women can't be trusted to make the right decisions about their health and the health of their child. All the books I read are based in common sense, not preachy rhetoric.

In case you couldn't guess, I have not given up drinking. In the four weeks since I found out I was pregnant, I have had two glasses of wine. I've also eaten sushi and soft cheese, and I'm still drinking coffee at my usual rate of about 8 ounces a day. In every way I am approaching pregnancy in the least alarmist way possible. I want the lowest level of intervention I can get away with, and will only do the state-mandated and other standard blood tests (plus one to find out the gender and to rule out several chromosomal abnormalities). I won't have an ultrasound unless it is medically imperative. If – like the majority of women – I have a normal, uncomplicated labor, I will deliver at our local birthing center under the care of midwives and without drugs. And if something does go wrong, our excellent hospital is a very short drive away.

I should add that I’m also doing everything I can to keep this baby healthy. I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins since September; I eat tons of fruits, veggies, and lean protein; and I don’t make any decision lightly or without research. One day when I had a terrible headache I finally gave in and called a nurse’s hotline to find out what painkiller I could take. We are usually an aspirin household, so I called a friend and asked her to bring me acetaminophen. “Like Advil?” she asked. “No!” I shrieked. “IT HAS TO BE TYLENOL!” Suffice to say, she was one of the first to learn of our happy news when she showed up 10 minutes later, confused and with Tylenol in hand.

So, that's me and my pregnancy in a nutshell. I will continue to write every two weeks until I deliver what I hope and pray is a healthy, happy baby. 

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