After 10 years together, my husband and I are pregnant. Or I’m pregnant. It sounds too cutesy to say we, but it’s not happening to me alone. At the same time, I notice it’s only my alcohol intake that has dropped off dramatically.
Whatever the terminology, we got pregnant easily. Almost on a whim, we embarked on the birth control-free road thinking nature would give us a while to get used to the idea.
I thought it was just luck or possible infertility that kept me pregnancy scare-free for the last decade, but now that I know I can get pregnant so easily, I feel like a birth control rock star. I never knew how awesome I was at not getting pregnant.
In any case, within three months of going au natural I was dipping a pregnancy stick into a container of pee. Maybe Baby (my favorite product name ever) had us anxiously waiting five minutes to see if there was one line, two or the doomed inconclusive. Where there had been avid panic at the late period and pee process, during the wait I felt quite Zen. I grew increasingly confident that this was all for nothing. I wasn’t pregnant! I couldn’t be! I never had been before! I began planning a trip to the Spati (late night convenience store) to pick up something alcoholic.
When the five minutes were up, into the bathroom we trooped. My eyes refused to focus on the one, strong blue line that I was pretty sure meant pregnant, but now failed to make sense to my stunned brain. Equally shocked, my husband finally made the announcement, “We’re pregnant!” Plans for celebratory champagne were not only cancelled, but all drinking plans were delayed for at least nine months. I was stumped. How do you celebrate without bubbly?
Alcohol has been a constant companion for most of my adult life. Far from a necessity, it was a much beloved addition to social engagements, the essential ingredient for our many drinking games and a reason to get silly for no reason. I’ve crafted drinking tours of Berlin’s U-Bahn, planned whole trips around beer festivals and went all the way to Belgium on a beer run. My husband may be the only thing I’ve spent more time with. And now he and alcohol are continuing on without me.
I was almost as nervous about my first month without alcohol as I was about my first month as a mother-to-be. After doing some reading, this early stage of making a baby seemed pretty easy. Eat well, sleep lots, and don’t drink/smoke/do drugs or combat sports. But apparently my reputation precedes me as one of my mom’s first questions after tearful exclamations of joy was a tentative “You aren’t drinking…right?”
“Nope,” I replied. But, thanks for asking, mom.”
The biggest mistake I could have made was drinking before I knew I was pregnant. I was relieved to find this is a common question from omniscient Google auto-fill. While it is, of course, recommended you don’t drink when preparing to be pregnant, reality happens. My absolute favorite answer on the internet baby boards was the woman who admitted, “I found out I was pregnant because my hangover would not go away!” I took this to mean I was in the clear.
Going forward, I sought the answer to the question “Can you have a glass of wine occasionally … or it that just European liberalism?” As I was yet to have my first doctor’s appointment, I turned again to the all-mighty internet. Now this was some murky water. Although the safe answer is unquestionably don’t drink, the internet’s answer is undecided. It is well established that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects – but what about small amounts of alcohol? There haven’t been enough studies to provide conclusive results. Not surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of pregnant woman willing to volunteer their body and fetus to find out just how much alcohol is a “safe” amount to consume. And have no fears future grandparents, I am also opting out of being a test dummy for drinking while pregnant. It’s official booze, after a moment of denial, I am sadly saying goodbye for nine months.
Deciding to break up with alcohol includes having to tell my friends that I am a newly minted baby machine. As public as a Facebook break-up status, going out without a drink in hand is a clear sign to those that know and love me that something is amiss. Though I like to think my friends are more than just “party friends,” there is no doubt that booze is a tie that binds. And truth be told – coming out as a non-drinker was a little awkward. Avoiding booze at a dinner party was an immediate red flag – surprise pregnancy announcement necessary! St. Patrick’s Day Guinness special? No thank you, and another impromptu announcement that I had a bun in the oven. Being a teetotaler may as well be a sign around my neck that I am knocked up.
As for now, I am trying to figure this whole pregnancy thing out without the aid of booze. Only seven more months more to go.
[Photo from Shutterstock]