I have been meaning to cut back on activities that folks can use to judge my mothering and make more time to write about all the bad mommy things I have done, but then some other bad mommies suggested that I open an Instagram account. So, let me quickly tell you about how during my six+ pregnancies I managed to unknowingly or unaware-ingly eat everything pregnant people are not supposed to eat, and then I can return to posting pictures of the outcomes.
During my first pregnancy, I worked in a fine arts and crafts gallery where all but one of my dozen co-workers were women and there were several varieties of diets constantly occurring simultaneously among them. I had never been a dedicated dieter, rather I just exercised daily via my bike/walk/rollerblade commute and ate what I mostly wanted, but in that first pregnancy I was enjoying my opportunity to eat for two. A few times a day I would walk into the break room, of course always offering to share, with my daily indulgence in hand and mouth, such as a wheel of brie and a loaf of brioche. My svelte co-workers would groan and hasten out of the room; though on one occasion an entire family-sized tiramisu did manage to get eaten by someone(s) after I abandoned it back there.
I suppose it was because I was only the third employee to ever be pregnant at the gallery that none of my co-workers also got the Xeroxed hand-out that informed pregnant people which cheeses were and weren’t a no-no. Unpasteurized brie and especially its chewing moldy outer shell, according to some, should be avoided while pregnant. Though I would learn this detail postnatal, in a later pregnancy I would sort of forget or maybe just not being a caseiculturer I did not understand that the same theory applies to some soft goat cheeses which I more reservedly ate packages of in two sittings.
I’m not really sure what I was informed about smoked meats and nitrogen during this first pregnancy, but I was a newly quit vegetarian living two blocks away from the Pork Store and More. I ate a smoky, nitrogen-filled sandwich just about every day. In my third pregnancy, after having horrible morning sickness and food aversion while living overseas, I returned to the States and attempted to have a turkey sandwich from every delicatessen counter within a 30 minute drive of my house. Sandwich meat is a major childhood comfort food for me. At 40 years old, I still wish someone would learn how to make a porkfree bologna that tastes just like Oscar’s.
In the first pregnancy I was aware that I should go lightly on the tuna, and no doubt this is why I never indulged my craving curiosity about if water chestnuts would add an excellent crunch to tuna salad. And I must have been told something about the implied dangers of sushi because I hastened to a local sushi spot with my three day old newborn for a taste of what I had several months long missed out on.
I missed the boat about other potential dangers lurking in the deep, like, at the bottom. During that summer of my first pregnancy, my husband and I had our belated honeymoon/or only vacationish without children in the 17 years we have been married. We drove up and back down the east coast of the US, indulging on Americana brunch delights and all available varieties of seafood, except sushi and tuna, of course. When we hit Maine my husband was in near tears at the discovery of all-you-can-eat seafood buffets. I was baffled by why violently tearing lobsters open with my bare hands caused them to itch, and happily stuffed my face while my husband took over that messy task. While he turned on his heel at the first clam shack we came to and went over to order a burger from the “safer” fast food chain one parking lot over, I ordered three servings of fried clam necks knowing he would “just want to try one”. We then ate fried clam necks every time we happened upon a shack, let’s assume that was daily. In a subsequent pregnancy I would learn about bottom feeders and how those deliciously nasty little beasts troll the ocean floors eating any and all kinds of filth they happened upon, best to be avoided I was told.
Raw eggs? Probably, most likely. That tiramisu noted above was pretty authentic, so maybe. And homemade mayonnaise was standard for a time in the home I lived in with extended family in Morocco. Yes, it does taste better, but personally I don’t have the time/desire to stand there slowly drizzling my oil into my egg, or maybe it’s the other way around, but it is delicious and I am happy to eat it when someone else makes it.
Unpasterized juice? Probably, most likely. Again a standard thing in Morocco, but I also spent plenty of time and $$$ at juice bars in NY and Oregon during a couple of my pregnancies, so yes, very likely.
In my second pregnancy herbal “pregnancy” or “uterus” tea became a major staple of my diet. I would make 32 ounces daily, tucking it into the fridge to “ice” and drinking up all of the bottle I had made the day before. I LOVED that stuff. Now, in researching for this article, I found a few suggestions that women should avoid all herbal tea while pregnant. Really? Certain herbs are standard in many mama well-being diets, but instead of addressing how some herbs can maybe be dangerous during pregnancy, just use scare tactics and tell women to avoid all… I imbibed a lot of one of these herbs-to-avoid while pregnant. At some point in my bulk herb buying I began buying horsetail. No idea how, why, or when that happened, but I brewed it with my raspberry leaf, oat straw and all the other yummy, herby goodness I threw in the bottle, and I drank it for sometime during the end of my pregnancy.
It seems a lot of these foods-to-avoid in pregnancy have to do with concerns around potentially poor food handling situations. Others, like the tea, are… weird. And a part of this firm foundation of relying heavily and even solely on medical-professionals who are not as objective and know-it-all in their handlings as many of us like to think. Of course I am not suggesting that we take on wanton abandon while pregnant (or any other time) and nor am I doing that thing where I say something like “It was good enough for our moms!” Remember, many of our moms suffered through the pregnancy related brutalities of their time. In my 6+ pregnancies spanning nearly two decades I have learned that a lot of medical advice is like most advice: personal, subjective, contemporary but not based on long term findings.