The unsolicited advice, that is. And it's already making me paranoid.
Rob and I spent last night visiting a couple of his old friends. Their second child was born three days ago, and we brought them dinner as admission to The Newborn Show. Mama and Papa both seemed glad to have the company, and as we talked about moving and home improvement and families, it came up that Rob and I are planning to start our family in about six months.
That's when the advice started: this hospital, that school, definitely don't move there, and, "Are you a vegetarian?" Mama asks, narrowing her eyes at my plate.
"Well, I just ask because if you want to get pregnant...blahblahblahblah-really bad idea-blahblahblah-enough protein-blahblah-make sure you're not anemic-blahblahblah-the problem with leafy green vegetables like spinach-blahblahblahblah-most people rely on soy, which is terrible if you're trying to get pregnant..."
I kept quiet, biting the insides of my cheeks, listening to this lecture about how babies of vegetarian mothers fail to thrive, and how I would be ruining my children's teeth if I didn't add dairy to my diet while I was pregnant, and how, on a vegetarian diet, I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting enough protein for a growing baby. I tried to remember that although Mama had worked with doctors, she herself was not a doctor or a nutritionist. I tried to remember that many people are biased against vegetarian diets for any number of reasons. Still, I couldn't help feeling scared.
I started to wonder if she was right. While I had read lots of very positive-sounding information on the Internet about pregnancy nutrition for vegans, I also remembered that the Internet can be a giant holding tank for crap. After all, if I could use WebMD to diagnose myself with prostate cancer, how could I be sure that any of what I had read in my preliminary pregnancy-nutrition research was worthwhile?
But this afternoon, while scouring the Internet for more information on vegetarian nutrition, and scanning through the local library's on-line catalog for anything even remotely relevant, I forced myself to put my fear on hold. I could easily see how an expectant mother might be driven crazy with all of the information and advice she received - especially the unsolicited advice. If I couldn't find a way of filtering the information I received, I was going to trap myself under all of the confusion and doubt. I might start to feel like I couldn't trust anything I heard or read.
I reminded myself: You are not the first woman who has wanted to remain a vegetarian before, during and after her pregnancy. It can be done, and done healthfully.
Gut-level wisdom that I need to remember throughout this process: you are not the first. Hell, even if I were the first, that would be all the more reason learn as much about my health as possible, and gather information for myself.
And that's the first bit of advice I'm going to follow.