I took the pregnancy test because I was thinking about having sushi for dinner. A month later, at my first doctor’s appointment, my OB would rattle off a brief list - no alcohol, no smoking, no raw fish - quickly, as if I already knew the rules. And of course I did. I’m 36; I’ve had a long time to pick up this kind of knowledge.
But still, in those first few weeks, I Googled. They say not to Google, but I Googled all the time. My body had never been a thing I could control, but now even much less so. It had been reassuring to feel just like there were methods to regulate that which was happening within me, though what I came across was mainly inconclusive. Why was I abruptly having extreme cramps? Google stated this was totally regular but also an indicator of an ectopic being pregnant. (I was fine. )
I also Googled skincare. I simply had a hunch. Much like all medical Googling, I came across nothing definitive but a lot alarming. Accutane may cause significant birth defects, but I was wading in murkier, over-the-counter topical waters. Different websites that seemed practical enough told me I will prevent artificial fragrances, phthalates, retinoids, chemical substance exfoliants, and essentially every ingredient in regular nail polish. I understood these recommendations were probably hyperbolic - if they were serious, I assumed, my doctor would mention them, and she never did - but I saw an opportunity, or a perverse challenge.
I was too nauseous to start eating ten servings of vegetables a day or go to yoga. But I could shop on my computer from bed. I replaced my glycolic acid toner with soft muslin washcloths, which I used to rub unscented, gentle cleanser in small circles on my face. I bid farewell to Buffet and took the opportunity to finally indulge in an order from the artisanal skin-care outfit I follow on Instagram (they’re also a goat farm). I bought myself “elasticity serum” for my face and belly - belly, a word I never used to refer to my own body before. It might not do anything but it smells like spearmint, and I felt like I was anointing myself every morning.
Eventually, I’d learn that even those basic dietary restrictions my doctor rattled off are hardly settled science. After more research, I’d bring sushi and wine back into my life. But even then, I wouldn’t rescind the skin-care product restrictions I embraced in the first few weeks of pregnancy. I liked them too much.
It turned out that the fragrance- free Alba body lotion I bought at Whole Foods left my skin the softest it has ever been. (Don’t tell me it’s not the lotion but the hormones. ) My new conditioner, free of parabins, SLS, petrolatum, artificial colors, and phthalates, smells so intensely and perfectly of apricots that I salivate every time I open the bottle. ( Excess saliva is also a pregnancy side- effect, but I really don’t think that’s what’s happening here. ) I come to bed freshly daubed, and my husband says I smell like Froot Loops.
I know pregnancy is about having a baby, but there’s no baby yet, simply my connection with this body and what sort of globe reacts to it. Every publication and forum and doctor got different rules. No alcoholic beverages, or a cup a night. One glass of coffee is good, or possibly three. Pseudoephedrine is okay, or it’s definitely not. Don’t rest on your own back. (This actually is backed up by study, and I’m still baffled by our bodies’ poor building. )
Simultaneously, most miscarriages have nothing at all to do with whatever you can control. Issues fail, genes twist, our anatomies fuck up. It’s terrifying, and you want to shield our babies however we are able to. I believe we also desire to protect ourselves, in the event issues do go badly, therefore we are able to say I didn’t perform anything wrong.
I needed that safety, but We also would have to be greater than a vessel while We waited nine - simply no eight, no 6, oh God - weeks for my entire life to inexorably modification. Sometimes that meant an individual glass of wines, or a tablet that could give me 4-6 hours of breathing through my nasal area. And sometimes it designed adopting an completely new, possibly intense skin-care routine. Like therefore many things associated with beauty, it’s not really rational, nonetheless it makes me content nonetheless.