Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why I am Moving into a Bubble

When I'm tired at work, I tend to keep to myself: just stand at my window, help customers, and go online. When I'm in a good mood, I run around cleaning, organizing, stocking things; I sing to my coworkers, dance. I hate to say it, but I think they vastly prefer the tired, sad, and/or distracted me. Oh, well.

Why am I cutting out coffee? That is an excellent question with a meandering, complicated answer. In general, I tend towards the 'all things in moderation' school of thought: a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a can of tuna once in a while isn't going to do any harm. It sort of flows with the idea that women have been conceiving, carrying babies, and giving birth for ages with a surprising success rate. Nature's plan is a pretty damn good one, all things together. It would probably take an awful lot to dislodge a healthy pregnancy or mess up a baby. If drinking wine or beer were that detrimental, countries like France and Germany would have more problems than they do with maternal and fetal health. If coffee were that good of a contraceptive I would never have gotten pregnant, much less twice--or even be here myself, for that matter, because my mom's a coffee fiend. So a little bit of everything plus a lot of the good stuff-- fruits and veggies, beans and rice-- should be the perfect recipe.

Except. I've got two completely unexplained miscarriages under my belt and the urge to be extremely careful is overwhelming. The more common causes of miscarriage-- low progesterone levels, thyroid levels, blood clotting issues-- I've been tested for already; no answers there. So I'm left with the more nebulous, less-proven, potential miscarriage triggers. Seemingly inconsequential things like, say, soy suddenly loom large and menacing: did you end my pregnancy? Statistics like "shown to cause a 4% increase in chance of miscarriage" don't seem so meaningless and subjective as they did a year ago.

For me, it's emotionally easier now to just play everything extra safe than to try to justify the safety of various elements in the face of loss. It's hard to play the hmm-what-caused-this game, especially as a couple. We each have theories. Neither of us realized that Don's smoking increases my risk of miscarriage by a statistically significant amount. I have my dark suspicions about that. He has his own, namely that we got pregnant again too soon after the first miscarriage.

So I'm cutting out the caffeine for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm trying to amp up my nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, you name it. After having been through that first trimester a couple of times, I know that I'm in no shape then to worry about eating well. It will be beneficial to have spent the month (or months) prior to getting knocked up ingesting plenty of calcium, folic acid, Vitamin D, iron, etc. so that I have some reserves to fall back on. Caffeine has a nasty way of actually leaching calcium from the bones, as well as blocking the absorption of other nutrients. Pregnancy favors the fetus, so if the mother (i.e. host organism) is not ingesting enough of a certain nutrient, it gets taken from whatever reserves she has; getting more than adequate calcium prior to and during pregnancy protects her bones and teeth from being sacrificed to the growing embryo. Same goes for every other nutrient, really, and caffeine can screw with those so that even if you're taking vitamins and eating your fruits, you may not be absorbing the nutrients from them as well as you would sans coffee. Second, caffeine has been linked (albeit inconclusively) to decreased conception; that is, couples in controlled studies took longer to concieve on average when caffeine was involved. Don and I have been trying to start a family for about one year, now. The first pregnancy took about four months to get started and I don't want to do anything to lengthen those odds this go-round-- even something as small as my morning latte. Caffeine has also been linked (also inconclusively) to increased risk of miscarriage. I think another miscarriage might send me 'round the bend, so best to just switch to Pregnancy Tea and be done with it rather than taking even the smallest risk.

So out with the coffee. Out with the plastic water bottles, steaks cooked medium-well, and every other risk that is hardly even a risk. For most of it (except the EVIL CIGARETTES of Don) I don't even think there's real danger. It's just to make myself feel better, and in the worst-case scenario, to rule out potential causes.


ayla said...

Well, if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad. Don should definitely quit smoking though. I did it five years ago. I'm willing to share secrets with him.

Bella said...

I agree. Don, I know how hard it is, I too smoked.. but come on! For the sake of your un-born child and the happiness of your wife, to quit smoking is really a small sacrifice. Ok, done with the lecture.

AuntSally said...

Hey Mara,
Don't want you to think we're not reading your blog. I try to keep up with you as often as I can. Hope all goes well in the next few months. Oh, and my apologies for taking sooo long to get the sweaters I promised off to you. I haven't forgotten you. Have just had too many irons in my fires! Will try to get a package off to you in the next few days. Good luck with the coffee. Can you drink decaf? I had to learn to accept it, if I was going to ever have coffee again, when my inner ear problem was diagnosed. Have now been a responsible decafe-drinker for the past two and one-half years. Pretty good, huh?
PS...Do tell Don to stop smoking, for his sake as well as anyone else's. It's just not worth it in the long run.