Day late, dollar short
I was all set yesterday for a nice juicy post about two timely items of interest — coffee at my elbow, mind clear and focused, preschooler off at a job interview — and then a cheerful brace of workmen arrived to destroy my bedroom. (Leaky roof, bubbly drywall, mildewy insulation, recalcitrant insurer, bitter homeowner.) They are in there again today, banging and swearing and, for all I know, merrily buggering each other with the Sawzall; I am hiding in Charlie's room where the sound is somewhat muffled.
So, a day late, item one. Yesterday was Blog for Choice Day. I have always been pro-choice, and my own experience with infertility has made me more so. The difficulty we've had conceiving has made it necessary for us to reaffirm our decision at every turn: yes, we really want this. It makes it so easy for me to imagine the other side, to be exactly as certain that you don't want it. I ache for those who want it and can't have it, and I ache for those who have it and don't want it. How could I go to such lengths to pursue the kind of family I want if I didn't also support someone else's right to do the same?
A few years ago I followed the story of a woman who'd conceived a daughter via IVF, and discovered that the baby had Down Syndrome. She was clearly devastated by the news she and her family had received, and had made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
The reactions surprised me, though they shouldn't have. Just like with anything else — any issue, any group — there's no homogeneity of opinion among infertiles. Everyone offered support, but the support they offered took varying forms. Some simply shared her sorrow and said they were there to listen. Some told their own stories, from "I faced the same situation and terminated my pregnancy, too" to "I have a beautiful son with Down Syndrome and our life is rich and rewarding." And some expressed hope that she'd change her mind, going so far as to try to persuade her not to have an abortion, even offering to adopt the baby if she would carry her daughter to term.
This story has stayed with me, in part because, my God, the presumption, but also because it reminded me never to assume anything about infertiles' position on choice. To many, many infertile people, a baby is such a longed-for gift that they can't fathom not welcoming one, whatever the circumstances. But I can imagine otherwise. I am still hung up on the conviction that there can be right and wrong times in our lives for children, even for infertiles, and that the only people who deserve to decide when those times are, and what they're equipped to handle, are the ones who'll live with the repercussions. They must be honored. We must be.
...But, you know, brave words from a woman whose Ultrascreen — a screening for Down Syndrome, trisomy 18, and congenital heart defects — is on Friday.
Item two that was of timely interest earlier this week: A new study suggests that caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage: "The new study finds that pregnant women who consume 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the amount in 10 ounces of coffee or 25 ounces of tea — may double their risk of miscarriage."
I wish I'd gotten to this earlier because if ever there were a study that needed some holes poked in it, this appears to be one. But Catherine Price of Salon.com's Broadsheet got there first, and gave it such a poking that any lunges I might make with my own pointy stick would seem feeble indeed. So I'll just say that my strongest reservation about the study is that there appears to be a big causation vs. correlation problem here. Maybe, as Price and the Times article point out, the women in the study who'd sworn off coffee did so as a result of morning sickness, which is associated with healthier pregnancies to begin with. Maybe the increased caffeine consumption went hand in hand with other health-related risks that went unanalyzed in the study; the study's lead author says that they ruled out known risk factors like maternal age and smoking, but if a woman is consuming large amounts of caffeine, which is known to be mood-altering drug, who's to say she's not also, I don't know, living on unsteamed cold cuts and raw-milk raclette, or maybe mainlining toro? Or maybe the women who consumed more caffeine did so to contend with high levels of stress — and we all know stress contributes to miscarriage, right?
I haven't seen the study itself (and if anyone can lay hands on a copy to send me, I'd love to read it). But given the reservations I already have about it based on what I've read, and on another study that seems to suggest that at lower levels — say, a cup of coffee a day — caffeine has no apparent effect on one's risk of miscarriage, I will probably peruse it with my morning latte in hand. And that's the way I see it.
Oh, but no sugar in that latte, as I flunked the three-hour glucose tolerance test, as expected. Hey, so far everything's going exactly according to plan!
12 weeks today.