Even someone like me who isn’t particularly good with babies, who looks at them and says things like “Hey, buddy. Look at your little face,” before resorting to peek-a-boo and than running of out material, even I try to err on the side of caution when it comes to most chemicals. After years of wondering if I was cut out to be a mother, I’m relieved that the instinct to protect this baby is so strong, or at least the image of me smoking a Camel while sipping a Jameson’s as hair dye sets in and self-tanner absorbs is so shameful, that I figure all of my favorite chemicals can wait.
And I really love chemicals. I had no idea how much I took them for granted until now. I miss you, toxins.
Being pregnant has made me feel toward booze and Xanax and Retin-A the way Emily from “Our Town” felt about food, new ironed dresses, hot baths and milk delivered to your door. She didn’t appreciate the simple things in life until she returned as a ghost to Grover’s Corners, lived one day as her 12 year old self, and asked the question all pre-teen girls agonize over while performing Emily’s big monologue at theatre camp: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it?”
What I mean is that I never appreciated safe and guilt-free drug use until it was gone. Did I just compare not using Klonopin to dying? Is that overblown? Someone get me to Samuel French because I’m feeling dramatic.
I knew nicotine was bad. I quit smoking my two after-dinner puffy treats at 10 weeks or so. Though I was never John Wayne with the smokes, we went way back together, and I always thought letting go of one or two cigarettes would be easy.
Right now, I don’t want to smoke just a couple.
I want to sit in bed and chain-smoke high on half a Vicodin and watch a couple of documentaries from Netflix like I used to do on a Friday night when the mood struck. If smoking calms nerves, I’ve never been more nervous than I am about this baby, how he’s doing in there, how he is going to get out, when I’m going to ascertain the meaning of the word “layette” or make myself care about the best brand of disposable nipple pads. However, it’s comforting to know my first maternal instincts outweigh nicotine addiction and habit and several bassinets full of anxiety.
Chemicals, I can’t wait to return to you. Until then, here is a list of the top ten chemicals I miss:
Vicodin - Narcotics are bad. Except for the fact they produce a little something called euphoria. Listen, this drug is a highly addictive opioid that should be used only to manage severe pain. However, my definition of "pain" is a loose one.
Nicotine – C’mon. Smoking sucks. I get it. But how else are you supposed to know when dinner is over?
Booze – Nursing is going to mean something totally different, I know, but it used to be what I did to my glass of whiskey or single malt Scotch. What rounds out the edges now? Anyone who suggests a hot bath or meditating or chamomile tea is going to get punched in the face.
Retin-A – Who knows if this crap works, but they say it staves off breakouts and wrinkles and I have both right now as my prescription tube sits in the drawer, expiring.
Hair Color – I know, some say it’s okay to use, others say just get highlights, but let’s face it, who wants to sit in the salon all pregnant while women judge you for caring more about your roots than your spawn?
Klonopin – Relaxes muscles, reduces anxiety, helps you sleep, features a nice long half-life so you wake up fresh as a daisy and worry free. My favorite drug seemed so harmless until I read that when taken during pregnancy it may cause “floppy infant syndrome.” I don’t know what that is, and I don’t want to know.
Mystic Tan – Again, lots of pregnant girls do it and it’s probably fine. If you search long enough, you’ll find some Dr. Buzzkill to dissuade you from most delicious chemicals, as does OB/GYN Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz who says, “I tell my patients to avoid chemical tanning at the very least in the first trimester, when the majority of fetal organ formation occurs.” Ha, lady! I’m second trimester. Not so fast, she also adds that brain development continues throughout pregnancy and the skin is the largest organ in the body. Fine.
If there is a better way to gloss over the physical unpleasantries of being both pregnant and just generally over 30, I haven’t found it. DHA, IOU. And I miss you.
Advil – I never used this much, but now that I can’t I realize it was nice to have the option.
Artificial sweeteners – Equal, Splenda, Nutrasweet, saccharine, I don’t know what’s in you or which of you is better, but you all taste so chemical-y now. Half a Splenda in my decaf is my sweetener threshold before the guilt sets in, and that’s not like the three packs I used to enjoy in my cereal just for the fuck of it.
Caffeine – I have a decaf now and again, but some scary article I read when I was trying to get pregnant linked excessive coffee drinking with an increased rate of miscarriage. As losing the baby is the most non-stop, obsessive worry I’ve ever had, it seems like every caffeinated beverage is just a Miscarriage-a-ccino.