Can we all judge the pregnant lady? You bet we can!

For the last few weekends, Jay and I have been staying home.  Part of that is just simply that we like to stay at home.  Both of us can be a bit reclusive and, while Jay especially has friends he likes to hang out with, he can go through periods where being around people just is just draining.  I suppose that means we do enjoy each other’s company, but it can also mean that we get in a bit of a rut and neither is good about helping the other pull out of it.  In addition to that, Jay is freelancing (and doing very well at it, I might add), so that means that he works from home. There is no going out into the world and dealing with other people daily.  He may take call and talk to people, but his entire commute is the distance from our bedroom to his computer.  This means that any kind of face to face interaction with other people besides Ezra and me (and this week, Greta) is rare.  He likes it that way for the most part, but it can get a bit isolating, I am sure. 

Jay and I live in the Smyrna/Marietta area north of Atlanta.  Jay has lived around here for over 8 years.  Varners Tavern is about 2 miles from our house.  I am not sure when they opened up, but I don’t think it was there when Jay and I dated in 2004.  However, in the 5 years since, it became Jay’s local hang out and watering hole.  It is tasty little bar/restaurant.  The food is pretty good, and anyone can come in the restaurant (I have seen plenty of families eating there on a Saturday or Sunday morning when we have come back to retrieve my car from the night before), but the bar is 21+ only.   It’s one of those Cheers type places where you know everyone around the bar and come in to shoot the shit on the weekends or play trivia on a Tuesdays or Thursdays.  In fact, on our first date in 2009 Jay took me to Varners for their Halloween party, where I got to meet all the friends and regulars.  We have been there plenty of times since and I think by now everyone knows my name instead of referring to me as Jay’s girl (not that I have a problem with that – I kinda like it, actually).  This is the place we go to watch SEC games and hang out.  But we have not been in a while. 

There is also another bar/restaurant close by in Smyrna Square called Atkins Park.  There is an original Atkins Park in the Virginia Highlands area near downtown going towards Piedmont Park.   I have not been to the original Atkins, but the one on the Square has wonderful food (the chef is from Louisiana – what else do I need to say?) and a nice little bar.  On Fridays and Saturdays they have a live band.  It is more expensive than Varners, but it is nice to mix it up a bit, ya know?  You can go there and have a really nice date night.  Delicious food followed by drinks and a live band starting at about 10p.  Usually the band does decent covers and I enjoy that.  I love live music and dancing.  (Jay has known this since the night we met at a nice little authentic Irish pub over in Roswell – he was there with friends, I was there for the music – the rest is history).  The morning after our Halloween date in 2009, Jay took me to Atkins for brunch.  I was hooked.  As a matter of fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about their Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict or the Crab Cake Benedict – I may have to talk Jay into taking me there for Sunday brunch this weekend. 

Finally, there is Dixie.  I took Starla to experience Dixie while she was here for the National Championship Game.  From what I understand, the Zac Brown Band got its start at Dixie and up and coming bands want to headline there constantly.  As a result, you can hear some pretty good covers of everything from Skinnard to Zepplin, Bon Jovi to Van Morrison… and everything in between.  The bands also have their own original stuff, too, and you never know if you may be listening to the next hit band and can one day say, “I saw them at Dixie when…”  Dixie is a bar – a shot pouring, pool playing, Galaga and Darts bar, complete with a haze of cigarette smoke.  And it is a blast…especially if you are a bit blasted yourself.  Luckily, it is a pretty cheap cab ride from home.  I actually drive past it almost every day on my way home from work.  I will tonight, as a matter of fact. 

Here is the but…I am pregnant.  Now, of course, no one can look at me and tell.  I am only a bit over 7 weeks at this point.  A few weekends ago Jay got down the Scattegories game and remarked how sad it was that we were sitting around playing board games alone on a Friday night.  I told him that we could go to Varners.  It was not like I was required to drink while we were there.  But he pointed out that it would raise a few questions when I ordered a virgin anything or a diet coke.  And he is right, it would.  No one knew I was pregnant at the time and that would let the cat out of the bag real quick-like.  Yes, it would certainly be strange to everyone there when I ordered a non-alcoholic beverage (maybe not the first one, but if there were no drinks at all by the end of the night, well, someone would ask something).  I could blow it off and simply say I was not in the mood, or I was the DD, of course, but it is no secret that I like my drinks (and if you are already judging me at this point, why are your reading my blog?) and we were just not ready to share the pregnancy with everyone.  So we stayed home. 

But not tonight.  I am bored.  I want to get out of the house.  Jay needs to get out of the house.  I want to hear a band.  I know that once the baby comes there will be no chances, without the extra expense of a babysitter, at least (or bribing Greta), to go out.  I may not be drinking, but my feet work just fine.  And, although, I may not dance as freely without alcohol, I can still keep a decent beat.  And I refuse to be one of those pregnant women for whom all fun stops once you have a positive pregnancy test.  I don’t need to drink to have or be fun.  I don’t need alcohol to dance (although it can loosen one up considerably).   We may not make it as far as Dixie (I am pregnant-tired a lot right now, and have very little stamina), but Atkins sounds doable – not that Dixie is off the table.  I am not going to be a pregnant woman who spends so much of her time so focused on her pregnancy that she looses herself.  I can and will keep this baby safe and grow him well. I will never jeopardize my child, and certainly not for my own selfish entertainment, but I won’t turn myself in to a stick-in-the-mud shrew, either.  Besides, I am getting married in Auburn just over 6 weeks – and if you think that is not going to be an occasion for a party, you are out of your mind.    There is NO WAY we don’t wind up in a bar in Auburn listening to a band. 

So this brings me to my question – and rant.  Can a pregnant woman go out on the town sober and enjoy a live band or be in a bar?  This is a serious question.  If she is perched over there chain smoking and having her 4th whisky neat while rubbing her protruding pregnant belly, you may have a point, but just being in the bar?  Come on, people.  It is not like you have to be drinking or wasted to have a good time listening to a band.  If I am 7 months pregnant and someone gives me DMB tickets, I am going – just try to stop me.  Sure, there will be plenty of drinking, smoking and probably a good bit of weed and flashing of boobs, but am I not supposed to go and have a good time because I am pregnant?  Are we saying that you cannot have a good time out on the town sober?  Are we saying that a pregnant woman should just sit at home and let her guy go out and drink with friends while she sits at home alone reading a book – or, even worse, he cannot go out because she “can’t?” 

I call bullshit.  Utter bullshit.  The only thing I will give you in any of the above scenarios is that in most bars she will be exposing herself to second hand smoke.  Second hand smoke is dangerous to everyone – including unborn babies.  And it is very taboo for any pregnant woman to put herself in a position to catch a whiff of cigarette smoke. I cannot imagine that a pregnant woman would be brave (or stupid) enough to actually smoke in public while pregnant.  But I think we take things a bit too far in our culture.  If it is a lot is bad, then ANY AT ALL is bad.  I don’t plan on living in a smoking restaurant or bar and this baby will not have a low birth weight or get cancer from an occasional night of exposure to second-hand smoke.  If Jay were chain smoking on the couch next to me for the next 7 months, that would be a problem, but he isn’t. Yet we have turned other people’s decisions into our own business.  Here is one question I found online:  

“I’m about 10 weeks pregnant and my husband and I were out celebrating our friend’s birthday. The restaurant was pretty free from smoke during the evening but began to turn into more of a bar environment with more and more smokers as the night progressed. Not to raise any suspicion, since we have not shared the pregnancy news yet, we tried to position ourselves away from any smokers in the room but at the end of the night it was unavoidable. When we felt that the smoke was too much, we left.

 I am concerned about the effects of being in a smoky environment for several hours while pregnant. I have not been around smoke up to this point and I don’t plan on it in the future but being there last night has made us nervous.

 ANSWER

It is unlikely that the amount of smoke you are talking about would do irreparable damage to your baby, so relax and enjoy your pregnancy!”

Look at the terms she used.  Good lord, when my mother was pregnant with me, there was no such thing as a non-smoking section.  I was born before smoking on airplanes was banned – and so were all of you.  Sometimes I think our society takes things too far.  God almighty, we love to judge each other, don’t we?  I remember when I was pregnant with Ezra, I ordered a pizza that had a soft cheese on it (goat cheese or brie, I think).  My friend pointed out that it was a soft cheese – and I was 6 months pregnant.  I really wanted that pizza.  It sounded divine and besides, the pizza would be cooked so I weighed the dangers and then ordered it.  And, I swear to God, my friend’s husband looked at me and said, “Well, SHE (my friend) would never chance that while pregnant.”  I didn’t know if he meant his wife would never dare do something so reckless because she was just a better mother than me or because he would never allow such a thing.  Either way, I was really glad he was not my husband.  And I relished every single bite.  Here is the scoop on soft cheese:  http://www.pregnantchicken.com/soft-cheese/

 It can get even worse. Here is another sad story:

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/01/20/pregnant-woman-kicked-out-of-a-bar-for-being-pregnant/

But there is a BIG difference between the above and THIS.  If you are pregnant, drunk and biting off someone’s ear, then someone needs to go ahead and call child protective services, because this kid is going to have one hell of a living environment. 

http://www.wpxi.com/news/15282866/detail.html

As I was reading the links above, I noticed in one of the comments that one woman was denied ordering a medium rare steak at a restaurant.  Really?  But then I also read a news story where there was a set up and an actress had a prosthetic belly, sat at a bar and ordered vodka shots.  The actor-bartender served her water (so she was neither pregnant nor drinking).  They filmed and critiqued the patrons’ reactions.  What were those reactions?  Silent judgment.  Everyone watched and everyone thought it was horrible and she was a terrible person.  They felt sorry for the unborn child who would have to be raised by such a mother.  Yet, while they said all of this to each other and, on a couple of occasions to the bartender, they said nothing to her directly.  I am not sure if I think someone should have said something or not, but I find it fascinating that this experiment was done.  What was it really trying to say?  That pregnant women pounding shots is bad?  No ground-breaking reporting there, we all know that.  I have met children who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and the idea that a mother could do that to her child is just as unfathomable to me as one who beats them black and blue – or Susan Smith or Andrea Yates.  But I think the news show that ran it was judging the patrons as much as the woman.  They spun it as if those people were shirking their moral responsibility by not speaking up to the woman directly.  Maybe they were.  Here is an idea.  A bar can reserve the right to refuse service – we have all seen the signs, right?  It is also prohibited by law from serving alcohol to minors.  I think an establishment could then refuse the pregnant mother alcohol, but not kick her out – come on.      

I have heard that pregnant women cannot pump gas (I LOVE that one, just ask Jay), cannot have sex, cannot use sex toys, garden (yep, you read that right.  A cat may shit in your garden and you will basically be cleaning a litter box, exposing yourself to toxoplasmosis – a big no-no) cannot color your hair (screwed up that one this past weekend), use a microwave, wear high-heals… and I cannot raise my arms over my head while pregnant because it will automatically wrap the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck.  This is getting so long, I cannot list them all – just go here and read.  I may even be able to have sushi! 

 http://www.pregnantchicken.com/home/

http://pregnantchicken.squarespace.com/smoking/

http://pregnantchicken.squarespace.com/alcohol/

Here is the thing.  If you are living a normal decent life with all things in moderation, then you should not have to make that many changes when you are pregnant.  If you get a bit drunk on occasion, you don’t want to do that.  If you smoke, you want to stop NOW, but no one should be smoking at all – we all know that – everyone I know who smokes wants to quit.  Add a prenatal vitamin and DHA supplement because you will need more nutrients since there are two of you sharing your body (and let’s face it, it is rare that anyone gets all the nutrients they need from food – we all should probably be taking a vitamin), don’t do anything that could raise your risk of bodily injury (hang-glide, get thrown from a horse, bungee jump).  In fact, if we all lived like we were pregnant and had someone else literally depending on us to make the right nutritional and health decisions, then we would all be healthier.  The main thing I take from everything I have read is that drugs are the biggest concern while pregnant.  Anything that alters your state of consciousness can probably harm a baby – at least that is my rule of thumb, so I cut out anything that falls in to that category. 

But unless something goes horribly wrong with this pregnancy, dancing and sex are in.  And I am going to have a good time tonight.  Judge away!

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