Family Wellness

Got folate? I think so…

After Micah and I got married, we marched out to Barnes & Noble (or more accurately, I made Micah join me on a trip to B&N) and perused the “what to expect…” classic series on parenting. Due to the absence of the title we were really in need of “What to expect when you are thinking maybe you might want to think about expecting” – seriously can you jump on writing that book please…it would be a best-seller, instead we settled on “What to expect before you’re expecting: The complete preconception plan” I know, a must read full of titillating knowledge and inspirational anecdotes. Or not.

Some may find this literary gem informational, guiding, perhaps even exciting to read. I find it stressful, useful and a little odd. It is full of informational gems like bicycle riding longer that 10 miles a day is bad for sperm count, green tea decreases the effectiveness of folic acid…and my favorite, a very progressive section entitled, “Say No to Pot Before You Say Yes to Baby” – yes folks, this is a real section on page 19 if you do not believe me – right after the perils of smoking and just before the benefits of exercise. Genius. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but if you actually need to read that section – you probably should NOT be considering having a baby.

Immediately after reading it, I took stock of my nutritional, environmental, and medical state of being. I need more protein or my babies will be mentally deficient – can’t be diluting my genius…cue the re-entry of chicken breast into my diet (organic, free range, vegetarian fed of course). I can no longer drink the possibly chromium laced tap water, but filtered water doesn’t get rid of everything, and the plastic in bottled water sources has been shown to leach into the water…cue stress – which is better, chromium, traces of chromium or traces of Bisephenal whatever it’s called that comes from the water bottles? ugh. And what about Micah’s diet, he has a really crappy diet. And the book says that it takes 6 months to make a sperm, so he needs to eat super healthy and probably not drink alcohol or caffeine for at least six months. And he should exercise – they say healthy bodies make healthy babies. Cue a really cranky, detoxing Micah – however he has been working out more which is not bad on the eyes or the energy level….

And what about folic acid? The book says if you don’t take it for at least 3-6 months prior to conception, your baby can have brain defects. The book even recommends for optimal results to take for at least a year…what? Do I need to wait a year so my baby isn’t stupid? He or she is already going to be dealt a short hand in the mathematics department (see previous post…never leave home without a calculator). Can I be responsible for more intellectual deficiencies? And the guy at whole foods says folic acid is better than folate, or was it folate is better than folic acid? Are they the same? What’s the difference? I went ahead and bought just folic acid, but the pills were gigantic and you had to take like 11 a day (slight over-exaggeration, emphasis on the slight) which is ridiculous – I should have read the fine print. Those are now in the junk drawer (saved them for a rainy day when I’m out of the others, or the next time I decide to clean out the junk drawer). I returned to Whole Foods to buy another kind – this time an all natural prenatal vitamin (soy, dairy, gluten, nut free) and only 1 pill necessary a day. However, those were also disgusting and I kept forgetting to take them. So I went to Target and got the gummy ones loaded in sugar (I get to take two and they taste like candy coated in more candy). So now I have folate, or folic acid, or one of the two. And I often remember to take them, since they taste like diabetes. However, every time I take them I am flooded with guilt and fear because I am also likely working on a healthy dose of pre-diabetes from the sugar content in them. But hey, my body is stocking up on the big F. And that’s all that matters right? I thought I was doing good – calendared out about 6 months from the start date of the F consumption so I know that at that point we can safely consider having intelligent babies. And then I talked to Heather.

Heather is one of my best friends in the world, bridesmaid at my wedding, childhood pal, and source for all things medical. Being uninsured for most of my adult life (basically until Micah and I were married in September), and having gone to medical school and graduated rather successfully, Heath is my go to for all things medical. I am her favorite hypochondriac, and she often quiets my internet induced fears that I have Ebola, or an impending Brain Aneurism, or more recently Leukemia – I’m still not 100% convinced I am not dying. So I was sharing with her all my lovely pre-baby research, freaking out about how I will never be ready, worrying about how to avoid having a baby with some sort of horrible defect caused by my inability to consistently take prenatal vitamins, avoid an occasional glass of wine and a cup of coffee. That is when she hit me with a nugget of knowledge that I am still deciding if I think is genius or idiotic. Her words, not mine “Pre-natal vitamins are for rich white people”.

Hmm…yeah…chew on that one for a second. Basically I want to believe her, all the evidence it would seem points in her defense. Poverty stricken crack babies are born daily – many of them perfectly healthy. We have all seen 16 and Pregnant – those babies are totally healthy. And let’s not forget, my favorite of all – the “I didn’t know I was pregnant till the baby came out” babies – again, often totally healthy. She may have a point – it is totally possible to have a perfectly healthy baby while ignoring all the should and should nots. When I forget to take a prenatal for several days, or decide to finish a bottle of wine, or enjoy a nice, hot, heavily caffeinated cup of joe in the morning, I remind myself of these ‘crack’ babies, ‘child’ babies and ‘I just thought I was fat’ babies. But, I’m not gonna lie, the rest of the time, I freak out that something I do, or don’t do is going to set my future baby up for failure. I guess that’s what parenting is about or something. Perhaps in 5 years I will repost some parental brilliance about how you can’t protect them from everything…yadda yadda blah blah blah. But in the meantime, I will continue to freak out about organic vegetables, mercury content in fish, and whatever other nonsense exists.

Occasionally I pick up “what to expect..” But most of the time it is an anxiety ridden reminder of all the anxiety to come once we do decide to try to have a baby. But in the meantime, I divert my stress to the age old debate…to baby or not to baby….that is the question?

to be continued….


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  • Melissa
    March 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I want you to know that I absolutely love reading your posts! And I was the worst with prenatal vitamins – they made me puke, so I didn’t take them, and Lucy…well…you see how cute she is! 10 fingers, 10 toes, 1 head, standing up in her crib at 7 months…very athletically advanced. Oh, and she can change my husband’s facebook status on the ipad…so I agree with your friend Heather (also the name of my BFF!)