View from the Hill
LOS ANGELES—When I look at my precious 10-year-old sons, I marvel at their innocence and beauty. I let my finger trace clusters of freckles near their noses. Then I usually thank God they are finally asleep.
After we got married in our mid-20s, my husband talked about the idea of having children, but I managed to hold him off for a few years. Then, toward the end of 1998, for the first time in over 10 years together, I took a good look at him.
I asked myself if I was OK with our children possibly inheriting his Fred Flintstone feet. I also took a long look at his family’s medical history. Lucky for him, I did not have an aversion to ethnic Jews and his family's propensity to argue. We also went over my family’s medical history, and coming from Irish Catholics as far back as the Ice Age, I had my own fair share of dubious traits to pass on.
In the end, we were both OK with what we might pass on to our children and decided to give parenthood a try around June 1999.
“That means we should start cleansing six months beforehand,” I told him.
“Cleansing?” he asked. “I already took your advice and stopped eating anything with partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. What more do you want?"
“I will prepare a lovely and healthy little space for your baby. That means, way ahead of time, I will stop drinking alcohol and caffeinated products. I will stay away from secondhand smoke. I will stay away from anything that is bad for pregnant women such as feta cheese and reality television. I will start taking prenatal vitamins.”
“Sounds reasonable,” my husband said.
“Yes,” I replied. “But what about you?”
“What about me?” he asked.
“The man is just as important beforehand and I’d like you to be as healthy as possible.”
He sighed, rubbed his eyes and said, “What do I have to give up now?”
“It’s good you don’t drink anyway, so that’s one less thing to adjust to. Let’s see. You will have to stop drinking coffee and stop taking those stomach meds.”
We both stared at each other.
“We don’t know for sure that cleansing helps us get pregnant, carry a healthy fetus or produce a healthy child,” he said.
“Right,” I said. “But we know for sure it can’t hurt.”
“Do antacid tablets count?” he asked.
“Great. Then we’re going to have to do something about your cooking.”
In less than three minutes, I had his buy-in. He wanted a healthy child as much as I did. We visited our primary care physicians and were given the green light. After six months of cleansing, my husband and I were finally ready.
I got pregnant right away and five months later, we went to the doctor for our sonogram and discovered twins.
But there were a few complications: I dealt with a premature delivery, carpal tunnel syndrome, gestational diabetes, a horrendous body rash, preeclampsia and a nose that spread across my cheeks and into my ears. As for my husband, he suffered through seven months of looking at me.
Despite it all, our children were born healthy and thank goodness they have no known disabilities. Sometimes friends and family will mention all the early roadblocks, gaze at our brilliant and beautiful children and say, “You were lucky.”
Perhaps. But our thorough vetting process, preparations and choices provided our children with the best possible start. Our good health made it possible to get pregnant and produce not one, but two kids who, though born premature, are able to run, jump, keep up in class and argue with me.
There's no proof cleansing helped, but, at the very least, we know it didn’t hurt.
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