Sunday, February 18, 2007

The only thing to fear...

The American tradition of instilling fear in people is thriving in the study of pregnancy. Eating fish may cause developmental delays -- but if you don't, your kid may have poor verbal and social skills. If you conceive in the spring, your baby may be premature. If you're black, you're three times as likely to have a preemie. If you do IVF, your risk of birth defects is higher. Heightened sensitivity to hormones may cause miscarriage, and remember that whole vaginal birth thing that's been working for millions of years? It may cause brain hemorrhages.

It's a wonder anyone gives birth to healthy babies at all -- except, wait, that's what happens the majority of the time.

All of this fearmongering (and I'm not exaggerating -- pretty much all of the stories linked above were published in the last 30 days) brings us to our latest subject of our book club, Angela Wu's Fertility Wisdom. I bought Wu's book when I started seeing Acupuncturist #2, and
at first found Wu's explanations comforting. She prescribes a strict diet, a lot of rest, Qi Gong exercises, and even wearing red underwear (if your constitution is cool, warm it up, etc.).

All interesting stuff, and Wu is highly regarded in the Bay Area for her ability to help women get pregnant. But it's easy to be scared reading her book -- she argues that you can't follow her plan just 75 percent of the way, as you can't be 75 percent pregnant. She tells the story of Marcia and Bill, who tried for 13 years to get pregnant. Wu told Marcia to cut out sweets, wheat, and dairy:
"Everything went well until the third month. It was Marcia's birthday and, frustrated after months of the 'deprivation diet,' she wanted cake. Bill gently reminded her of their priorities: Wasn't all the progress they'd made -- and the hope of the baby they'd wanted for 13 years -- worth more than cake? With Bill's help, Marcia overcame her craving, and by the end of the 3rd month, she was pregnant."
If you try everything Wu advises and don't succeed, she suggests that you look deep within yourself
"to your true feelings about having a baby. Are your Three Treasures -- head, heart, and gut -- powering your efforts, or might old feeling be blocking your access to the one resource every infertile couple needs: hope?"
That's right, I forgot -- it's always our fault. I feel so much better now.

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