What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
If the way pregnancy is portrayed in media was the only way the general public learned what being pregnant was like, what we would believe is this: 1) You immediately puke, 2) You pee on pregnancy test and either sob on the floor or explode with joy, and 3) You can no longer indulge in alcoholic beverages, which is inexplicably horrible.
But in reality, as so many of us know, that’s not how it goes. Sure, there might be some puking, and you will most likely take a pregnancy test, but the part about being bummed about not imbibing? I am not buying it.
Like most women in their 20s, I have been known to enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cocktail with friends, and as an extrovert, I welcome drinking with good company. And to be honest, when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child earlier this year, the thought of not drinking any more crossed my mind with some hints of remorse. But, now, six months later, I can honestly say it has been a welcomed reprieve physically, mentally and socially.
In addition to the obvious advantages to not drinking while pregnant, abstaining from alcohol is sort of like being on an unintentional cleanse. All of a sudden, weeks and even months have passed since your last drink, and you feel sharper and more put together. At least that has been my experience. I have even caught myself wondering if I could make this a sustainable lifestyle choice, and continue this sobriety long after baby is here. Of course, then I come back to reality, but still, the thought has crossed my mind!
What’s more, replace that casual drink after work with the 1,000 liters of water pregnant women are encouraged to drink daily, and all of the sudden your caloric intake takes a noticeable plunge. Not to be confused with dieting, because, well, I’m pregnant, and I heart carbs, there is something to be said for completely removing alcohol from your diet, as detailed here and here.
Since alcohol is known to impair our brain function and overall mental aptitude, it should be no surprise that the absence of it makes for a sharper mom. And while the media (again!) would have us all believe that the plight of the pregnant women is chock full of “pregnancy brain” moments, I have found quite the opposite to be true.
Like anyone, I make mistakes or forget simple things, but that’s not unique to my pregnancy, that’s just me being human. What I will say is that I can pretty much guarantee that if given the choice between the pregnant lady and the guy who crushed a bottle of tequila the night before at happy hour, your best bet would be the pregnant woman who, in addition to making a person, can certainly fulfill her job duties without the burden of a hangover.
And while the mental and physical benefits have been great, my favorite, by far, are the social. As adults, we often reach for alcoholic drinks because that’s the beverage selection presented to us, but being pregnant has actually given me the permission not to drink. That is, no one is offering me another or pressuring me to BYOB, and the result is that I just drink some water or maybe some La Croix if I’m feeling squirrely.
And because I am an extreme extrovert, I don’t feel any sort of social deficit when attending social functions. I am still able to converse with friends and coworkers and participate in alcohol-specific events like happy hours without feeling completely left out.
Here’s an example. Ever wonder what it was like to be underage again when all of your friends are 21? Being pregnant at parties is like being the only 18 year old at a college party, totally sober. And while it sounds embarrassing, it’s so, so funny. You get to be the person that actually hears, and sometimes engages, in drunken discourse with all of your closest friends. Have an iPhone handy? Record it, and it will serve as endless hours of entertainment when you share it in a group text the next morning.
Actual exchange between drunk person and me:
Me: Can I get you something to drink?
Drunk Person: Aren’t you pregnant?
Me: Yes, but I can still touch bottles with alcohol in them.
Drunk Person: I don’t want that on my conscience, dude.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the obvious shortcomings that come with pregnancy, as my intention isn’t to depict my experience as some euphoric journey into motherhood. To be sure, my first trimester can best be described as all the nausea associated with a hangover without any of the drinking. But now, six months in, I can confidently say that I welcome being the Sober Sally at parties and social events, and for right now at least, the thought of a glass of wine doesn’t make me salivate in anticipation.
So moms-to-be, fear not! Think of your pregnancy as a vacation from alcohol and an invitation to elevate the quality of your life physically, mentally, and socially.