Season 1

Episode 10



Stay away! I'm pregnant!

I became obsessed with keeping myself away from viruses and illnesses and chemicals. I stopped drinking coffee even though there is evidence that it is ok to drink during pregnancy (and while breastfeeding). I stopped drinking any alcohol (even though small amounts are considered safe). I stopped eating candy (for the first 2 months). I stopped using nail polish. I stopped dying my hair. I even stopped using regular shampoo for a little while and instead used baking soda (shampoo) and apple cider vinegar (conditioner, see recipe below). I started using hand sanitizers, especially after riding the subway, which beforehand I was adamantly opposed to. I avoided sick people. I worried about the radiation from the flights that I was taking while pregnant and almost cancelled them. I refused my first ultrasound (see episode 9).

I considered leaving the pollution of Toronto after Mike read a scientific paper that people who were pregnant in more polluted regions were more likely to have pregnancy complications and probably autism. I hated all the smokers on the sidewalks who were destroying the air that I am my baby were breathing. I hated being trapped in the subway stations with all the fumes of the trains. Biking behind a bus was horrible. 

I was ridiculously obsessed with all the toxins and viruses that were in my space and wanted them to go far, far away. Now, for some of these I was mildly justified. The acetone in nail polish remover is a teratogen. Getting the flu during pregnancy has been associated with increased risk of the offspring developing schizophrenia in their adulthood. Babies born in cities with greater pollution are more likely to be diagnosed with autism. For the other exposures, it’s probably only in large quantities (e.g., alcohol consumption, air travel, second hand smoke) than what I was experiencing. Ultrasounds do have potentially negative effects, but mostly those are older technologies or really high resolution ones. For others still there is no known evidence (e.g., hair shampoo, riding the subway, candy). But my rationale was that we need to reduce our load. Because yes, any one of these exposures may be relatively benign on their own but the combined effect might be damaging. And we simply don’t have that data. So… why not obsess over it and just try to keep myself entirely free?!

Of course, that was relatively impossible and I did expose myself to chemicals and toxins and viruses… apparently without any issue. But in the process, it made me anxious. I remember coming home off the subway and feeling so gross in my hands until I was able to get somewhere where I could wash them. For that 9-months, I was probably pathological. For better or for worse. So I worried about those stress hormones… 





Supplementary Information

Shampoo/Conditioner Recipe:
Measure 2 tbsp baking soda into a 500 mL/1 pint glass jar. Wet hair. Fill jar with water and stir to dissolve baking soda. Pour over head and scrub into hair. Rinse. Measure 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar into same jar. Add water, pour over head, and rinse almost immediately.