Your Body

Dear Ladies, How dare we suggest you actually act responsibly. Love, the CDC

By February 5, 2016 0

Recently, the CDC came out and said that no woman, ever, should consume any alcohol during pregnancy. There is no time, trimester, or week where any amount of alcohol at all is, medically speaking, “alright.” Furthermore, there isn’t a type of alcohol that is any more or less harmful to a developing fetus, so a sip of Miller Lite is just as bad as a shot of tequila.

I’m 26 and I know plenty of women who have had a drink or two while pregnant. A friend of the family had a glass of wine every Friday night once she hit 16 weeks. Another friend’s baby was full term and 9 days late, and she had a few sips of lite beer towards the end of her pregnancy. And if you think about it, our moms and our mom’s moms were drinking, smoking, and who knows what else while pregnant with us, and hey, most of us turned out okay – I guess.

But the CDC says no, dial it back, there is no way any of this is allowable in any fashion. And let’s be honest here: Can we blame them? Can you really think that taking in any type of drug or addictive substance could be deemed “suitable” to the small life growing inside you? Pregnant ladies aren’t even allowed to take Sudafed when they have a cold; of course, the same thing would go for alcohol. How could any 21st century medical professional say otherwise?

In short, I was not surprised by the CDC’s warnings, though I was dismayed. I thoroughly enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at the end of a long day, and I can only imagine that my days will be made ever longer if I ever find myself pregs. And I often say I would water down a Coors Light and have a few sips if that time ever came, or wonder if an O’Doul’s would satisfy any jealousy I had of friends and family members drinking at barbeques, but in truth, you know what all that blabbering tells me? It tells me, very simply: I am not ready to have a child.

If I can honestly sit here and say I’d rather risk lifelong ailments and birth defects of the child I will bring into the world simply so that I can enjoy a glass of my favorite cab sav, then I am not ready to have a child. And I know this, and I embrace it, and sometimes, my eager internal clock even does battle with it.

And what else? Oh, yes. I use a fucking contraceptive.  

The CDC came out this week and advised women “to stop drinking if she is trying to get pregnant or not using birth control with sex.”

Now, the bitter side of me read this fact and got angry. I am not on the pill, as it gave me horrific migraines for nearly ten years of my life that only stopped when I finally decided to experiment with life without extra hormones pumping through my body. Then I realized, duh, birth control also means condoms, and I use one of those, so I’m alright.

And then my brain thought, wait a second – why on Earth did I just get angry in the first place?

As if my prayers were answered by an instigating, drama-inspiring god somewhere, I stumbled across this article on Upworthy, “Not on birth control? The CDC wants you to stop drinking. Here’s what I think.”

I read it and instantly felt like a moron for wasting a moment of my life holding a grudge against the CDC’s remarks.

Laura Willard, the author of the article, contends that instead of warning women from drinking alcohol and having sex when without contraception, the CDC should spend their time finding ways for women to gain access to free contraception, and similarly, to educate men to carry contraception, and to make them understand their share in the act of fornication as well.

Don’t get me wrong: free access to contraception would be a miraculous thing. I often am nostalgic of the days in college when you’d get a handful of free condoms on your way out of the dining hall on an arbitrary Tuesday. And yes, men undoubtedly will always need reminders and education in the fact that what they do to satisfy their sexual urges does, indeed, have consequences, and it would be nice to pin their asses to the ground in some wicked Chains of Responsibility.

But let’s, really, think for a moment here, about the direct root of the feared Fetal Alcohol Syndrome…

It’s women. It’s the mother. There is no one else to blame. It’s the mother, drinking.

I will make this argument: if you have $5 to spend on a beer, you have $5 to buy some condoms. If you are out with a dude who is buying you your drinks, then grow the fuck up and make him wrap it. I am sorry, women, but I look at my newborn niece’s face, and am instantly not at all sorry, and no urge or impulse is ever more important than the applicable consequences, which are lofty in the easiest sense, and fatal in the heftiest.

We are women, and that is all there is to it. No one can be responsible for our bodies except us. The CDC wants us to not drink alcohol if it is at all possible we could become pregnant. Is that really so much to ask? Is it so horrific to imagine that you make sure you have a pack of condoms in your purse before you buy that next round for your friends? If you cannot afford contraception, or cannot find the resources necessary to acquire some at a reasonable cost, are you really in any state to be having unprotected sex in the first place?

The line is clearly drawn: if you drive drunk, you may very well kill yourself or someone else. If we have unprotected sex, we may very well become pregnant, and therefore put a child at risk if we have not taken care of ourselves. We are blessed and cursed with the gift to give and nurture life, and for anyone to suggest that we should not have to take appropriate measures to protect that life for the sake of “feminism,” or “equality,” or any other social stance is clearly, much like myself, not ready to be a mother. And so stand up, and acknowledge that you are indeed not ready to be a mother, and take the CDC’s warnings as they are meant to be taken: as a precaution, as a provision, and as a life-preserving measure for a generation to come.