Hope springs eternal


Tape relocated from some fruit. It reads: Organically grown.

Several years back I was transfixed by a radio interview with Sandra Steingraber, who was talking about her book, Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood. There’s an informative review of the book here on Seventh Generation; you might know her from a previous work, the highly regarded Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.

When Steingraber became pregnant, she understood her body as the ecosystem that was supporting her growing child, and brought her ecologist’s eye to the developmental process. The pregnant human body as our kids’ first ecosystem: it’s an illumnating–and oftentimes alarming–simile.

As most well-informed folks in the throes of pregnancy know, biomagnification ensures that whatever toxins are unfiltered by the pregnant body pack an even bigger wallop by the time they get to the fetus. Like how the mercury level in the larger, predator kinds of fishes is elevated to levels far disproportionate to its occurance in the environment, having become ever more concentrated as it makes its way up the food chain. It ain’t easy at the top.

Which of course gives one even more heebie-geebies to heap on the huge, groaning pile of pregnancy-fear heebie-geebies, upon which one could wallow 24 hrs/day; 9 mo/solid. But one must not wallow! One must live a sane life! Research; be mindful; agitate; draw connections; so forth! And then humbly remind oneself that forces beyond our control can, and oftentimes do, trump our best-laid plans.

In matters like this, I take my cue from Mother Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, who is reputed to have been the one who said, “Work as if your work will last a thousand years and as if you will die tomorrow.”

1 thought on “Hope springs eternal”

  1. What a fabulous picture!

    I think a lot about this, less, thank god, than I did when I was pregnant, but still a lot.

    I tend towards the schizophrenic. I try to be careful and responsible, eating stuff that’s good for me, and being careful about what Noah gets to eat. But then I impulse eat a bunch of donuts or go to McDonalds 3x on my solo business trip.

    What I come back to, in order not to be crippled by guilt, is that every responsible decision I make helps improve the chance that Noah will grow up healthy. He’s got a pretty good shot at it, just statistically (college educated parents, nursing for 8.5 months so far), but of course I want to improve the odds. And, it’s ok that I’m never going to get the odds to 100%. My occasional McDonalds and occasional beer aren’t going to hurt him.

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