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There’s a great chapter in Dan Savage’s terrific adoption memoir The Kid in which he and his boyfriend Terry are offered the chance to adopt a baby. The mother is six months along — and the catch is that she was drinking heavily before she knew she was pregnant, so there’s an increased risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The adoption agency needs a decision within 24 hours; two couples have already bailed, and the mother needs to get off the streets to stay healthy until the baby’s birth.

Dan and Terry are paralyzed with indecision: should they go ahead with the adoption and take the karma of accepting what they crassly call the Damaged Goods Baby? Should they pass? Or should they play the odds?

In the course of their research they discover that, while public health policy is fixated on a “take no drink under any circumstances” policy, the science doesn’t exactly back that up. Much in the way that abstinence is the absolute best way to avoid becoming pregnant, swearing off alcohol completely is the best way to avoid fetal alcohol syndrome. And recently the research confirmed that limited, moderate, controlled drinking is not unsafe.

I was reminded of all this when I went to the hairdresser. My hairdresser Minna keeps a fabulous collection of slightly outdated gossip mags, and I always dive in the moment I clear the door. Today I learned (belatedly) from In Touch that “Pregnant Kim Kardashian Is Still Getting Plastic Surgery (and May Be Worse Than Hitler)” – according to an unnamed source, of course.

Kim’s crimes against her unborn child have included:

• possibly getting botox!

• wearing tight sandals!

• flying in her third trimester!

I don’t often get a chance to read these magazines, so I’m interested in the Celebrity Parent script. Gossip rags either venerate parents as perfect and holy (Brad & Angelina) or denigrate them as vain and shallow (Kardashians, the teen moms). I suppose they employ the ‘mommy angle’ as a continuation of the narrative that Celebrity Moms Just Aren’t Like Us.

The problem is that in this case, celebrity moms are exactly like us. As soon as we get pregnant, our bodies magically change hands into the public domain and our decisions become a matter of character rather than whim.

Why did I feel like I had to defend myself for eating top of the line sushi while pregnant when listeria also comes from bagged salads and carelessly cut lunch meats? Why did I have to keep silent when another mom bragged about discarding her breast milk because she was drinking a beer, and I had no intention of doing such a wasteful thing? Why aren’t mothers trusted to use their own good judgment?

I hate, hate, hate those patronizing signs in the washroom showing a pregnant woman clutching her belly and warning me that alcohol may affect my unborn child. They tell me in no uncertain terms that I am incapable of making an informed decision. That a beer in my hand signals I am actively trying to harm my baby. That my life is less important than any baby I may or may not be carrying. Punitive anti-abortion laws are just an amped-up progression down the same degrading, patronizing road. I am smart enough to want the best for my baby and if I wasn’t, would my life be turned around by a sign in a toilet stall?

Did Kim Kardashian get Botox injections because she’s hopelessly vain? I don’t know. She denied it and her baby was born perfectly healthy. I know  I had the occasional glass of beer when I was pregnant, and on my honeymoon I had a few puffs of my husband’s postprandial cigar. To be honest, I’m more worried about the aspartame from the Diet Coke I drank throughout both pregnancies than I am about an excellent glass of wine now and again.

Maybe you think that makes me irresponsible. I’m certainly not advocating for bacchanalian spring break free-for-alls or for roller coasters to lift restrictions against pregnant ladies. I just want us all to recognize that telling pregnant mothers what to do “for their own good” is insulting and borderline misogynist. We all need to develop our good judgement: mothers, fathers, children, strangers on the street.

By the way, Dan & Terry adopted the baby. Despite the mother’s lapses he was perfectly healthy, surprising his mother not at all. Her first words to the new fathers were, “he’s healthy.”

Aleta Fera thinks it’s fine to eat quality raw milk cheese with a nice pale ale – as long as you can accurately identify good sources of information. Read her bit on rock star parents here and get verklempt with her Valentine story here.

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