There are a lot of vices women are encouraged to give up when they're pregnant: drugs, smoking, drinking, caffeine and junk food, to name a few.
For me, none of these were really a problem. I don't do drugs. I don't smoke. I rarely drink -- not enough to really miss it. I only like soda with pizza and Chinese takeout and, even then, prefer the caffeine-free variety. And junk food has and always will be a rare treat in my diet.
But there is one thing that I'm having a hard time giving up: painting.
I loved, loved, LOVED painting our house all last summer. I've always been a creative type and nothing suits my anal-retentive tendencies better than paying close attention to detail on a project. Painting is both of those things combined, plus I love the thrill of making a space more beautiful. It is an activity with a million pluses: it takes very little effort, is good exercise, not too expensive and makes a big impact.
Sure, women are "advised" not to paint because of the toxic fumes, so instead of painting inside, I looked to a more well-ventilated area to do my creative work this summer -- outside. I had planned to paint every square inch of our chain link fence black.
We had been told by our neighbors that the former owner painted it forest green two summers ago to hide a few rust spots. Sure, it took him three months, they said, but he used a tiny paintbrush. I planned to use a roller for the main fence and a brush for the poles and hardware.
Jerry freaked and accused me of trying to sabotage our baby. Plus, he assumed I'd get tired and force him to do it.
First of all, painting never gets old for me. I don't WANT help. Not only is it fun, but I am also so much of a perfectionist that I am under the assumption, no matter how false, that I can do it better than anyone else. Jerry is good at a lot of things, but paying close attention to detail is not his forte. He is my roller man. When we team up, I do the trim and he fills in the big spaces. It's a perfect match.
Second of all, how horrible can wielding a small paintbrush be IN THE OPEN ATMOSPHERE? Before I knew I was pregnant the first time, I had painted our vanity. Our windowless, fanless vanity. Of course I expressed my concern to every doctor, nurse and receptionist at my OBGYN who would listen, and all had the same answer: "Don't worry about it."
And what about interior designers? Even Lori on "Trading Spaces," (you know, back when the show didn't suck), got pregnant and painted almost every day for a living. And I'm sure her baby wasn't a mongoloid.
I had made up my mind that I was going to do it despite the friction it was causing between Jerry and me. I knew I would prove him wrong. I wouldn't ask for help because I wouldn't need it. It wouldn't take me three months because I'd use more functional tools. And I'd even wear a stupid face mask if it would make him feel more comfortable.
Then my mom came to visit and, of course, sided with him, giving Jerry all the validation he needed to put his foot down. So now my fun is ruined for the summer. My painting project fun. I'll just sit in a corner and put my thumb up my ass. A corner with dry non-lead-based paint.
To top it off, I had already conceded that I wouldn't help paint the baby's room. Despite the fact that the room has two gigantic windows and a ceiling fan, it's inside. Fumes. I get it. Here's me backing off. Voluntarily. Mark the calendar.
Realistically, I know it's probably not the best thing in the world to paint an outdoor fence while pregnant, but I'm convinced that all the happy endorphins my brain would release throughout the project would far outweigh any negative side effects.
And for my final argument?
IT'S NOT LIKE I'M ASKING TO DO HEROIN.