On a recent flight, sitting next to a pregnant woman, I had “a moment.”
When the flight attendant offered drinks, my seatmate ordered wine. I admit, I was stunned. My mind raced ahead full throttle as I recalled countless studies and reports about the negative effects of alcohol on a developing fetus.
Within seconds I was planning what I “should” say to my seatmate. I needed to “inform” her about the risks of drinking alcohol to “protect” her unborn child.
At some point, as my mind was spinning, it occurred to me that this was NOT my business! And even though there is a HUGE part of me that feels I need to spread the word about taking care of one’s own and one’s fetus’ health during pregnancy, I reconsidered saying something.
I don’ t know this woman, her story, or anything about her. Offering unsolicited information (“advice”) to a stranger, even though she is sitting 3 inches away from me, is probably not a good idea. Other people’s choices may not be my choices. It is not my role to impose my beliefs and thoughts on anyone. So I breathed deeply, quieted my internal, critical dialogue about her, and changed my thoughts from judgment to sending her and her unborn child messages of health and peace. This helped me a lot. I hope it helped her.
I believe we are all “connected.” But this scenario brings into question how this connection is manifested in our day to day lives. How am I “connected” to this person who happens to be my seatmate? At what point does proximity imply or invite connection or intimacy? If she were in trouble, I would help her. If she bullied someone or hurt her child, I would not be silent. No question. I can think of several scenarios where I would intervene. But this is not one of them.
Which brings me back to my “moment.” I’m interested in how you have handled your “moments.”
In all honesty and with all respect, I’m glad you didn’t say anything to your seat mate, whom I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt. She may have ordered wine because she’s a tense flyer, and certainly, one glass of wine (assuming she had that, e.g. she didn’t “overdo”) would certainly be preferable as a sedative, while pregnant, over other substances. Also, when pregnant myself, I sometimes – very rarely – but sometimes indulged in a glass of wine. At least back then, the late 80’s-early 90’s, my own doctors didn’t discourage it, in extreme moderation. With that occasional glass of wine, my children were born weighing 9 lbs. 3 oz. and 10 lbs. 101/2 oz. respectively, and from then on, grew up strong in mind and body. So there’s that aspect of your story to which I respond. The other: even with one’s heart and head being in exactly the right place, I don’t think it is one’s place to offer unsolicited advice. This is obviously a tough call for caring, principled and most of all knowledgable people like you. But my view is that there are all kinds of people in the world who will live, well, as they do. We can hope they become educated in their homes or schools or places of worship or doctors’ offices – or by the media – if we’re lucky, by all five – but to take it upon ourselves to educate them usually translates into something inappropriate, and doesn’t bode well. Why not address the issue in the media – that of the concerns connected with drinking while pregnant? It’s likely the most effective way to convey your strong feelings about it to those most needing to hear them.