The spa that shunned me.

Even if you’re not afraid of certain activities during pregnancy, you will inevitably find yourself at the mercy of other (well-meaning?) people who are. These people suck.

Andrew has an upcoming conference at a fancy schmancy hotel about an hour and a half away. Fuck it, it’s the Fairmont Banff Springs. With our anniversary falling on the weekend prior, we figured we’d treat ourselves and head up a couple days early. They have an amazing spa, so I also reasoned that I may as well funnel the money I’d normally spend on overpriced cocktails into an equally overpriced spa treatment. I’m cool with it being overpriced…everything in Banff is, and it’s something special that I don’t get to do all the time.

That said, I’m not going to shell out for a treatment that I can get anywhere / any time, for half the price. I want something different than my typical mani/pedi or massage. So I scour the brochure. I spend 2 days looking at it every time I have a spare minute. I finally settle on the “Seasonings: Feet First” treatment:

Massaging reflex points on the feet and hands relieves tension throughout the body. In this head-to-toe experience, a foot soak and scrub is followed by a foot and hand massage, focusing on vital energy points. While skin absorbs the essential oils, you are pampered with a head, neck and shoulder massage. Great for any season.

The site mentions disclosing any medical conditions or special considerations including pregnancy at time of booking. So in the notes section of the online form I type, Pregnant – second trimester and hit submit.

Not long after, my phone rings. It’s the spa and since they have noted that I am expecting, they are sorry to inform me that the treatment I have chosen is “too stimulating and not appropriate for pregnancy.” They can suggest a regular pedicure ($85 for 45 minutes is the cheapest of the three offered) or a pregnancy massage ($199/hr). Er, no. The caller was super polite, warm and seems genuinely sorry about being the bearer of bad news, but her employer’s fearful policies suck.

I totally understand that massage, essential oils and reflex points can all be very powerful therapeutic tools, but surely there are ways this can just be adjusted for my needs rather than avoided altogether. Don’t use the essential oils that are contraindicated in pregnancy? Don’t drill your thumbs into the “uterine contraction” trigger point, if one exists? Don’t somehow mistake my feet, hands, shoulders or neck for my abdomen and jump up and down? Don’t scrub all the flesh off my feet leaving me susceptible to a systemic infection? I mean, really…what the hell could happen in this treatment that would compromise a pregnancy?

At least offer me more choices. Maybe offer to send me a list of ALL the treatments that would be acceptable for a woman as frail as I. I have a hard time believing I couldn’t receive a facial, or a moisturizing treatment. I was a bit too dumbfounded to press her on it, and as I said, she was totally pleasant, so I’d never shoot the messenger. But I would have liked a more specific explanation. I may still email them and ask for one. I’ll see how bitchy I feel tomorrow.

I think the truth is that there is no real reason, they are just scared shitless of something coincidentally going wrong while I’m in their facility and being blamed or sued.

For now, I’ll happily give my business to my regular kick-ass massage therapist who has no hesitations about treating me at any point in my pregnancy and the hardcore ladies at my local cheap n’ cheerful nail salon who, truth be told, could probably deliver a baby while doing a set of acrylics at the same time.

Fuck you, BabyC@$#er!

If you’ve had a baby and have a computer, you probably signed up for one of the many sites that provide week-by-week updates on your “pregnancy journey”. If you’re like me, you will then relay unsolicited updates to a lucky friend every Saturday morning at an ungodly hour when she is trying to sleep and you are eating saltines in bed. I highly recommend this step. Anyways…

It’s super fun to learn about what’s happening to your body and your baby and follow along as it grows from poppy seed to pumpkin-sized. (Jesus. Christ.)

It’s not so fun to be scared shitless by the daily tips and warnings about the gazillion and one things you are – and are not – supposed to be doing if you don’t want to lose the baby or have it come out with a host of debilitating mental and physical defects.

I am (already) a horrible mother who takes all of these recommendations with a giant grain of salt. I’ve eaten sushi, lunch meat and soft cheese. I pet strange cats. I’ve had the (very) odd glass of wine or sip of a delicious cocktail. And as my pregnancy progresses, I look forward to continuing to do so. Because when you look at the actual facts and studies – not just the overzealous public health policy propaganda – none of this stuff is as scary as the pregnancy police would have you believe. And if you’re willing to make the extra effort to read the current research and understand the real risks behind the blanket recommendations, you can make your own pregnancy-related decisions for yourself. Some things are totally worth this effort. Like Guinness and salmon sashimi. Amen.

Even if my approach is too wild for you (hey, you do you) I think we can all agree that these sites tend to err on the side of ridiculous precaution. Take this gem:  “We can’t say for certain that cell phones are safe to use while pregnant. Cell phones have only been widely used since the 1990s, so it’s impossible to be sure about the long-term effects yet.” Like, what-the-fuck-ever.

I think I get what’s really going on here. I’m a copywriter and I’ve written enough content for enough sites to know that sometimes you are literally just pulling stuff out of your ass to fill a space that happens to need 50 words so the designer doesn’t have an aneurysm. Copywriting. It’s truly a craft.

I digress. The stupidest tidbits on these pregnancy sites are the ones like this:  “Start a daily ritual to connect with your baby. Set aside two, five-minute periods every day to think about your baby.”

I will straight up tell you that if you are not thinking about your baby for at least 10 minutes a day, you are not pregnant. It’s that simple. But thanks for the tip.