Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dogs and Espresso in Europe

My family and I have been living in central Germany for six months now. As such, my thoughts have tended toward cultural comparisons quite frequently in recent days. Maybe our first half of a year here still characterizes us as neophytes, but I just can't help but share some tidbits of micro-sociology that my husband and I toss around over dinner.

Recently we were out to eat in a downtown tapas bar -- a rare date without children. We had not arrived at the restarant until 2030 because we had wanted to get the baby to sleep ourselves before leaving. This, unwittingly, put as right in the middle of Euro-nightlife. People were just being seated all around us, the music was pumping, the alcohol flowing and the plates of food enticing. I looked around and commented to my spouse that many of these people had to be in their 30s and 40s - where were their kids? This question triggered a discussion of several possible explanations, some more cynical than others: 1)Germans have fewer children than us, perhaps these couples had grown children or even had not begun their families yet/ were never going to have children 2) Germans are not as transitory as Americans and probably live closer to grandparents who could watch the children while the young parents went out to dine or 3) Maybe the babies were safely strapped in their cribs in some urban apartment nearby. I am not being flippant here -- both my parents (who lived in Germany in the mid 80s) and my 30-something German mommyfriend have explained to me how it is common practice to put your child to bed, strap them in the crib (many cribs here come with the straps attached), lock the apartment door and head out for dinner downtown. An American parent's skin might crawl at the suggestion, but their crime and kidnapping rates are not what ours are either.

So, anyhow, back to the tapas bar... in comes a group of four likely-homosexual men with their dogs. "Germans love their dogs," I comment to Husband. Germans love animals, good beer, and spiced wine. Espresso reigns over drip coffee, the restaurants are plentiful, the food expensive but very high quality. Cars are small and fuel-efficient. People smoke socially and converse long after meals. Oh no... I was once again slipping into my dangerous Euro-temptation state. These lifestyle choices are all very self-fulfilling and materially/physically pleasing. Our van cost more and is more expensive to fuel than their mini Coopers, but it is irrelevant because my family will soon outnumber the seats of a mini. I would love to return to the days of heavy espresso and red wine drinking, but breast-feeding and the ever-present possibility of pregnancy do not allow this. Dogs provide all the affection and very few of the demands of a diapered infant or talkative preschooler. Hold on! What was I thinking? Level-headed Husband had to right my mental ship. Most modern Germans are good at hedonism. Their lifestyles are crafted in such a way as to demand very little self sacrifice and being the flawed human that I am, this life of pleasure can be appealing in a weak moment. My husband lovingly reminded me that, while it is ok to be tempted, we are called to something greater. Made in God's image, we are toiling to create and raise little souls to know and love Him -- only this is true happiness. The espresso and tapas will have to wait, I've got some bunk-beds and kid-size instruments to buy!

**AWOL Note ** I am going to have to write Part II -- On the blessings of living in the USA -- where there is at least a minority voice to be heard, where movements like Quiverfull are founded and 1.5 million children are homeschooled by mothers who forego a second income and great personal freedom to do so. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany. Stop me now.....

38 comments:

JesusThroughMary said...

Thank you for this article. Making hedonism and materialism more sophisticated doesn't make them less evil - it just makes them harder to resist.

Elena said...

I always feel like I'm in a sort of hell when I'm out in circumstances like those described i.e. where is God? I actually feel scared and want to run home to my house, my husband and my babies. I commiserate.

Anonymous said...

FemiNazi

Anonymous said...

"The espresso and tapas will have to wait, I've got some bunk-beds and kid-size instruments to buy"...

Why is your materialism less crass than that of the espresso-drinking Germans? Right, I forgot, your consumption is mandated by God and theirs isn't. Isn't it wonderful how capitalism contorts everything it gets its hands on and reproduces it in its image? That's American Christianity for you, starting with the Puritans-- using Christianity to justify capitalist expansion and the dispossession of Native Americans et al. Ironic, because I could have sworn that it was your beloved JC who once said, "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven;" the same guy who got really pissed off when God was used to justify materialism: "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, 'It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.'"

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Would you prefer the children sleep on the floor?

:)

Carol said...

AWOL Mommy,

I always like hearing your expat ruminations. We are expats in the UK and my husband and I have many similiar conversations. I think as Americans we can sometimes romanticize European lifestyles so it is good to get a little reality check now and then! Thanks for sharing!!

Right Said Red said...

Anonymous,

So it is capitalist and materialist to buy something for the service of others? I guess Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day were real capitalists when they put in an order for some extra cribs and mattresses for poor homeless children.

The difference between you and AWOL--she is making purchases for the good of other people. Apparently, when you buy things, you only do so to serve your own self interests. Unfortunately, you are also too small minded to see the difference between selfishness and gift of oneself. Thankfully, it is a pretty glaring distinction to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Dear AWOL and Right Said Red,
What surprises me most about your comments is how condescending and judgmental they are. As Christians, and highly educated people, I would hope that there would be more acceptance in this extremely public venue.

AWOL, how can you look into a crowd of strangers and presume to know that they are hedonistic, purely by their dinner fare and choice of animals? How can you assume to know that their lives aren't filled with sacrifice?

Right Said Red, I think the previous anonymous comment was making a point about capitalism and what Jesus teaches, and while they make their point a little condescendingly, you automatically begin to personally attack the writer. How do you know that this person buys items for their own self fulfillment? Is this how the Church teaches you to address others, even when their tone towards you is negative?

I occasionally pop from time to time on this blog post and am shocked by the lack of acceptance that I see. The reason why there is so much division in society is because certain sects see themselves as better than others. Who is anybody to presume and cast such judgment? What makes this attitude any different than Nazi Germany?

AWOL, you may be proud that you are raising children to be in His image, but if you are teaching them to disapprove and to judge and to claim that only THEIR way of life is "true" happiness, then you are doing a disservice to us all.

Right Said Red said...

I regret the use of the term small-minded. My sincere apologies for this unchristian language.

I assume that the person posting has not personally bought things for others, as they fail, most glaringly to see this distinction in their comments. If this is not true, again, my apologies.

And as for the anonymous commentor who was in your words "a little condescending," maybe I'm a little touchy to think the word choice, "your beloved JC" highly insulting. This blog is run by a group of Christian mothers, so it is obviously our faith in Christ that unites us. When a reader who is not a Christian chooses to speak of Christ in this manner, it is more than a little condescending.

And in the future, please pick a blog name to write under. We will delete future anonymous comments. (You don't even had to use your real name, just a name).

And I would like to add, that many of AWOL's comments about the Germans are completely true of Americans. Materialism isn't limited to their culture--it is a cross cultural problem and the result of sin. And like JesusthroughMary said, the prettier the package, the more tempting it becomes. My main objection here is the first anonymous commentor who labeled AWOL's choice to purchase beds for her kids as the result of rampant capitalism. Not only do I think this assertion absurd, I also objected to the manner in which he or she referred to Christ.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Right Said Red said...

We will remove all future anonymous comments on this post. Please pick a name, any name, and write under that name. It is too difficult to hold a discussion with a bunch of different anonymous commentors.

texas mommy said...

Another perspective...I actually found it somewhat refreshing that, when living in Italy, the Italians tended to spend more of their income on food/restaurants, since eating is an inherently social and communal activity. I feel like Americans tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on tvs, computers and other electronics that tend to isolate rather than bring people together in a real way. We had very patchy internet connection in out apartment, so we spent much more time with people, out at cafes, etc.

While we can generalize from population rates and the effects of the culture of death, I don't think we can apply sterotypes to individuals without knowing them. I know people with high incomes and fertility issues that would love to give up their material wealth for a child. But God has not called them to this. Sometimes this comes at a cost of huge and hidden That said, materialism is indeed a temptation that can take many forms both here and abroad.

FemiNazi said...

Capitalism and materialism have little to do with the ends of consumption and wealth-production, meaning that it matters little for the expansion of capitalism if one's consumption is a consequence of self-interest or interest in others. The selfish/selfless distinction is irrelevant when it comes to capitalism and its need to generate profit by getting people to participate in the market, whether as consumers or laborers.

If capitalism can attract a Christian mother to the market by associating motherhood with consumer goods, it will do so, telling her that she will fulfill God's mandate by buying her kids bunk beds and Happy Meals. Advertising companies prey on selflessness as much as they do on selfishness-- how do you explain all those ads geared toward men who want to make women happy? These companies tell men that the way to a woman's heart is through a diamond ring or a set of pajamas.

My point: Stop hiding behind your children. They don't need bunk beds anymore than a dead man needs a suit, which is not to say that your kids shouldn't have bunk beds or the dead man shouldn't have a suit. Your kids have bunk beds because you want them to have bunk beds. It is your will that buys the beds and gives them to your kids-- take responsibility for that. You may believe that your will is in the service of God, but I ain't never heard of no God who told someone to buy her kids bunk beds. It's a far stretch from "be fruitful and multiply" to "Honey, I think the kids need kid-size instruments."

margaretjdmom said...

Femi-Nazi,
I think you are reading way too much into this post. Awol mommy was merely commenting on the scene and what thoughts and reflections it led her to discuss with her husband and then us.

People who are open to having large families often buy bunk beds to get the maximum amount of kids into the minimum amount of space! She was merely commenting on what her own priorities were for her family and realizing that those priorities are often different than those of most other people.

Regarding materialism and christian/catholic families, I would argue, the bigger the family, the less materialistic they tend to be (although we all have our faults and foibles when it comes to material things, its always going to be a struggle to live detachment- we're human!). I remember driving past a huge house and my little son remarked.."Wow, they must have a ton of kids to have a house that big!" Sadly, that probably wasn't the case.

One Anon wrote:"to claim that only THEIR way of life is "true" happiness, then you are doing a disservice to us all"....I have to disagree. God has called us to be with Him, and there are many people who have or are currently rejecting that call. I intend to teach my kids that a life lived with God is the only true happiness. I don't think that's doing anyone a disservice.

Joanne said...

I find it very interesting that some people put their kids down and go out. When I was first at home with my oldest child, I used to put him down for a nap and think "Finally! I need to go to the bank and the store, etc., etc." and then I would remember, I can't leave him here! But it seemed like such a waste of my time. I suppose I figure I'm here to make sure the house doesn't burn down.

This is a very interesting post, as usual. Thanks!

bridget bullio said...

FemiNazi,

"My point: Stop hiding behind your children. They don't need bunk beds anymore than a dead man needs a suit, which is not to say that your kids shouldn't have bunk beds or the dead man shouldn't have a suit. Your kids have bunk beds because you want them to have bunk beds."

I agree that the forces of capitalism do not discriminate. We must be aware of the fact that we are constantly being marketed to and we must guard ourselves against this. Indeed, The Catechism warns us of this ( see 2425). That said, I read the comment regarding bunk beds simply as a matter of practicality, Many times, families who take the words of Genesis, "be fruitful and multiply," to heart do not have a lot of space in their home. They might put four or five children in a room. This is where bunk beds come in handy and are a much more practical solution than sleeping on the floor. She did not say that they needed to be new or fancy bunk beds.

We have a two bedroom apartment and are open to God's plan for our family. We currently have two children, if we have more, we will need bunk beds.

I also appreciate Texas Mommy's comment regarding spending money on social activities. I have lived in Europe and have many European friends and also found this to be true. However, in my personal experience I cannot think of one who has not made a comment to me regarding the fact that we practice NFP and are open to having more than two children. This for them is both out of the question and irresponsible. Given Europe's negative population rate, I don't think it's wrong to speculate that the average European may not be open to life the way God asks us to be. That said, in my experience, neither is the average Catholic!

Thanks for the great debate everyone!

Yours in Christ,

Bridge

AWOL Mommy said...

I am really looking forward to sharing a nice Easter cookie recipe for my next post!

kathleenob said...

So to Anonymous who claims "capitalism contorts everything it gets its hands on" I would just like to offer a few thoughts. Material possessions such as bunk beds or even tapas when properly ordered can help us move toward God. God asks us to be good stewards of the earth and we are dignified and sanctified by our work on this earth no matter how great or small it may appear in the eyes of the world. So long as we do it well and offer it to God; as a consequence of this holy ambition we are often successful professionally as well. When we do our work well or spend our money with discernment in His service (buying bunk beds for our children to sleep in or even a night out at a tapas bar to help refresh a marriage) all honest human activities can both serve God and society. There is nothing wrong with Capitalism, when good men and women are paying their workers just wages and putting in honest work themselves to support their families. Properties, factories, banks, schools, hospitals, and healthcare systems when privately owned are more likely to succeed than collectively owned counterparts because people take pride and care in what is theirs. They spend their own money far more carefully than the state does. IF your alternative is communism or socialism, why do you put so much faith in the State? Do you think it incapable of extorting tax money? I think the history of the last century tells us the horrors that can happen from when a government believes it to be the great all-knowing problem solver.

A Government Big Enough to Give You Everything You Want, is Strong Enough to Take Everything You Have. -Thomas Jefferson

Please take the time to read Pope Leo XII Rerum Novarum. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html

Mary Alice said...

Perhaps the children are with babysitters? It is funny that this doesn't enter as a possibility, I have been reflecting lately on how I am reluctant to use a sitter because I can, as a stay at home mother, take a misguided pride in doing everything myself all the time. There is nothing hedonistic about an adult night out, nor wine, coffee or good food in moderation.

Awol, watch the sweeping cultural generalizations. While I relate in many ways to your reaction to your experience, you might have felt that way at a restaurant in any major American city as well.

Excepting the dogs, of course. I support legislation against dogs and smoking in restaurants, but many would agree that we sometimes over-legislate here, too.

Caro said...

I am delurking to agree with Mary Alice. This post bothered me a lot, and it kind of reminded me of an older post you had about meeting with your high school friends. For one, I don't like the general negativity. But that aside, my two concerns are as follows:
1) You have made your choices in life (and many of your readers, including me, have made the same ones). But you cannot expect other people to have made the same choices, nor can you expect other people to approve of and validate your choices. Their decisions are between them and God, just as yours are. It is not our place to judge others. Your feelings at the restaurant seem more like a function of your own insecurity. I know I've certainly felt that way, and the response I'm giving you here is exactly what my spiritual director told me.
2) You're not being fair to Germans. MA is right about not making generalizations. You may see it as materialism, but long, lingering dinners out are just a cultural thing there. And Germans make a lot of personal sacrifices that aren't materialistic or hedonistic. They recycle EVERYTHING. They drive less than we do, meaning they rely on walking and public transportation a lot more, which isn't always convenient. They drive Minis because they are more fuel efficient--yes, it saves money, but it's also better for the environment. They live in much smaller spaces than we Americans are accustomed to and would prefer.

I have to say that, in general, negative posts like these really turn me off this blog, and I have actually cut back on reading it because of that. I much prefer more upbeat posts, and the posts that contain practical advice about raising kids/cleaning/meals/health issues/Lent/being a better mom/being a better Catholic/etc., than these types of posts.

Nancy said...

Caro,

It is interesting to me that you have chose to "delurk" to post a very negative and critical comment. Maybe you should follow your own advice and offer some imput when the builders post on topics you seem to care about--such as those you suggested.

In addition to your negativity, I wish you had been more charitable in your delivery. There are ways to point out disagreements charitably--such as the comment by Mary Alice and Texas Mommy--rather than calling the writer insecure, criticizing other things she has written, and letting her know you are thinking of not reading the blog anymore because of her posts!

mad cow said...

Two questions:

1. What does "delurking" mean?

2. Is anyone else seeing a serious inconsistency in the following comment?

"It is not our place to judge others. Your feelings at the restaurant seem more like a function of your own insecurity."

3. Finally, what is it w/ the "you're being judgmental" comments? Who wants to read a blog that never expresses an opinion on what's wrong with the world? If everything is good, is anything really good?

Mad Cow (with and emphasis on the "Mad")

Jennifer in MN said...

One question, if we are not to judge, how in the world do we teach our children right from wrong? This whole "judging" quote is taken out of context. We are not to judge the state of someone's soul, but we can judge that actions are wrong or right (or neutral). We can have a conversation about the things we see around us, those facts that we read, stories we hear and make judgments about them. How silly to think othersise.

Elena said...

I actually really appreciated AWOL's post. I agree with many of her sentiments and I don't think that she should be condemned for passing judgement. Her story actually made me think of a priest friend of mine who related a similar tale while studying in Italy. He said that during his time in Rome he noticed that he very rarely saw any young couples with children. Thus, he was very excited when he saw a young couple one day with a baby in a Snugli. He approached the couple and began to wonder why the baby had so much hair ... not a baby - the couple had their dog in a Snugli. He felt that this example was typical of what is going on in Europe. Yes, the same can be found in North America but not to the same extent. Nevertheless, we are not immune and are quickly skiing down the same slippery slope. In fact, we Canadians (of which I am one) are farther down that slope than you who live south of the border. Please don't judge AWOL for judging. We cannot tolerate everything.

Rarely Sara said...

Elena said, "We cannot tolerate everything".

I couldn't agree more. We have to walk a fine line between being judgemental, and calling a spade a spade. Political correctness and being tolerant are a lot of the reason that our culture is the way it is today. Just my $.02.

JoeCommenter said...

Mad Cow-- you said:

2. Is anyone else seeing a serious inconsistency in the following comment?

"It is not our place to judge others. Your feelings at the restaurant seem more like a function of your own insecurity."


Unless you personally see insecurity as an inherently bad thing, there is no inconsistency. The comment wasnt "...your own stupid insecurity" or ..."your own unadmirable insecurity". There was no judgement there. Maybe there wouldnt be so much judgement if people could realize the psychological origins of their feelings.

Kate E. said...

Well commenting seems to be the hip thing to do on this post so I'll add my .02 and request the builders do a post on baby-sitters.

It struck me as odd that wasn't one of the options on the list either (although AWOL remind me to tell a story about people leaving there kid at home sometime...if you are ever in NJ).

We frequently use babysitters at our house but as far as I know I have yet to meet another family who does this. Most of our friends and neighbors who have kids ranging from babies to elementary school rarely use sitters. They just don't feel comfortable with it.

I worry about a world where a 14 year old kid can't earn a little money babysitting...that was my first and favorite job throughout school.

So...perhaps a post so we can chat more about this??

FemiNazi said...

On the question of judgment: I think Jennifer in MN hit the nail on the head when she said that we shouldn't judge someone's essence or soul, but rather we should judge actions, practices, and institutions.

AWOL Mommy, I gather, was making a judgment about the declining birth rate in Europe and what she perceived to be the overall anti-child climate over there. In trying to find an explanation for this phenomenon, she listed several culprits: gays, dogs, espresso, and wine, i.e. a culture of hedonism or the pursuit of pleasure for pleasure's sake, which Christianity, as well as most other religions, condemn. (Even the Left, I should add, is generally critical of hedonism.)

My original comments about AWOL Mommy's own consumption patterns aimed to construct a likeness between her and the Germans she so badly wanted to distance herself from. While AWOL Mommy's consumption is geared toward raising her children, German consumption might be geared toward creating community in a more general sense. In my view, one is not better than the other; both rely on capitalism to achieve their ends. One is more particular (AWOL Mommy consumes for her nuclear family), the other is more general (Germans consume to create a public sphere, in which AWOL Mommy happily partook the other evening).

I am not critiquing AWOL Mommy, or anyone, for passing judgment. I think the exercise of critical faculties, the ability to problematize our world and change it, is a fundamental feature of the human condition; it is what makes us a creative species. The fear of judgment and the hegemony of tolerance, however, has cultivated passivity and apathy, which afflicts the Left, where my sympathies tend to lie, more than it afflicts the Right. I think we all have a hard time following Jennifer in MN's forumla (judge the act, not the person), and tend either to make wholesale judgments of people and places or to refrain from judgment altogether.

While I disagree with one of the earlier anonymous commentator's chastisement of AWOL Mommy for being judgmental, I agree with that commentator's interrogation of AWOL Mommy's presumptuousness. How does AWOL Mommy know that the consumption patterns of the Germans she saw that night are tied to an ethic of hedonism? They, too, may be tied to an ethic of sacrifice. Caro's point about the European environmental ethic troubles the claim that Germans are self-absorbed hedonists.

The problem, I think, that many of you have with the European ethic is that even though it may be one of sacrifice (although your jury is still out on this point), sacrifice is unintelligible to you unless it takes the form that you practice, namely motherhood (and I'm guessing AWOL Mommy would include military service as well). But sacrifice for the health of the planet and other species, which may mean forgoing motherhood, does not register on many of your radars as sacrifice. Many Europeans (and Americans as well) choose not to have children not because they want to pursue pleasure for the sake of pleasure, but because they believe that the Earth will not sustain a rapidly-growing human population, and that European and American children consume a disproportionate amount of the world's resources such that their increasing numbers spell ecological catastrophe.

mad cow said...

JoeCommenter,

I do see insecurity as an inherently bad thing, or at least indicative of a bad thing, namely, a lack of trust in God.

If you don't agree, that's another issue. But I'm operating from Christian worldview here, as is the norm on this blog.

Mad Cow

mad cow said...

FemiNazi,

It's great that the Europeans are taking care of their environment. I'm sure the immigrants that take over the continent after the Europeans have sterilized themselves into extinction will really appreciate the fresh water and clear air.

Mad Cow

mad cow said...

FemiNazi,

I'm just messing w/ you. But seriously, I highly respect the Europeans' care for the environment. My name is Mad Cow because of the lousy way American farmers treat livestock (i.e., feeding us our dead cousins). I understand there's some serious environmental problems.

That being said, we mustn't get our priorities out of whack. The environment was made for man, not man for the environment. We need to treat the environment well, or it won't be much use (or very nice to look at), but we don't need to sacrifice new human life at its service.

Mad Cow

Jennifer in MN said...

Europeans can choose not to have children all they want; however, to say that it's morally superior or that is even a sacrifice to NOT have children, is just plain wrong. I'm not sure that Married Catholic couples may not choose the "environment" as their grave reason to avoid children. Let me know if you've heard differently from some reliable Vatican source....Married Catholic Couples are called to parenthood. We may limit for just/serious/grave reasons....
children, are infact, the earth's greatest resource....

Clarification said...

Actually, Humanae Vitae does not require "grave" reasons, although the first English version to come out wrongly used the term. The official Vatican translation reads as follows: "With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time. "
I'm still not saying that environmental concerns would count as "serious," but since the earlier translation is quoted so often, this seemed worth clarifying.
The Vatican version of the document can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

Jennifer in MN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer in MN said...

Yes, sorry, I usually use grave/just/serious just to cover all the bases. However, I think the distinction between each of these words is a miniscule difference. They all mean you should have a darn good reason to be avoiding! ;) We have 6 children and have trouble finding that grave/serious/just reason! ;)

Molly said...

I'm not sure if anyone is still watching the comments here (that's what I get for taking a long weekend away from the internet!), but this brings up a question I've always had because my husband and I learned NFP from the book, not a class, so I wasn't able to ask anyone.

What do the other NFPers out there do about wine and coffee and diet soda? Do you not drink them at all? I've been assuming that I would just quit the caffeine the moment we find out we're expecting, but AWOL's post sounds like that might not ok...

Thanks!

Right Said Red said...

I drink wine and coffee until I get a positive test. If we are practicing NFP to avoid a pregnancy, I am pretty confident that I will not get pregnant that month. When we are open to conceiving, I try (although not always successfully!) to watch the wine and coffee after implantation (8 days post ovulation). Although from what I read, I'm not sure this makes a difference.

Unlike some others here, I drink wine in my 3rd trimester (only about 1 glass per week with dinner) and I drink wine with dinner somewhat regularly when nursing. I know some mothers avoid wine during the nursing time-frame. I have found coffee to affect my babies far more than a glass or two of wine. I do try to avoid caffeine when nursing, although this is a real challenge some days!

If I avoided wine when nursing or pregnant, I wouldn't have had a glass in about 7 years!

Kat said...

Molly, to answer your question, I don't drink any alcohol during pregnancy, but that's just me. When I'm nursing, I'll have a glass of wine here and there with dinner, and early on I'll try to be mindful of timing my wine consumption so that it's not right before baby's feedings. In terms of caffeine, I drink coffee throughout pregnancy (usually I'm too queasy to drink it in the first 12 weeks, but I would drink it if it tasted good) and nursing. Again, I try to be careful with the coffee in terms of timing my consumption with nursing, but I do drink about 2 cups a day. If I noticed that my babies were affected by the caffeine, I would stop. And in terms of diet sodas, I only drink them here and there, but I think that they're okay in moderation. I was super-careful with my first baby, and thought that the caffeine went straight into my breastmilk. I've since learned that that isn't the case, and have felt that the benefit of having a cup or two each day is worth it all around.