The Right Start

Week 24: 1.21.08


Concept and Conception

I'm a food writer. I write about, cook, taste, and eat food for a living. So when my husband Aaron and I started talking about becoming parents, I was thinking about the healthful, organic meals I'd be eating to give our baby a head start. Motherhood sounded like the impetus I needed to realize my most virtuous intentions, and I spent the summer entertaining happy visions.

Happy it was. We stopped using birth control, read Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and were staring at a positive pregnancy test before I was fully aware that we'd started "trying." Suddenly the few extra bucks for hormone-free milk was mandatory, I went out for jogs feeling like I was training for the biggest athletic challenge of my life, and I figured positive thinking was all it would take to stay above those faint rumors I'd heard of nausea and fatigue.

Gestation and Indigestion

By the 12-week point when we'd planned to announce our news, the initial elation had diminished. The thrill of every symptom (Whee, big, sore boobs! Lookie: I keep having to pee!) was gone, and I was no longer bursting to share my pregnancy.

Nope, by then each day was a tug-of-war between feeling too sick to eat, and knowing that the longer I went without eating, the sicker I felt. Thankfully, most days were short, because I fell asleep before, during, or immediately after dinner. Forget jogging, I struggled to make macaroni and cheese from a box. Veggies were verboten. Aaron was right there with me, all love and support. But we ate so much bland processed food that I began to worry he'd need a prenatal vitamin too.

Of course lots of people have been there, and were very understanding. Yet none of them had said much before. Sure, I'd heard my sister-in-law had some smell aversions, and subsisted on potato bread for a bit, but I'd seen her pregnant: she was cute, round, and cheerful. And as for my mom, her memories were completely rosy. "I had such sense of purpose," she enthused. "Even just sitting around relaxing I was accomplishing the most noble job on the planet."

I felt slightly betrayed and very isolated. Too tired to return emails let alone meet up with friends, I didn't exactly make it my mission to tell everyone what that first trimester was really like for me. No wonder word doesn't get out.

In the Pink

To be honest, now that I'm enjoying a ravenous second trimester, I'm not sure I'd remember much of this if Stef, my best friend and downstairs neighbor, wasn't going through it now. I can recognize her search for loopholes. Is there one safe food? What if you simply cut out every food that ever makes you ill? Small, frequent meals help, sort of, but really, the nausea's inescapable.

All told, the hard part lasted only 6 or 7 weeks for me. By week 14, I'd regained the ability to make deliberate choices about food and exercise. And over the past 5 months I've learned to accept how much control I do, and don't, have over how I feel. And you know, being pregnant really is the most rewarding work I've ever done.

I like to express myself in words, but I love to express myself through food. After feeling pretty speechless for a while there, I'm back, ready to blog about my experiences and share my attempts to nourish myself and the growing life I'm hosting. I'm going to start by making Stef the prettiest pink organic strawberry shake that I can.

Strawberry Shake