Back to Reality and New York
I came home from vacation with a couple of extra pounds. Was it the food? Water-retention from flying? OR the baby? A week later at the doctor’s office, it was a total of 3-4 pounds. I asked her if weight gain this early in the pregnancy was “normal”, and she said it was “normal for me”, as all pregnancies are different. I didn’t love this answer, and after this visit was when I decided to download the book What to Expect When You Are Expecting onto my iPad. My husband asked me, “Don’t you already know all this stuff?” Honestly, yes, I knew and had heard a lot from friends, clients, and my studies. I had not memorized or paid attention to every detail like I wanted to at this point. I wanted to know EXACTLY what was going on every week with the baby and my body, and what was in store for me. Seeing the ultrasound, hearing the heartbeat, and having the doctor confirm that there truly was a BABY in there, finally made it all REAL.
Then there was the not so fun part: blood work. I am fine having my blood drawn. I usually just turn my head away, and deal with it, but TEN vials were a bit much for me to handle. I got so nauseous and dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. Yes, I had eaten a full lunch before the appointment, but the nurse still had to give me that awful, sweet, orange glucose (sugar) solution, which was so disgusting I thought it would make me more nauseous. I feared this could be the beginning of terrible morning sickness. She made me sit still until I felt better then resumed the blood draw in my left arm, as my right arm was tapped out! After the color returned to my face and I was able to stand, my husband and I left our first appointment very happy and in awe. It was weird getting used to saying the words “I’m pregnant!” and “We are having a baby!” We would look at each other in awe and laugh each time one of us said it.
Summer and the Beach
My husband and I have been renting a beach house with friends for years. My friends know me and my body, and are aware that I am not shy wearing a bikini by the pool or on the beach. I also knew that their eyes would be on my eating and drinking habits. Since we are one of the last couples among our friends to have kids, they have been watching my food and beverage choices for months, if not years now. I KNEW the first two months of summer would be a battle to keep my secret.
During my second month I really started growing out of my clothes. I had to buy a few new dresses and selected those that were either less fitted or had elastic waists. Thank goodness for the heat, because I was able to LIVE in these dresses without worrying about fitting into pants, none of which were comfortable any longer. I bought a pair of jean shorts that fit at the beginning of the second month but quickly got uncomfortable on my waist by the end of the month. I knew it was time to put these away when I couldn’t bear to keep them buttoned or zipped on our drive home one Sunday night from the beach. I bought a couple loose-fitting bathing suit cover ups too and kept them on a lot, even when it was too hot. I would only take them off when I was alone with my husband, while laying in a lounge chair and keeping my belly covered with a magazine, or when I quickly slipped into the pool, trying to do so unnoticed. This was annoying because some days it was SO hot and humid all I wanted to do was STAY in the pool. A couple of days I just remained in the air-conditioned house and napped.
One night in particular, I am sure I created a lot of suspicion. It was a Saturday night after a busy day of running around and being in the humid heat. I had fallen asleep before dinner and slept later than I wanted to. After I got up and showered, I decided that I was too exhausted and nauseous to even move. I dried my hair, got back into bed, sent my husband to dinner alone with our friends, and I stayed under the covers the rest of the night, without eating a thing. This was so NOT like me at all, nor was it what I really wanted to do. I was listening to my body, which was telling me I could not move!
Nausea and Cravings
Fortunately, I did not suffer from the terrible morning sickness that I have seen some of my friends endure. There was no puking on the subway platform on the way to work or crippling nausea that prevented me from eating or caused weight loss. I did experience (and still do have) waves of nausea. My sense of smell was heighted, and the smell of cigarettes did and still does make me feel like vomiting. I often hold my breath as I walk down Manhattan streets during the day while people are outdoors on their smoke break. There were some hours during some days that I just couldn’t eat and had horrible nausea. One morning I sat typing on my computer while popping Saltines, which seemed to help. Chicken was something that I couldn’t even look at for a few weeks without wanting to gag. Dairy was the one food group that I did start craving and eating more of during this month. Before I was pregnant I was not eating much dairy at all. Now my fridge is always stocked with 0% Greek yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese, which I use as part of my meals or snacks. I know the baby and I need our calcium!
I do not miss alcohol or coffee. The couple of sips that I had taken of each tasted awful and bitter to me. I know that I am “allowed” to have at least one cup of coffee per day while pregnant, but honestly, it doesn’t taste the same without Splenda or Stevia in it. What can I say: I just don’t like the taste of sugar in my drinks….I’ve tried it! And I prefer not to drink empty calories. I do love drinking unsweetened tea with lemon, but I read that too much green tea may block the body’s absorption of folic acid. Other herbal teas may not necessarily be 100% safe either. This has been totally fine because I am content with water and seltzer with lime or lemon. I have also discovered a new drink: green juice! In the past I was not a fan of juicing because I rather eat my vegetables and fruit to reap the benefits of the fiber and other phytonutrients available in the intact plants. But with my nausea and cravings and lack of my morning coffee or tea, I decided to try a “green” juice for the first time. This juice is offered at many health food stores and juice bars-I have yet to make my own. It contains spinach, kale, apple, cucumber, celery, and I add lemon and ginger. The small ends up at about 200 calories. It’s been perfect for me this summer as a pre-workout snack, or to rehydrate and get in some carbohydrates after my workout. (There will be more to come later on my “new” pregnancy workout routine.) I swear I feel energized by all the green nutrients I’m getting into my body. Like I said, I do not usually like to drink my calories, but I also know that I need about 300 additional calories per day while pregnant and this has been a great, healthy way for me to add extra.
Other foods just taste weird, including a certain ice cream. There is one particular flavor, called “Moosetracks” that I really enjoy. It is vanilla ice cream, with mini peanut butter cups, fudge, chocolate chunks, and who knows what else-I just know it tastes great. I usually have a few bites of my husband’s when he buys it. One night this summer when he brought it home from the shop, it tasted different to me. I figured that was because it was a bit warm and had melted. A few weeks later, I was dying to try it again, so I actually ORDERED MY OWN one day after lunch. (I NEVER do this!) Well, it was a waste because I took a few bites and threw it away. Once again it tasted ODD or off. I was so disappointed, and I still don’t get it! On the other hand, Bloomingdales frozen yogurt still tastes amazing. This is a treat that I’ve allowed myself a bit more often since being pregnant, maybe once every 2-3 weeks. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a soft serve plain-flavored yogurt. Yes, it still has plenty of sugar added which is why I don’t go there too often. My favorite is ordering it with honey and granola, a combination that my husband introduced to me years ago when we first started dating. Just for the record, I always only get a small. One of my Nutrition mottos has always been: Everything is ok in moderation!
On that note, let’s discuss bread. Before I was pregnant, I was moving away from processed foods and included very little bread in my diet. Now that I have had a bit of nausea, and I’ve found that I must eat a full meal before my morning workouts, I am definitely eating more. Whole wheat English muffins with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese has been a great, quick go-to breakfast in the mornings when I’m in a rush and don’t have time to make my usual oatmeal/hot cereal and egg whites. I will also have a piece of bread if out to lunch or dinner and I’m starving, BUT only if the bread is warm and delicious. Otherwise, I just don’t feel the extra calories are worth the splurge. Cold, hard, white bread or rolls do nothing for me. I prefer to stay hungry and wait for my main course!
Then there are bagels. Bagels had been such a rare occasion food for me. If I ate them five times a year that would be a lot. Then one Saturday morning I saw my husband eating his favorite onion bagel with chive cream cheese, lox, and tomato. It looked soooo good to me that I had to have a bite. I tried to stay away from the lox but probably got a tiny taste. (Consumption of refrigerated or smoked fish is not advised during pregnancy as it may be contaminated with Listeria.) Meanwhile: I HATE onion bagels and chive cream cheese, but it tasted so good that the next morning I decided that I wanted a bagel. That Sunday we attempted to drive to one bagel shop, but the traffic was so bad that we turned around. Then we tried another store one town over, and the line was out the door. Two things my husband hates are traffic and lines, especially when he is hungry. I swear: he is worse than a baby or a pregnant woman when he is starving, so we had to feed him quick! We finally ended up at a third restaurant, and I got my bagel. Of course, it was whole wheat, scooped out, with low-fat cream cheese and tomato. Definitely still high-calorie, but as healthy as I could make it. It was delicious! I made sure to skip the bread at lunch and dinner that day. And yes, I have had about 2 or 3 other bagels since then.