Monday, April 30, 2012

Twenty-Four Weeks


Twenty-Four Weeks


The little Your Pregnancy This Week blurb should read, "Your baby is the size of an ear of corn and armed with a Taser."

More than once I've had to grab the arm of my chair and breathe after being struck by lighting from the inside. It's weird and a little scary. Either the baby is pushing on a nerve, or we're pioneering some kind of fetus-administered intrauterine electroshock therapy here.

If I'm lucky, the jolts will do something for my mood. There are many colors in my emotional rainbow right now, and they change without warning. Most of the time, I'm prickly and wishing everyone would just leave me alone. Then I'm irritated about being so irritable.

And oh the Braxton Hicks contractions! They get meaner every day. If I'm on my feet for long stretches, it starts to feel like I have a bowling ball under my shirt. A bowling ball full of wolf eels.

What else? That whole thing about keeping my weight gain under 30 lbs. (or even 35 lbs.) this pregnancy? Straight down the drain. At 24 weeks, I'm up 20 lbs.


Twenty-Four Weeks

Twenty-four weeks huge.
(Rob insists, "But huge in a good way!")

Here's what happened: sleep went from basically fine to not-so-much a few weeks ago, and I have since replaced resting with eating. Handfuls of Brazil nuts, while delicious and healthful and chock full of selenium, are not low-calorie.

I'm trying not to let the weight-gain bother me. It's not exactly optional, after all. Westley continues to comment on my size often—usually loudly and in public—and I bite down hard and tell him, "It's just going to get bigger." I think I'm telling myself, too.

Complaining aside, I'm very glad that this little girl seems to be so strong and healthy. Every time I woke up last night to change positions, she was rolling and shimmying. She makes giant, sweeping, belly-warping gestures. I like to think it means she's happy in there. At one point I took Rob's hand under the covers and placed it on the most wiggly quadrant.

"Wow!" he exclaimed. "Westley never jabbed that hard!"

I knew my children would never be completely alike. But I'm amazed by just how different this baby is from her big brother, and she's not even here yet. Except that she's totally here, in the middle of the night, when I want to call the cops on the party in my tummy. Quiet down! Some of us have to work in the morning!


But much like my ever-expanding body, not sleeping through the night is only going to get worse before it gets better.

.....................................

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big Brother is Watching You



1
"That belly is gettin' pretty big!" Westley announces every time he sees me.

This morning it was, "That's one big belly! It's stickin' outta your clothes!" (That's what I get for trying to rock a non-maternity pajama top.)

As I make myself a cup of tea, he asks, "How's that baby doin'?"

When he hugs me: "That was a present for you and the baby."

And at bedtime, he hugs me good-night and then leans over my lap and whispers into my bellybutton, "Good-night, baby. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite."


2
Westley has been watching me for signs of bumpiness since we told him I was pregnant at eight weeks. My current, obviously-pregnant state is endlessly amusing to him.

Standing in line at Trader Joe's yesterday, he looked me squarely in the midsection and proclaimed, loudly, "Wow! That belly is huge!" The woman next to us nearly killed herself trying to stifle a laugh.

"Just you wait," I told him. "It's only going to get bigger."

I don't think he really believes me. But he's having fun watching.
  
3

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Post-Kid Kitchen: (Probably Nothing Like) Chana Masala


Chana Masala

Full disclosure: I have no idea what authentic chana masala tastes like.

My first real exposure to curries was as a way of making a months-long elimination diet more interesting. Beans, rice, and certain vegetables were my primary "safe" foods. Simmering those things with spices, I worked out some pretty good bean curries (including one of Rob's favorite black bean recipes).

Once tomatoes were back on the menu, I tried my hand at chana masala. By which I mean I threw a bunch of chickpeas in a pan with some onions, garlic, tomatoes, coriander, and garam masala. This is still how I make my so-not-authentic chana masala most of the time.

If this were going to be a recipe, it would look a lot like what I did last night.

Chana Masala
Serves 4

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 large onion, diced
2-10 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (See note)
1 finger of ginger, minced (I used a piece about the size of my thumb)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
Pinch cayenne (or more, for the spice-tolerant)
1/2-1 cup water
Juice of one lime
Cilantro leaves for garnish

Note: I like things pretty garlicky, and our locally-grown garlic tends to be on the small side. If your garlic cloves are enormous, you might not want to use 10 of them. But that's up to you.


Saute


Heat oil in a big skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and stir until they begin to pop. Lower the heat to medium and add onions, garlic, and ginger. Saute until onions are soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, salt, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir everything up really well. Add 1/2 cup of water, or more if it looks too dry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover (I use a pizza pan for this). Simmer 30 minutes. Give it a stir every now and then, if you feel like it.

Chana Masala

Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Chana Masala
Served with its BFFs, roasted cauliflower and brown basmati rice.

.....................................

Monday, April 23, 2012

Twenty-Three Weeks

Twenty-Three Weeks

Time is zooming by. I'm really not sure where last week went, and I think I might need a weekend to recover from the weekend.

On Saturday, Rob and I had our first night out in several months. We saw the opening performance of Damn Yankees at the 5th Avenue Theater. I thought the phenomenal sets upstaged the actors, but we had fun.

And we stayed out very, very, very, very late. In other words, too late.

More than ever, I notice a huge difference in how I feel the next day (or next few days) when I don't get enough sleep, don't drink enough water, miss a workout, or otherwise slack on my healthy habits. Getting back on the wagon is hard as ever. As much as I believe pregnancy can be a time of strength and wellness, and not a disaster waiting to happen, I've still absorbed some of the pressure to treat myself as delicate. Never mind, of course, that 45 minutes of (light) weightlifting actually means more rest in the long run than 45 minutes of sitting around!

Still, Waaah! I don't waaant to. I don't haaave to. I'm pregggnant!

Outtake

My sitting-around time has been devoted almost entirely to reading. I spent the weekend immersed in Peggy Orenstein's book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. (So naturally, I'm wearing my pinkest ensemble today.) It's always both incredibly satisfying and deeply terrifying to read an intelligent, insightful report about why things I've always found vaguely creepy really are creepy.

I finished the book and handed it straight to Rob. "Your turn."

* * *

I probably shouldn't be reading rage-stoking materials right now. My primary symptom (apart from the giant midsection) seems to be general hatred of everyone and everything. More than once I've snapped at Rob for having the nerve to not know where something is in the kitchen. I wanted to punch the man in front of me in line for wearing too much cologne, and then the cashier would not stop making small talk. Even something as innocuous as the Curious George animated TV series, which Westley adores, makes me want to scream. I fantasize daily about strangling that whiny little cartoon monkey. And don't get me started on actual preschoolers.

Not my own preschooler, of course. Westley has been lovely this past week—except for yesterday afternoon when he decided he needed to cry about everything he hadn't cried about during the past year, and NOTHING Rob or I said or did was going to help him. My desire to hibernate with a stack of magazines, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and a green tea Frappuccino the size of my head was astounding.

I try to give myself the benefit of the doubt—it's hard to be cheerful when even your biggest underwear is too tight and you have to wake up every time you want to roll over in bed—but I resent the idea that pregnancy is turning me into a bitch.

Twenty-Three Weeks

.....................................

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bumps that Go Bump in the Night (and All Day Long)

Bellies

I am astounded by just how much this fetus moves. Westley certainly did his share of fetal aerobics, but he never kicked me out of bed from inside my body! Even in utero, he seemed to understand that nighttime was for sleeping. Not this one. She throws midnight solo dance parties.

Yesterday was yet another bi-weekly cervical check at my friendly neighborhood perinatologists' office. The transvaginal ultrasound wand and I are definitely have a thing going now. Yes, we schedule our rendezvous, but we spice things up by doing it with a different sonographer every time. (Oh yes, I went there.)

Everything keeps looking good—closed cervix, low-but-no-longer-previa placenta, big baby—but I'm sure I will continue to be checked every two weeks until the baby is born. Just one of the many joys of having a bicornuate uterus!

I really don't mind the checks. It's nice to see hear regularly that everything looks great, like I'm getting gold stars on my Healthy Pregnancy Chart. What I mind is the waiting. At first, it wasn't bad. I'd arrive for my 11:05 AM appointment, wait five minutes, get my pulse and blood pressure taken, wait another five minutes, and the sonographer would come in. Not bad at all, especially as big, busy practices go.

But yesterday, it was 11:45 AM before the sonographer showed up. Waiting is rarely fun, but being naked from the waist down and alone in the semi-dark makes it extra not-fun. Fortunately, I had my belly to keep me company. Which I guess means I was really just semi-alone.

I watched my belly move for a few minutes while the baby rearranged furniture. Then I started playing along. When I felt a bump, I'd nudge back. I tickled what I thought might be a foot, and I patted where I'm pretty sure her bottom was. It was a sweet and surreal way to pass the time.

I think the baby must have enjoyed it too, in her own little fetus way, because she was even more active yesterday than usual. She did a few tricks for my midwives that afternoon (yes, two maternity care appointments in one day. Lucky me!). Last night, she stayed up dancing even later than usual.

.....................................

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Food Journaling for Two: Some Things I'm Eating

One of the biggest differences between my current pregnancy and my pregnancy with Westley is how well I feel this time. I'm sure this is mostly a matter of luck, but I know for a fact that I'm eating better now.

Before pregnancy, I kept a detailed daily food log. I recorded not just numbers of calories, but also all the stuff you typically see on nutrition labels. Yes, it's a bit time-consuming, especially since very little of what I eat comes with a label. I thought about giving it up. But continuing to keep a journal of my food intake during pregnancy seemed like a logical step towards ensuring I was getting all the good, baby-building stuff in.

One thing I discovered immediately: There is NO room for junk food.

Of course I knew this already. But when you consider the nutritional resources necessary to grow a healthy new person, refined grains and sugar truly don't have a place in a 2,100-2,300 calorie pregnancy diet.

Which is not to say that I eat perfectly these days, every single day. Another huge difference between this pregnancy and my first is the colossal sweet tooth I've sprouted!

Pie
Gluten-free Cherry-Chocolate Mousse Pie = Delicious, not nutritious.
(Hey, at least it's homemade junk food, right?)

In general, however, I stay away from sugar and anything else refined. My evening snack is typically something more like fruit (usually an apple or an orange) and raw nuts. Because nothing kills a sweet tooth like a little protein.

Snack

I know I harp on protein a lot. There are a couple reasons for this. The first is that "Where do you get your protein?" is THE question most people have about vegan diets. Getting enough protein on a vegan diet is no big deal—most of us consume more than enough—but pregnant people really do need extra protein. Ina May Gaskin recommends at least 70 grams of (vegetarian) protein a day; Birthing From Within recommends 100 grams. That's a lot of flippin' protein, folks!

For myself, eating a gluten-free vegan diet that is also soy-free (or at least low-soy), protein really is something I have to think about, especially if I want to consume massive amounts. Fortunately, I get to eat a lot of awesome food in the process.

I've written before about protein shakes and how much I love them as a kind of "nutrition insurance." My current favorite combination is two scoops of SunWarrior original blended with a cup of filtered water, a frozen banana, and two dates. Sweet, healthful, simple. But pregnant woman cannot live on protein powder alone!

Here are some things I've been eating (and loving) lately:

40

Forty-clove Chickpeas and Broccoli, from Appetite for Reduction. This is probably my most-used recipe from this book. It's always tasty and just so easy! I love a recipe whose instructions are basically, "Throw everything in a pan, put it in the oven, wait for deliciousness."

Sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts. Poor Rob. He's not a sprouts-hater, but he doesn't ADORE them the way I do. I've been serving Brussels sprouts at least twice a week since they showed up at the Fruit Market. They're one of my all-time favorite vegetables, and roasting makes them even better.

Chickpeas

Chana Masala. Is this authentic? Absolutely not. I don't care. Chickpeas + tomatoes + cast iron = LOVE.

Lentils

Red lentils with caramelized onions, steamed kale, and millet. (Yes, I use that one white bowl-plate hybrid for everything.) This was one of those "I don't know what to make for dinner so I'll just throw some stuff together" meals, but we couldn't get over how good it was! I cooked the lentils with a bit of turmeric and added some salt at the end. The onions were an experiment that ended up tying the whole thing together. I want to put these onions on everything now.

Oven-Caramelized Onions
Serves 4 (maybe)

2 medium onions, any variety
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
Salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice onions into thin rings or half-moons. Spread onions on baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and season to your liking. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, nudging them with a spatula every five minutes or so, until onions are cooked through and lightly browned.

* * *
Also currently on the menu:
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Twenty-Two Weeks Five Months

Twenty-Two Weeks

Pregnancy Time is bull. It's like Daylight Savings Time, but more useless. The fact that people want to know how many months pregnant I am, and I have no flipping idea, but I can tell you in weeks and days and fruit and vegetable sizes is ridiculous!

And don't get me started on the whole "40 weeks" thing, and that you're already two weeks pregnant when you conceive. I understand that Pregnancy Time starts on the first day of your last menstrual period because many women don't know when they ovulate. But even if you do know your ovulation date—or, even better, the probable date of conception—the experts won't adjust your due date accordingly! No, they just take out their little Wheel of Fortune and dial you up a due date based on the 28-day menstrual-cycle-with-ovulation-on-day-14 that you may or may not have.

This is why I don't put a lot of stock in due dates. When people ask when I'm due, I say, "August," and leave it at that.

Having said all that, 22 weeks is the beginning of month five, according to this handy chart:

Timing Chart

So here I am, five months pregnant.

Twenty-Two Weeks

* * *

This week I moved a bunch of money around and paid for all of my maternity care, through the six-weeks-postpartum visit. I was elated while also having a teeny-tiny panic attack, kind like when I bought Rob's wedding ring. And because it never rains, it dumps huge, icy buckets, this week we found out we need a new washing machine, and probably also a new dryer, and maybe even a new car.

Where will we possibly find the mental or monetary resources to deal with any of this?!

Okay...deep breaths... Listen to the folk singers.

To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time to every purpose under Heaven...

...and now is not the time to worry. Now is the time to enjoy being five months along and feeling totally pregcellent!

Twenty-Two Weeks

I feel exceptionally fine, except that I get winded much more easily than normal. I work out most days, but I can't walk up a flight of stars without huffing and puffing a little bit. It's not a big deal—I am five months pregnant and hauling around an extra 17 pounds, after all—but it makes me feel OMG like sooo pregnant, you guys!

Adding to the sooo pregnant feeling is near-constant baby movement. This girl is a bruiser. She punches me all day long, often in the cervix. (Not cool, little lady.) She even seems to be on a schedule, getting me out of bed every day with a sudden onslaught of bubbles bursting.

Yesterday morning, I was lying in bed thinking how strange it was that I hadn't felt any movement yet. I waited a few minutes, and still nothing. Then I sneezed (hard!), and the baby jumped. I think I woke her up.

Conversation

.....................................

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Partners Are For Everyone!

Rob and I have been married for six and a half years, but I don't often call him my husband. I say "my partner."

Us

I know some people object to the word "partner" for one's significant other because it makes it sound like you work together. Well, guess what? Rob and I do work together, like a well-oiled machine! (Well oiled.) We're managing a household, growing a family, and we're working at it every day. We are associates in life.

Unlike so many words connected to people and relationships, "partner" is gender-neutral. Mention to your invitees that partners are also welcome at the party and you've really included everyone: male, female, and other!

Some people argue that a husband is so much more meaningful than a "mere" partner. While I disagree with this on an etymological level (partner comes from "joint heir," while husband comes from "master of the house"; which of the two has more meaning is open to interpretation), it is certainly true under the law. We tend to reserve the words "husband" "wife" for legal marriages, and marriage is not equal right now. A "partner" is certainly less than to someone who cannot legally have a husband.

When I refer to "my partner" in a group of people who don't know me well, I could just as easily be talking about a woman. People look at me a little funny when I do it, which is part of the reason I continue to do it. It's a great way of challenging heterosexual privilege.

Even after six and a half years, though, I still find that "partner" doesn't roll trippingly off the tongue. It's a little clunky, as relationship words go, though I find it vastly preferable to "spouse." (Ick.) Also, as much as I like what "partner" suggests, "boyfriend" is way hotter. But I think if I suddenly started referring to "my boyfriend," my family would worry.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Film Festival: 'Return to Oz'

"I can't stand a wussy girl!" When I was growing up, this was my mother's standard response to almost every television or movie heroine. She doesn't like damsels in distress, and many (most?) of the female characters in the entertainment my brother and I could agree on were kind of wimpy.

Whenever I heard my mother's refrain, I wanted to disappear. I was a wussy girl. Growing up, I was afraid of everything (except, oddly, scary movies). I'd had enough political correctness drilled into me to know I should feel ashamed of identifying with these fictional women in peril, but I really wanted to be rescued.

To paraphrase High Fidelity, did I watch movies about damsels in distress because I was afraid? Or was I afraid because I watched movies about damsels in distress? I would be tempted to say it was the latter, except that I also had plenty of brave girls in my movie and television library (and even more on my bookshelves).

Return to Oz was one of my absolute favorite movies. I thought The Wizard of Oz was fine, but even as a child, I preferred the darker aesthetic of its not-quite sequel. Rob and I watched it recently, after Labyrinth got us thinking about the fantasy sub-genre that revolves around girls and young women escaping into magical worlds. All of your Alices in Wonderland, Lucy Pevensies having tea with Mr. Tumnus, Wendys flying off to Neverland...

Fairuza Balk's Dorothy in Return to Oz is my favorite of these girls. For one thing, the actress bears a pleasing resemblance to W. W. Denslow's illustrations in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But more importantly, she manages to come across as both kind and fantastically gutsy. As a child, I never thought about Dorothy's bravery much, but watching Return to Oz as an adult, I was struck by just how unafraid Dorothy seems throughout the story. And it's a terrifying story!

Oz was a sinister place before, but now it's downright dangerous at every turn. Immediately upon arrival, Dorothy must cross the Deadly Desert, which turns all living things to sand. The Wheelers with their hyena laughs, surround Dorothy with the intention of capturing her? Torturing her? Tearing her limb from limb? We're never really sure, but these deranged circus performers with wheels instead of hands and feet are definitely up to no good. Princess Mombi, who collects the heads of young women to swap out with her own (via some pretty great early CGI), is not too subtle about her plans to behead Dorothy. Oh, and before she even gets to Oz, Dorothy is almost the victim of a psychiatric experiment in early electroshock therapy.

What fascinated me most during my recent viewing of Return to Oz is Dorothy's unflinching determination to find her friend the Scarecrow and save Oz from the evil that has taken over. If she's afraid, it never really shows. When something scary happens, Dorothy's first move is to remedy the situation. Captured? Don't worry, just find a way out! Headless monster lunging at you? Steal its magic potion and run like mad! It's like it never occurs to this little girl that she could totally die right now!

As an adult remembering myself as a child, I find Dorothy's fearlessness interesting, but it kind of takes me out of the story. But as a child, it was the perfect fantasy. I was never as interested in the magical worlds as I was interested in the idea being brave in terrifying situations.

It makes me wonder, however, which is more problematic? The "wussy girls" my mother can't stand, or the female heroines who are never afraid, even when maybe they should be?

* * *
More noteworthy things:
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Twenty-One Weeks

Twenty-One Weeks

Baby movement is my favorite physical experience ever. It is the coolest, weirdest thing imaginable. Like being possessed, but in a good way. Every time a little elbow or knee nudges me from the inside, I remember that there's a whole one-pound person in there. This is why we need "awesome" back from the slang world.

This little girl has been moving like crazy this week. (She flipped around so much during last week's ultrasound that the sonographer started to get a little frustrated.) I feel more movement every day. Every now and then, the baby jumps so forcefully that it startles me and I jump. Sometimes I see her move.

I'm almost certain the baby can hear me now. I talk to her a little every day and use her first name. (We're still working on a middle name. Update: BABY GIRL HAS A FULL NAME!!! A "runners up" post is coming soon, but we won't share the final name until she's born.) What she really seems to like hearing is music. When I sing Mike Doughty's "I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing," the baby taps along. She doesn't know that she already has two blue dresses, neither of which will fit her until she's old enough to pull up on the ottoman and dance.

My belly has started to get in the way when I hug Rob. He's only been able to feel a couple of taps so far, and Westley still hasn't been lucky enough to catch a kick.

Twenty-One Weeks
We got a little arty this week.

The only person who is more interested in this pregnancy than I am is Westley. Oh my God, you guys! He is an insane person! (He's worse than the grandmothers!)

Not a day goes by that Westley doesn't talk about how he's going to hold the baby, or play with the baby, or put her in her car seat—which is currently still his car seat until the booster seat arrives, but "That's okay. I will share with the baby." The three (four?) of us were standing in line at Starbucks when Westley announced loudly, "Mommy, I'm so glad you're pregnant!" On Saturday he told Rob and me that when the baby wakes up and cries in the night, he will "bring her to your room to nurse." Every time Westley hugs me he says, "That was a present for the baby."

Westley's excitement is very sweet, but it also worries me in a way I can't quite explain. He seems a little over-involved, but I'm not sure why I think this is a problem. It's not like he's going to reach under his chin and pull off the full-face latex mask, revealing his true identity as a baby-loathing, mustache-twirling super villain.

Maybe Westley's enthusiasm just bothers me because almost everything seems to bother me now. I am suddenly very irritable. Things that would normally annoy me (giant SUVs parked in compact spots, pushy four-year-olds, Rick Santorum) make me want to throw rocks. Things that don't usually phase me (a broken drinking fountain, Rob's not wanting to play in the dirt, expired coupons) put me into full-on pout-mode. It's extremely unflattering. Yesterday, Westley refused to turn off the light over the dining table when ALL the curtains and blinds were open, letting in beautiful daylight. "I need to see what I'm doing!" he whined. I nearly threw a temper tantrum. I was hoping pregnancy would make me a little more grown-up and assertive. Instead, it's made me regress.

Even through the crankiness, I am grateful that things are progressing so normally. It's wonderful to be feeling healthy. I'm especially glad to be past the stage of "pregnancy cravings" ("If I don't eat French fries with ranch dressing right now I will die!") and back to regular, everyday cravings. I eat a fresh orange every day, and every day it's the best thing I've ever tasted. I still have a tremendous sweet tooth though, which amuses Rob to no end. I'm usually one to want guacamole for dessert, but fill me up with girl-baby and I'm all, "Oooh, pie!"

Just not too much pie. Things are expanding fast enough on their own, thank you.

P.S. What a difference 11 weeks make!

Ten Weeks
Same striped top at 10 weeks...

Twenty-One Weeks
...and 21 weeks!

.....................................

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weighty Issues

I hop on the scale first thing every morning. It's part part habit, part ritual. Sometimes I'm standing on the box, peering between my big toes before I even realize what happened. Other times, I'm very conscious of the process: pee, brush hair, strip, "wake up" the scale by tapping it with my right foot, breathe in, wait, step, breathe out, watch...

If I miss a day, which happens almost never, I'm double-strength extra sure to weigh myself the next morning.

Pregnancy hasn't changed any of this. If anything, it's solidified the habit. Added meaning to the ritual.

Error

I will admit to having an intense fear of gaining weight. I've always been big. Always off the charts for height and weight as a baby, always the tallest one in my class as a child. I spent almost 13 years overweight and obese. Everyone is miserable to one degree or another during those pre-teen, teenage, and college years, but my extra-large body didn't help matters. Not a day went by that I didn't wish to be smaller. Thinner. Until one day right around my 24th birthday, I was. And I know this is not everyone's experience of weight loss, but achieving a "normal" weight improved my life.

At least, that's the story I tell myself. (If only it were that simple.)

Obviously, pregnancy throws a monkey wrench into my scale obsession. Gaining weight is not optional if I want to grow a healthy baby—which I absolutely do. I was able to be very grown-up and serene and even kind of okay watching the digital number between my toes go up, until it passed 150.

The scale has been holding steady at 155 lbs. for about a week now. I've gained 15 pounds, and I'm done.

Except that I'm growing a person, so I can't actually be done gaining weight.

The thing is, pregnant or not, I gain weight easily. Muscle and fat both. I can pack it on. The other thing is, I had fully convinced myself that this time, I would do it "right" and gain a "normal" amount of weight. Twenty-five pounds or so, no more than 30. (The other other thing is that I know the whole "25-35 pounds is normal and healthy weight gain for pregnancy" thing comes from the same medical model of maternity care that I want to stay the hell away from!) The truth is that it's entirely possible to do it "right"—eat well and stay active during pregnancy—and still gain more than 30 pounds.

That truth scares me. This much weight, plus another 20 pounds (or more)? It's hard to imagine all of that as "growing a healthy baby." Instead, all I can think about is how many chins I'll have and how hard the weight will be to lose.

Because I'm vain. Even when pregnant.

I gained 38 pounds with Westley. I lost 18 of those overnight in the form of baby, placenta, blood, and fluid. It took me six months to lose another nine pounds, and almost a year to lose the last 11 pounds (plus a bonus five!). Not exactly "nine months on, nine months off." Nevertheless, I did it.

I know growing a baby means seeing the number on the scale increase. It means not looking my best. I also know that losing the baby weight is doable—even with stress and depression and limited sleep and a tiny person to care for. But I can't deny the appeal of having less to lose in the first place.

.....................................

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Post-Kid Kitchen: High-Protein Porridge

Grains

One thing I genuinely enjoyed about making the transition to gluten-free was cooking with grains I'd never tried before. Enter amaranth.

Amaranth is commonly referred to as a grain (and can be found with the grains in the bulk section of your local health food store or Whole Foods), but it's actually the seed of the amaranthus.

This "pseudograin" is a powerhouse of nutrition. It's high in protein, gluten-free, and contains lysine, an essential amino acid that can be tough to come by in plant sources. Cooked amaranth is delicious on its own, with a texture similar to grits. But my favorite way to eat it is in this multigrain hot cereal.

High-Protein Porridge
Serves 4

1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup millet
1/3 cup amaranth
5 cups water
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon or cardamom (optional)

Rinse quinoa. Add grains, water and salt to a heavy-bottomed pot, and bring to a boil.

Porridge
(Pay no attention to the banana-oat muffins cooling in the background.)

Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes, stirring every few minutes so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Porridge

Stir in ground flaxseed and spices.

Porridge

Serve with your favorite porridge fixings.

High-Protein Porridge
Like strawberries and maple butter.

* * *

This porridge thickens a lot as it cools, like polenta. The cooked amaranth kind of "gels." I happen to like it this way, but if you have leftovers and want a more porridgey texture, just reheat it with a little water or non-dairy milk.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One Tall Girl

For about a week now, Westley has been asking, "Mommy, is the baby healthy?"

According to today's appointment, the answer is definitely yes.

Brother

Baby girl is growing like a weed. She has ten fingers, ten toes, two kidneys, a beautiful spine, and looong arms and legs. This child is seriously tall—in the 90th percentile or so. Just like her big brother. (And her mother.)

She weighs approximately 1 pound, 1 ounce, which I find totally adorable.

Brother

As of today, baby girl is measuring about a week ahead of schedule. (This doesn't surprise me at all, based on when I think I got pregnant. I was actually trying not to get pregnant. I either ovulated five days earlier than usual, or we're part of that 10-18% who conceive despite using condoms. Or Rob has Super Sperm.) But no one is moving my due date up. They're calling this little one right on schedule. And very tall.

Brother

* * *

The placenta is ever-so-slowly moving away from my cervix. Doctors like to see it at least 2 cm away from the interior os. Mine is exactly 2 cm away right now. If it doesn't move any more, it's possible that I'll need a Cesarean. But my hope (and the most likely scenario) is that as my uterus continues to grow, the placenta will just scooch up along with it.

My cervix is still nice and long, which I can't write without thinking "long, strong, and down to get the friction on." In two weeks, I'll be checked yet again. I'm getting very familiar with the transvaginal ultrasound. Cervix-A-Lot.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Twenty Weeks

Twenty Weeks

Time is speeding up on me. It seems unreal and surreal and other-prefix-real to realize I'm at the half-way point. I am in no hurry to be done, but it seems like we'll be meeting this baby before we know it!

In the meantime, I've got a super-active little fetus kicking me out of bed every morning. The dancey movements start amping up at 7:00 AM every morning, like clockwork. Then she hits another sweet spot around 10:00 PM, just as I'm trying to relax into sleep. I get a few jabs here and there during the day, but lying in bed just about guarantees serious baby movement. Also, those "flutters" people talk about? None to be found 'round these ladyparts. It's all pokes and thumps; nothing as delicate as a flutter. This girl is strong.

Twenty Weeks

One nice thing about looking totally washed out in photos is that it hides my skin. Everything is dry and itchy, except for my face, which is going through a wild, teenage rebellion 15 years too late. And pregnancy pimples are not like regular pimples. They are mutant pimples from outer space, and they are going to eat your face from the inside!

Fortunately, a little bit of skin weirdness has been the extent of my physical discomfort thus far. Yesterday I got my first tiny twinge of sciatic nerve pain, and my immediate thought was, No, no, no, no! I do not accept this! Obviously, I need to work on my pain-coping techniques. But I'm also calling my friendly neighborhood chiropractor today, without fail.

A little bit of pain at this point isn't surprising. I feel bigger and "pregnanter"-looking every day, and my belly seems to have experienced a growth spurt between last week and this week. On Thursday, I tried on my maternity jeans again—the ones that were sliding down a few weeks ago—and wore them around the house for a while. They still slid down. I took them off, folded them neatly, and placed them in the DONATE bag.

So I am now 20 weeks pregnant and completely maternity pantsless. I've never had good luck with jeans, pregnant or otherwise. Rather than shopping for anything new, I'll probably just keep testing the stretchiness of my leggings until they split open. I'll also keep my fingers crossed for warmer weather on the horizon, and a new era of maxi dresses and cardigans. In the meantime, there are worse things than looking like an ever-expanding, off-duty modern dancer.

Twenty Weeks

This might be the last week for the unitard, though.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Little Geek Love

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Going to Emerald City Comicon together has become a tradition for Rob and Westley. Westley is just now getting really interested in the actual comics part, thanks to Tiny Titans, but he's always been excited to see people in costume. This year, Westley decided he wanted to dress up too.

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Last year, ECC was a guys-only weekend. But this year, I was invited to join the fun. (Officially, I'm invited every year by Rob, who likes us to do geeky things as a family.) It was very important to Westley that I come and meet his "friends."

I thought he was being cute, referring to grown-up strangers dressed as superheroes and Stormtroopers as "friends." It was a four-year-old kid quirk, similar to the way he says "I have a friend of him" about any fictional character he likes or toy he covets. But Westley was right (as usual): con-going cosplayers are friends.

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Everyone was so lovely to Westley. And not just the folks from the 501st Legion, for whom being nice to little kids is part of the deal. Requests for pictures were met with an enthusiastic "of course!" People in costumes are generally pretty pleased to be photographed by almost anyone. The Comic Book Fans/People Who Know How To Sew Venn diagram has a bigger middle section than one might imagine, and these people have worked long and hard on their regalia. Many are suffering for their art-slash-hobby!

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This guy's button says "Cosplay Hurts."

But insert a tiny Sith Lord into the mix, and people were genuinely thrilled to stop for a photo. I heard several cries—mostly from young women in shiny bodysuits—of, "Aww! Mini Vader!" In addition to collecting pictures, Westley got his share of thumbs-up and high-fives.

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Children, especially those in costume, occupy an interesting space at Comicon. The event isn't really geared towards them so there's not much for them to do, but people are thrilled to have them there. Strangers offer to help with light sabers and helmets. People smile and wave.

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Rob believes all of the friendliness is a side-effect of getting hundreds of people together in person to share a hobby they all genuinely enjoy. I think a child at a non-child-centered event reminds people of their own joy, and the sense of un-self-conscious fandom that moved them to play dress-up in the first place. Either way, we're all friends here.

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