Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Learning to Share: Food Shopping & Cooking

How I spent my summer vacation: 
Fresh pasta with farmer's market veggies

While my husband and I share many household tasks, I claimed the task of food shopping and cooking as soon as we moved in together. I love to cook. I even love to food shop. I like to walk around the aisles of a supermarket and think about the meals I could prepare. I enjoy looking through cookbooks before going food shopping and then exploring ethnic supermarkets to see what less-common foods I can buy and then whisk into a dinner.

I realize that I'll have less time to food shop or cook with the baby, especially in the beginning as I (hope to) breast feed and recover from the birth. I imagine there will be even less time to explore new recipes. Since I find cooking and preparing to cook so relaxing, that's a bit disappointing to me.

So, this home chef is trying to learn how to share. My husband and I typically share the chores and errands. We've lived together for almost five years, but yet I've always kept the grocery list and prepared most of our meals. To prepare for the baby, we're sorting out how to share the food shopping and cooking to make the transition in June a little easier.

I put the shopping list on a shared Google doc and my husband has been doing the food shopping recently. I've even "let" him cook dinner a few times. Of course, he's a good chef (and did all of these things for himself before we lived together) and able to do these things. The problem is that I'm not so hot on giving them up. Sure, he's welcome to do the other errands that no one likes to do, like taking out the garbage or cleaning the bathroom.

I really need to learn to share the fun stuff. Good thing we're starting early.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quickening: Baby's Movements

The American Pregnancy Association says that some moms can feel their babies move as early as 13 or 16 weeks. I felt some vague fluttering, perhaps, early in the pregnancy, but I started to feel definitive movement around 22 weeks. Feeling the baby move has made the pregnancy more about the baby and less about me.

The morning sickness took over the first trimester and the beginning of the second. Once I started to feel the baby move, I felt as though we were connecting and starting a relationship. The movement, beautifully called quickening, is both reassuring and exciting.

When I eat or drink something very cold (like ice cream) or hot (like tea), I feel movements. I’ve heard mothers say things like, “Oh! I felt a movement so the baby must like (whatever she just ate.)” I’m not sure that the baby can immediately taste the ice cream or tea, but I’m sure s/he is reacting to the sudden change in temperature. I can only hope that it is a nice feeling instead of a startling one. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Venus of Willendorf

I can't help but think of the Venus of Willendorf throughout this pregnancy. Representing fertility and beauty, she is one of the first human statues (dated to about 25,000 years ago.) The statue was found in modern-day Austria.

Click through this PBS page to learn more, see some close-up images and watch two videos about the statue.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book: The Circumcision Decision

While some parents have religious guidelines they choose to follow regarding circumcision, others will be left to make their own decisions. In the United States, there's no definitive guideline to follow and parents potentially have a lot to consider. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the recent publication, The Circumcision Decision, are good places to start your research before you make your own decision.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced in August, 2012, that the decision should be left to the parents: "After a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics found the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision. The AAP policy statement published Monday, August 27, says the final decision should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs." Click through their site for more resources.

In The Circumcision Decision: An Unbiased Guide for Parents by Susan Terkel and Lorna Greenberg, you'll find answers to your questions about everything from foreskin's role to pain relief to the possible ethical and moral concerns of circumcising your infant or leaving him intact. To prepare for possibly having a boy, I found it useful to read through this book and discuss sections with my husband.

Click through to the book's website to learn more.

Thank you to Susan Terkel for the review copy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pregnancy Diet Resources

I knew I shouldn't drink alcohol while pregnant, but I was surprised to discover there were fish to avoid (too much mercury), soft cheeses and cured meats (which could carry listeria) and other issues to keep in mind. These three sources made it easier to understand and plan meals:

Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy from the Mayo Clinic

Eating for Pregnancy: informational book and cookbook (recommended by the Mayo Clinic)

George Washington University's midwifery services' Nutritional Guidelines

Pregnant, you'll probably have to make some adjustments based on your usual diet. My doctor clarified the "soft cheese" rule: pasteurized cheeses are ok. I was happy to find that I could still eat my beloved mozzarella (not the handmade mozzarella from Italian delis, but at least the soft, packaged kind in the supermarket.) Since cured meats heated to a certain temperature are ok, I've added some salami to homemade pizza.

The cookbook, Eating for Pregnancy, explains what foods offer mamma and baby, as well as offering some recipes to make meal planning easier. The recipes are from a variety of cultures, or at times are divorced from a particular culinary tradition, but once I better understood what I should or shouldn't eat, it became easier to tweak them to our preferences.

I've been trying to eat as much healthy food as possible - whole wheat breads, berries, kale, flaxmeal - but I try to accept cravings and be reasonable about it. Hell, sometimes this pregnant mamma just wants some fried chicken! Happiness and eliminating stress are important parts of a healthy pregnancy, too.

What are your favorite resources for a healthy pregnancy diet?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crossover Post: Elaine Petrowski on Meals for Mama

Thanks to Elaine Petrowski for her post on my Italian language, culture and cuisine blog, Fare La Scarpetta, about nutrition for new mothers.

Check out her website Tender Times Doula: Providing in-home help to new parents in the Northern New Jersey area.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Morning Sickness Foods

I tried to choose healthy snacks during the worst of the morning sickness

My morning sickness, which lasted beyond the morning, was pretty difficult throughout the first trimester and the beginning of the second. I was always nauseous: in the middle of the night, the morning and throughout the day. (And yes, I did vomit pretty regularly, too.) None of it was conducive to working, being social or feeling comfortable.

The doctor and various pregnancy books recommend eating regularly in order to help fill up the belly and stave off the nausea. At first that seemed really counter-intuitive. The last thing I wanted to do was eat.

Crackers and dry, plain foods were the best choices. I tried to choose high fiber, whole grain snacks. Every day (and middle of the night), I'd snack on fortified cereal with whole grains. The healthiest cereals were those with flax, quinoa and other nutrient rich grains and seeds. Later on, I was able to add milk, or yogurt, and some berries and wheat germ into the snacks.

Yes, sometimes I snacked on Fritos and other tasty, but nutrient shallow foods. I tried my best to wait until after I ate something healthy first.

I always keep some nuts, (mixed nuts with almonds and dried fruits) in my purse if I went out. I still keep some in the car, since the motion can bring those old feelings back.

Click here to read about nausea stopping Sea Bands, which also helped.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Prenatal Massage: Stephanie Roche from The Spa Room

Monthly pre-natal massages with Stephanie Roche at The Spa Room have made this pregnancy a little easier. Muscle pain (some of which I suffered with before the pregnancy), muscle cramps, and general stress have all been relieved by professional prenatal massages in a calm setting.

Thank you to Stephanie Roche for sharing her thoughts on prenatal massage:

It’s no secret that pregnancy causes several significant changes in a woman’s body. Among these, fluctuating hormones cause ligaments to relax and the hips and pelvis to become less stable. Postural changes also occur, causing the pelvis to tilt forward. A woman’s center of gravity shifts, and there is often much strain put on the back, hips, neck, and shoulders.

Prenatal massage – much like regular massage – can be largely beneficial and therapeutic for those who receive it and may be experiencing these symptoms. Not only does it help you relax and feel good, but it also helps to soften muscles, ease soreness, reduce tension, and improve circulation and mobility.

Prenatal sessions and the techniques used for them are tailored specifically for pregnant women and their ever-changing bodies to maximize these benefits. Furthermore, studies have shown that regular massage during pregnancy can also lead to reduced anxiety, minimized depression symptoms, and improved labor outcomes and newborn health.

Read more from Stephanie on The Spa Room's blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

We Are Fam-i-ly...

Car stickers announce family and gender roles. 
It doesn't have to be like that.

I understand that the phrase, "we're starting a family" is intended to mean that a couple is expecting a child or children.

The phrase doesn't ring true to me. Before I was pregnant, my husband and I were definitely a unit. That is to say, we chose to become a family. Some couples decide not to have children and that doesn't mean they are not a family. As an only child, I've become an "aunt" to more more than friend's child and I'm close with a number of people, blood relations or not.

A family is how you decide to define it: same-sex, opposite sex, with biological, adopted or fostered children, or without children. Here's to defining our own families!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pregnancy: Leg Cramps

The other morning I woke up screaming from a leg cramp. My night leg cramps are shocking and painful, but luckily they pass quickly.

The Mayo Clinic website recommends stretching the calf muscles, staying active, taking magnesium (check with your doctor first) or eating magnesium-rich foods, staying hydrated and choosing proper footwear. After the cramp, they recommend walking around, elevating the leg and/or taking a warm shower or massaging the muscles with ice.

I've been doing most of those things, but I suppose I can try to do more of them.

Did you have leg cramps during your pregnancy? What cures did you find worked?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baby Shower Idea: Wishes for Baby

A sweet baby shower idea
and departure from the usual "games"

At a recent baby shower, the hostess asked guests to write wishes for the baby on colorful hearts. Each heart had the beginning of a sentence. For example, "I hope you become...", "I hope that you...", "I hope you never forget..."and "I hope you get..." The guests each finished a sentence on a heart and then the mother-to-be left with a jar of wishes that could be hung on the wall or saved in a memory book. Beautiful!

What "games" have you enjoyed at baby showers? 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pregnancy Photos

barefoot and pregnant

family of three self-portrait

There are some great photographs and videos from photographs of mothers' growing bellies (see some cool examples here.) We're hoping we might be able to do something similar.

We've been taking weekly pictures of my growing belly. (Ok, some weeks haven't worked out, but we've been pretty good about it.) It has been amazing to feel - and see - the changes in my body. I've been standing on pieces of tape so that there will be some uniformity to the images for a project later.

Did you take pregnancy photographs? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Superstitions and Pregnancy

This short story begins with a large bird (maybe a hawk?) that periodically visits our backyard. I see him some  early mornings and I'm pretty convinced that we make eye contact. There's some kind of communication happening there. Hawks have good vision, right? So he might be able to see me up a flight of stairs and through a window.

When I lift my cell phone to take a picture, he usually flies away. I decided that being able to take this picture a few weeks ago was good luck.

I'm not a usually superstitious person, but being pregnant has made me just a bit so. Since I can't yet feel the baby move, I keep searching for external signs that everything is going well.

Perhaps a visit from our local rodent-hunter was good luck and means that everything is fine? Or maybe it means that something has gone wrong. Or, maybe it is the opposite: Since I haven't seen him in a while, then everything must be fine.

What I need to do is return to normal. Normal being a place where a random bird sighting only means that there's a bird (or mice) nearby. These hormonal changes are mixing me up.

The real signs are those measurements that the doctor takes before she says that everything is going well. I need to remember that. Meanwhile, every morning I might just peek out the back window to see if anyone is visiting us today.