10w6d all you can eat…nope

People tend to think of getting pregnant as an eating free-for-all, but that is so not the case.  In fact, one of the first things I learned when I became pregnant was a laundry list of foods I can’t eat, including two of my favorites in the whole world – sushi and coffee.   And if you live in a city such as New York, where sushi restaurants and Starbucks line the blocks, it’s particularly hard to abstain.  While I know that most studies and doctors say that caffeinated coffee may be okay to consume in moderation, I used to be a 4-cup-a-day coffee drinker, and I find it easier to give coffee up entirely than to cut down to one cup a day.  But that’s just me.

There are also many other food items pregnant women are told to avoid, including the following from the American Pregnancy Association:

  • Raw Meat: Uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef or poultry should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.  Goodbye medium rare steaks.
  • Deli Meat: Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which may be life-threatening. Goodbye prosciutto.
  • Fish with Mercury: Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided. Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Certain types of fish used in sushi should also be avoided due to high levels of mercury. Goodbye tuna avocado rolls.
  • Smoked Seafood -Refrigerated, smoked seafood often labeled as lox, nova style, kippered, or jerky should be avoided because it could be contaminated with listeria. Goodbye brunch time salmon eggs benedicts.
  • Raw Shellfish: The majority of seafood-borne illness is caused by undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, clams, and mussels.  Goodbye $1 raw oyster happy hours.
  • Raw Eggs: Raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Goodbye eggs-over-easy.
  • Soft Cheeses: Imported soft cheeses may contain listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Goodbye brie and crackers.
  • Caffeine: Although most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is OK, there are others that show that caffeine intake may be related to miscarriages. Avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage. As a general rule, caffeine should be limited to fewer than 200 mg per day during pregnancy.  Goodbye venti vanilla soy lattes.
  • Alcohol: There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, and therefore alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.  Goodbye Bloody Marys for brunch, pina coladas on vacation, and wine with dinner.

And that’s not all.  The above list contain only the standard pregnancy “no-no’s” according to doctors and health experts.   If you are Asian or of Asian decent (or have nagging Asian parents and in-laws…), there are a slew of additional foods that you’re advised to avoid.

Below are just a few that I’ve gathered from lectures, I mean conversations, I’ve had with my parents:

  • Foods that are “cold” should be avoided, especially in early pregnancy because it is believed to lead to premature birth or miscarriage.  And by cold foods, I don’t mean the actual temperature, but food considered to create cold effects on the body according to the yin and yang balance of Chinese medicine. These include:  watermelon, bananas, pineapples and mungbeans.
  • Geese, crab, and prawns should also be avoided because they are thought to give the baby skin diseases.
  • For superstitious reasons, rabbit shouldn’t be eaten because it will give your baby a rabbit-like cleft-lip.
  • Spicy food will cause the baby to be bad tempered, so avoid at all cost.  (Because really, who wants a bad-tempered kid?)

That’s all I can remember right now;  I’ll add to this list as the parentals pass their ancient wisdom along.

All together, this makes for quite a heavy-hitting list of taboo foods that formed 99 percent of my pre-baby diet.  Now I completely understand why pregnant women have the reputation of being moody and grumpy – because we never get to eat what we want!

All I’m saying is that they’ve already taken away my beloved sushi, coffee, spicy foods, oysters and cold cuts – if they come after the last remnant of my foodie past – Cheez-Its – don’t be surprised to find this Mom in a (rare) double (middle) finger situation.

10w5d Dear Baby Z

Dear Baby Z,

You are almost 12 weeks old today!  Your Dad is so excited about your arrival that he went out and bought a red baby hat for you this weekend from Gap.  We both marveled at how teeny tiny the hat is…and worried that it may not fit your head, given that large heads run our family.  Hopefully Gap has a lenient return policy.

This week, as you are developing your fingers and toes (which we just can’t wait to tickle!), Mommy’s belly is getting noticeably rounder – or at least noticeable to me and your Dad.  Other than your grandparents, not many people know about your existence yet.  Dad and I love patting my belly at night knowing that for now, you’re our little precious secret that’s just between the two (three!) of us.  Sometimes, we talk about what we think you’ll be like – will you have your Dad’s laughing eyes and Mommy’s (smart) mouth?  Will you dislike the taste of celery (like your Dad) or hate the crunch of water chestnuts (like me)?  Will you love to eat (Dad) or love to cook (me)?  Will you have a passion for knowledge and facts (Dad) or a love for reading novels (me)?

All we do know is that no matter what you look like or whom you take after, you will always be beautiful and perfect to us.  (Unless you turn out to be a serial killer or a sociopath, your Dad wants me to add.)  You will learn as you grow older that love has a lot of faces to it, and it’s less what you look like but who you are inside that truly counts.  Our main wish is for you to grow up to be a kind, generous, fair-minded, and compassionate person, with a clear sense of who you are and the person you want to be.  (And hopefully it’s to be the first Asian-American Cy Young award winner,  your Dad wants me to add.)

There are so many things we can’t wait to discover about you and with you, and we’re both eager (Dad) and anxious (me) to start the next chapter of our lives with you in it.

Much love,
Mom

10w4d things they don’t tell you about pregnancy

There are a lot of things that people don’t tell you about pregnancy – probably because if people knew the truth, no one in their right minds would decide to have kids.  The truth is…pregnancy is not all poppies and roses, puppies and kisses, smiles and giggles.

In short, pregnancy is not pretty.

Here are some things I’m discovering:

  1. Unwanted hair:  I think I read somewhere that pregnancy makes your hair grow faster, thicker, and healthier.  That is true, but what they don’t tell you is where all this thick, luscious hair is growing.  The other day I found two strands of this thick, luscious hair growing on my hip.  Seriously?!  They were at least two inches long and seem to be sprouting out of nowhere.  C’mon. 
  2. Wolverine claws:  My nails are growing faster and harder than they’ve ever grown in the past.  While I’ve always had relatively healthy nails, these days I feel like I’m attempting to trim Hugh Jackman’s adamantium claws on a daily basis.
  3. Failing eyesight:  This is one that is mentioned in the pregnancy books. Pregnancy actually affects your vision – and not for the better.  I’ve always prided myself on my 20/20 vision, but these days I’m finding reading the blackboard menu at Starbucks to be a struggle.  Which is just as well, because you’re not supposed to have much (if any) caffeine while you’re pregnant.  So much for my daily beloved vanilla soy lattes.
  4. Dry, itchy, boogery eyes:  Not to harp on this point, but holy hell, I’ve had more eye infections and crap coming out of my eyes in the past few weeks than I’ve had my entire life.  In the morning, my eyes are so heavily weighed down by the gunk crusted on them that I think that I’m going blind.
  5. Man hands:  My hands are dry, wrinkly, red, cracked and swollen.  ALL the time.  No matter how much lotion I lather on them, my hands look like they belong to those of a 100 year old basketball player who does heavy construction work in the sun on the side.  Btw, there’s actually a name for this condition: palmar erythema.  Oh, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.  Just a another pregnancy curiosity.  Lovely.
  6. Sudden, uncontrollable flatulence:  I’ve complained about this before in a previous post, but I can’t stop farting.   A few weeks ago, I could at least make it down the hallways before letting one rip in private, but these days, they come as they will.  I’ve lost all control down there.
  7. Glow-schmo:  No doubt you’ve heard of the glorified “pregnancy glow” in which the expectant mother, whether from happiness or the surge in hormones, look especially healthy and attractive.  What they don’t tell you is that this waxy sheen comes with a healthy side of acne and random brownish and yellowish patches on your face.   So while you may have an eighteen-year-old’s glow, you also have an eighteen-year-old’s skin.
  8. – 10.  I’ll leave these to your imagination.   Now I understand why there are things that they don’t tell you about pregnancy, because some things are truly best left unsaid.

Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that at the end of all this smelly, hairy, itchy messiness 6 months from now, there will be a beautiful, happy, and fat…

plate of sushi and a venti vanilla soy latte.

10w3d Thirties and babies

It’s official: EVERYONE J and I know is pregnant and/or just had a baby.  Not surprisingly, most women we know are around our age – in their early 30’s.   I guess our biological clocks are all ticking around the same time, or, like me, our friends were also baby-shamed by their doctors at their last physical exam.  My OB gave me several scary pamphlets on fertility the last time I was in her office.   Basically, they all say the same thing – age 35 is the age of reckoning for most hopeful mothers.

According to this BabyCenter article:
In your early 30s, your chances of getting pregnant are only slightly lower than in your late 20s and your risk of a miscarriage or a baby with Down syndrome only slightly higher — but at 35, that decline in fertility begins to accelerate. Age 35 is also the point when Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities become more of a concern, so experts routinely recommend amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, or other detailed fetal screening during pregnancy from the mid-30s on.  Miscarriage rates also rise slowly but steadily as women age, as do pregnancy-related complications. A woman over 35 is more likely than a younger woman to have an ectopic pregnancy. Cesarean rates are also higher for women over 35: First-time mothers this age have a 40 percent chance of a c-section delivery compared to 14 percent of first-time mothers in their 20s. Experts say these increased cesarean rates are caused by pregnancy problems like fetal distress or prolonged second-stage labor, which are more common for older mothers.

So I guess it should come as no surprise that most of my friends and myself started looking into baby-making in our early thirties.  Unfortunately, we’ve heard from several of our friends that they are already experiencing a lot of trouble conceiving, and we know at least three couples who went through IVF.

When I think about it, the whole baby-making process in the 21st century is just so unfair, and this goes back to the point I made in my previous blog post.   I spent nearly my entire twenties, as I imagine most women do, studying my butt off in college and later grad school, paying my dues in the workforce, paying off my student loans, and finding the right man to marry (and believe me, this takes time – or in my case, 26 years).  I was no where near ready to have a child in my twenties.  But when we finally reached a (more) stable point in our personal and work life and can begin to entertain the thought of responsibly bringing a person into the world, our bodies are telling us that somehow we’ve missed the baby boat.

Totally. Blows.

That being said, Baby Z, Daddy and I are that much more thankful that you came into our lives at this point in our lives.   Thank you for making it easy on us.  I hope we keep saying that until you’re 18 years old.

10w2d Prenatal Vitamins

One of the biggest challenges of my pregnancy so far is remembering to take my daily prenatal vitamins.  And as everyone  knows, trusting a pregnant woman to remember anything is like trusting a child not to eat a plate full of cookies while you’re away.  Thank goodness, I have a daily reminder in my husband.  J has become a prenatal vitamin drill sergeant.  Unfortunately, the kind of prenatal vitamins I’m taking requires me to take them THREE times a day, which means J has to say to me “Honey, do you remember to take your prenatals?” at least four times daily.

It’s enough to drive a sane woman crazy.  (Sorry honey, I love you, but you’re driving me nuts).

Incidentally, not all prental vitamins require a 3x daily intake.  When I first found out I was pregnant, I just ran to Whole Foods and grabbed the first prenatal vitamins I saw, and it happened to be one that required me to take these green bad boys 3x a day.  During our first checkup with our obgyn, we brought the prenatal vitamins with us for our doctor to review, and she said they were completely fine except that they were missing a key nutrient:  DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid.  DHA is particularly important during pregnancy because the fetus uses the mother’s supply of DHA to help form its brain and central nervous system, especially during the third trimester. DHA can also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression.

So if you or anyone you know is taking New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal, be sure to take a DHA supplement.

For me, it means now I’m taking FOUR pills a day.  Ugh.

BTW, I’m totally not ragging on New Chapter Prenatals.  I happen to think three smaller pills a day is preferable to taking one ginormous horse pill a day.  Also, I like that New Chapter is made completely of organic ingredients, which I think makes them easier to digest.  And call me crazy, but I’m convinced that the reason why I haven’t experienced nausea or morning sickness is largely due to these organic vitamins.

However, it does not mean that after my bottle of New Chapter is done, I won’t be switching to my doctor’s own prescribed prenatal vitamins – which includes everything in ONE mega pill and once a day.

What can I say, if it means hearing less of my husband’s nagging, I’ll gladly make the switch.

10w0d 11th Week!

Baby’s now the size of a lime!

Your fetus is growing by leaps and bounds. And so is his or her head, which is equal in length to the rest of the body (don’t worry — all fetuses are top-heavy).  On the crown of that large head (and over the rest of the body), hair follicles are forming.  Your fetus also has skin so transparent that blood vessels show right through it. But fingers and toes are no longer webbed, and hair follicles, tooth buds, and nail beds are forming — setting up a significantly more attractive future.

(Source: The Bump and What to Expect)

Happy 11 week birthday Baby Z!  Mommy and Daddy can’t wait to see you again on the ultrasound in another week!  We hope you are still happily snuggled in Mommy’s belly growing happy little fingers and toes.  And don’t worry about having a big head (literally).  Mommy and Daddy will let you in on a little secret: both of us have abnormally large heads (sorry, kiddo, big heads run in the fam), but we think having large noggins just means that we also have…big brains! Having a big head just means that you’ll be that much smarter.  Plus there will be more surface area for lots more kisses!

Big head or not, you will always be loved just as you are.

Love,
Mom and Dad