I always imagined that when I was pregnant, I would do everything right. I’d eat super foods, take prenatal vitamins daily, exercise regularly and read all the books (shoots arm up with a mighty fist). For the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy, I drank only sparkling apple juice, forced down bagels and cream cheese, and relentlessly chewed Trident cinnamon gum. My tongue was torched, and my mouth tasted so bad. All the time. I made all the wrong food choices, but everyone kept saying, “Just eat what you can.” So, I ate starbursts. My vomit was neon. I was exhausted. I couldn’t exercise. For the first time in my life, I was “underweight.” I asked my doctor if I could get that in writing.
I want to just get a few things out of the way. Prenatal vitamins taste like compost. What to Expect When You’re Expecting should be re-titled How to Convince Yourself Your Baby is Dying. Exercising is, like, really, really hard when your body is building another person. Hair grows so fast. Like, everywhere. So that’s new. And that’s about all I can comfortably disclose on a food blog.
Nobody tells you about the thin cloak of lies you have to wear during the first trimester (that is, if you wait until the 12th week mark). Sending meat back at a restaurant, in front of your co-workers, because it is “100 percent raw” even though it’s clearly medium-rare, while you nonchalantly conceal it with some salad . Telling your friends weekend after weekend, “it’s so weird, I still feel so sick…” Feeling awful when one of them asks if you still want to be friends after blowing her off for three months because you “feel icky.” Casually slipping (running) away to the bathroom at work to vomit in a public restroom, in your heels, and coming back to your office “happy to stay late to work on a project.”
At 8 weeks, the morning sickness had me in tears. I wanted to call my mommmmmy who had suffered through morning sickness with me for five months. Can we just pause right there? Five months? After her shrieks of joy, she assured me that it was a good sign and wouldn’t last forever, and that actually made me feel better. Then she asked to talk to Adam, who later told me that she said, “Can Lauren hear me?” He said, “no.” And she replied, “Morning sickness is the worst thing, like, ever. I wanted to cut my leg off.”
At a certain point between 4 and 16 weeks, my body turned against Adam. His breath, his skin, his pillows — everything smelled like a wet tetherball pole. He bought a dozen different scented soaps but the only thing worse than wet tetherball pole is “Forest Man.” I went onto one of those crazy pregnant lady online forums to see if anyone else experienced this with their partners and, as it turns out, some women would throw up at the smell of their partners, or even their own children. We both felt better, but also kind of terrible.
One day, I walked into Whole Foods and walked past a man who smelled like he had bathed in vinegar. I shot a revolted face at him, and then immediately felt self-conscious that he may have thought I was racist. I tried to casually look at other things in his direction to, you know, throw him off and then continued walking through the store, mouth breathing. About 100 feet away from the man, I came toe to cap with a broken bottle of balsamic vinegar pooling in the floorboards. I was a super hero. I could smell my husband’s hormones, and I could detect vinegar from across a grocery store.
Around 16 weeks – 18 weeks, I started eating fruit again, about 12 clementines daily. It didn’t seem like a lot at the time, but eventually, the acid started burning away at the lining of my stomach. I moved on to pineapple – that is, an entire pineapple – and now I don’t really mind that “I ate too much pineapple” feeling like someone filed your tongue with an emery board. I guess that was my “cravings” stage.
The food intolerances and sensitivity to smell have been replaced with sciatica, the inability to roll over without some gentle assistance, and the urgent need to pee 100 times per day. The other morning, I laid in bed lamenting whether to put forth the effort to get up to pee or try to go back to sleep. I eventually debated myself back into a slumber only to be abruptly awakened by the feeling that I was about to pee in our bed. I should register for adult diapers, too.
Now that I’m beginning the third trimester, the pregnancy symptoms are just par for the course, and I’m mentally preparing for motherhood. I’ve been thinking about the importance of not putting pressure on myself to be a particular type of parent like I did imagining the type of pregnant person I would be. There is a lot I want to do, but my body is changing, my energy is changing, and there are so many other demands to consider in the balance. There is a lot that is outside of my control, and I’m learning how to be okay with just doing the best I can each day, sometimes in each moment.
It was 75+ degrees in SF over the weekend. We sunbathed, walked on the beach, and the heat got me back into the kitchen. This salad is so basic, but it looks so damn beautiful. Painting the tehina on the rim of the plate is something we saw at a restaurant in Tel Aviv, and it feels right that the first recipe I post during my pregnancy is one that I ate shortly before we decided we were ready to start a family. Enjoy this at any meal and take it easy.
Serves 3-4 as a side
What You Need:
4 Persian cucumbers; sliced on a bias
1 12 oz box of colorful cherry tomatoes
1 heaping tblsp red onion; minced
1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsley; minced
1/4 c fresh mint; minced
crumbled feta (optional)
sprinkle of salt
juice from 1/2 lemon
Tehina (*taste as you go, and adjust to your liking; the tehina should should be the consistency of yogurt)
3 tblsp tehina
approx 4 tblsp water
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp honey
How To Do It:
Cut up the salad components, and mix them in a bowl. Arrange in the center of a large, flat plate. Take a teaspoon and a drag tehina along the rim of the plate. You can spread it flat or leave it artfully decorating the rim. Serve so that each person gets salad with some tehina. Enjoy!