Monday, November 21, 2011

Because Cheetos Aren't Dinner

Tomorrow I will be sixteen weeks pregnant, and so far I haven't fully emerged from some of the more unpleasant first trimester symptoms. I still get nauseous in the evenings, and I still need naps most days due to the fatigue. These symptoms are annoying enough, but what is most distressing to me is that they have caused me to completely lose my cooking mojo.

I made a lasagna a few weeks ago, and some pork chops about a week later. And, that's pretty much it for the last three months. I've either been too tired to even fathom chopping and mixing, sauteing and baking, or I've been so nauseous, I can't face the smell of the food I need to prepare. Additionally, I have that stereotypical pregnant woman's relationship to junk food. Maybe it's all in my head, but more often than not, I have to choke down my vegetables in order to earn a spicy chicken sandwich or a metric ton of pork.

This is all a far cry from where I was a year ago. I spent my Saturdays poring over cookbooks, looking up recipes on the internet, hunting down unfamiliar ingredients at Whole Foods, and trying a new recipe at least once a week. Admittedly, my enthusiasm had tapered off a bit by this past summer, right before I got pregnant, but I was chugging along, continuing to provide nutritious meals for my family and still taking pleasure in trying out the occasional new recipe.

I am making a lot of excuses, but truth be told, I could be cooking a lot more than I do. I'm still adjusting to living with my in-laws and trying to figure out how to shop and cook in a two-family home, but I can't blame that learning curve forever. My energy level is not great, but it is a vast improvement over how I was feeling a month ago. And, my nausea and food aversions, while not gone, have abated enough that I can be around most food without gagging.

So, what's my problem? This might sound silly, or even crazy, but it's like I've completely forgotten how to cook. I used to be able to make up a dish based on the sundry ingredients I had lying around the house. Or, I had an idea of what I wanted to make, so I found a recipe. Or, I had the motivation to scour recipes until I found one I wanted to try. But, now? I got nuthin'. I wander around the grocery store aimlessly, buy some yogurt for Charlotte, then go home with nothing that will help me make a meal. I have damaged or misplaced the part of my brain that tells me what the hell to do with rosemary or a shallot.

Here's where you come in. A year ago, maybe? I told you all what ingredients I had in my kitchen and asked for recipes. It was a roaring success. For me, that is. You got nothing out of it, I expect. But, if you would be so kind as to give me some of your favorite recipes, or even just dishes (I can hunt down a recipe)you will be saving my family a lot of money in meals eaten out and sparing my husband from taking a can of soup to work with him for his dinner. I'd like to start out sort of easy, since I've regressed so much, and recipes for things that feed a whole family, like casseroles and stews would be great for our current situation. I also love anything I can throw in a crock pot in the morning and forget about for a few hours.

So, ready? Set? Go!

I promise to return the favor if necessary, just as soon as I get my kitchen legs back.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Second Trimester Limbo

Last Wednesday marked the first day of my second trimester. I knew I should be happy. And, I was. But, the arrival of that day didn't bring the relief I thought it might. Sure, the odds of a miscarriage are significantly lower than they were even a few weeks ago, but I just can't shake the feeling that something either has, or is about to go, terribly wrong.

My last doctor's appointment was exactly a week ago. I waited for that appointment for what seemed like a lifetime. I was in desperate need of some reassurance that the baby was still there, waving and wiggling like the time before. The appointment came and went, and I felt great. For like a day. But, the anxiety came creeping back, and soon enough I was ordering a Doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat at home. We also used one when I was pregnant with Charlotte, and especially in those few weeks between the disappearance of morning sickness and the beginning of feeling flutters and kicks, it was very reassuring. It is scheduled to arrive Wednesday, and the wait is killing me.

The funny thing is, I still feel like crap. I still get horribly nauseous in the evenings and sometimes during the day. I am still fatigued as hell, and I still live in fear of anything even brushing up against my breasts, causing me to wince in pain. All the symptoms that I tolerated because they let my paranoid brain know I was still pregnant, are still here. But, they just aren't doing it for me anymore. I need more.

It's exhausting, all this stress and worry. I sometimes sit very still, willing myself to be able to feel some fluttering from within. I check the progress of the Doppler using my tracking number about twenty times a day, even though I signed up for alerts to be sent to my phone. Incidentally, it went NOWHERE all day yesterday, and I am very displeased. I count down the days until my next appointment. I analyze my symptoms and check on Twitter if anyone thinks I am hurting my baby by sleeping on my stomach, even though I already asked my doctor, and she assured me I was fine until twenty weeks. I obsess.

I hope this will get better when I'm further along, but I know myself, and I know that I will probably find something to worry about until the baby is here. And then I'll worry about different stuff.

In the meantime, I will do my best to get through this second trimester limbo.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Princess Prerogative

Last week was Halloween,and this year my mom was able to resume her tradition of making Charlotte's costume. Last year my mom got married the month of Halloween, and we all begged her to not try and sew a costume whilst planning a wedding and commuting to her teaching jobs at three different colleges. She grudgingly acquiesced, and instead bought a little fairy princess dress for Charlotte.

As a kid, I knew summer was coming to an end when my mom took my sister and me to the fabric store to pour over Halloween costume pattern books so we could choose a costume. It was exciting seeing our costumes come together, and they were always expertly crafted. My mom is an incredible seamstress. She even made my wedding dress! During my early school years I went through the Disney repertoire, choosing such costumes as Tinkerbell, Cinderella, and Aurora. Later I branched out into other arenas, but I remember my princess and fairy costumes fondly.

See, I LOVE Disney. I love Disneyland, Disney movies, and Disney...well, anything! It is something that connects me to my childhood in a huge way. And, when I found out I was having a little girl, I couldn't wait to share the Disney princess experience with her. I know that this makes me the opposite of progressive and enlightened in the eyes of many, but I really don't care. I have wonderful memories of playing "The Little Mermaid" with my sister any time we were in a pool. I loved my Ariel pencil box and my Belle nightgown. I played dress-up for hours. I imagined fairy tale weddings. And, I swear to god, one day my sister and I put on dresses and fancy hairbands and went outside to sing to some birds, convinced that they would come perch on our shoulders if we just looked beautiful and sang prettily enough. My sister may deny this, but I assure you, it happened.

But you know what? We also drove a tractor at my grandparents' house. We played war games in the desert next to our house with the neighbor boys. We went on archaeological digs in our backyard. We may have played with Barbies (not something I'm dying for Charlotte to find out about, but that's just my personal preference) but we were never limited by them. We were raised to do well in school because we would need our education to make our way in this world. We were taught to respect ourselves. I'm proud of the women my sister and I turned out to be. And, I see no reason why I can't share a part of my childhood with my daughter, a part that we both happen to enjoy together, without fear of pigeonholing her or taking away her power as an individual.

I can teach my daughter that it's okay to twirl around in her nightgown and ask "Do I look so pwetty?" as long as she knows that that won't be enough or all that is expected of her. I do tell Charlotte that she is pretty. I tell her she's beautiful. But, whenever she asks me why I love her or why I wanted her to be my daughter (the "Why?" stage can bite me, by the way) I tell her it's because she is smart and funny and nice. And, we encourage all her interests. Truth be told, she is way more interested in bunnies and cats than she is in princesses. She loves to wear her dragon costume and growl at everyone who passes by. She loves to help her daddy fix stuff around the house. Sure, it'd be great if she saw Mommy fixing stuff around the house, too, but that is unfortunately not my strong suit.

Happily, some of the modern princesses offer a more balanced and stronger role model for little girls. Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" is fiercely independent, clever, and hardworking. Rapunzel from "Tangled" is admittedly, naive, but also brave and struggling to find her independence. That doesn't mean I will shield Charlotte from the older princesses, like Snow White, who is just AWFUL. Seriously, that chick is useless. But, we can enjoy those movies with a little supplemental education. Long story short, I don't expect Charlotte to spend too much time waiting around for her prince to come, baking pies and sweeping floors to kill time until he rides up on his horse.

So, when my mom offered to make Charlotte's costume this year, we gave her a few choices (though I don't remember what they were,) and in the end she chose her favorite princess, Belle. I kind of love that Belle is her favorite. I guess as a Lit major, I have to appreciate a book lover in a princess. We had a few bumps in the road, such as when she informed us that she would rather be Aurora or that she would like to just wear her dragon costume for Halloween. But, I explained to her that because her grandmother was working really hard on her dress, there was just no alternative. In the end, she loved it. She twirled and practiced her curtsy, and I was in heaven. She also rocked her light-up Belle shoes until her feet started to hurt, and then we changed her into her tennis shoes, which was maybe even more adorable.

Mid twirl

Mid curtsy

Who knows what she will choose next year? Maybe another princess, maybe not. We will, of course, follow her lead and let her choose whatever she wants. But, in case she goes an entirely different direction, I'm just glad I got my princess fix this year. It was definitely everything I hoped for.