Thursday, September 5, 2013

When in doubt, eat salt and vinegar chips.

Getting nauseous while being around students was bound to happen. It did, today, but I got lucky, and it was during office hours instead of during class. I am attending classes from a local retired RN (registered nurse) who has found that low salt intake is strongly correlated with morning sickness. In fact, most of the women she consults avoid morning sickness altogether thanks to her salt advice. So, early this morning, when I was getting amped up about conferences and publication with an English major of mine, and the nausea grabbed me by the guts and wouldn't let go, I dove for the salt and vinegar chips, explaining I was suddenly feeling unwell (my students all know I'm pregnant, as I think I mentioned in my first post). Instant relief. Awesome. I kind of feel bad about chomping on chips in front of my student. I'd've offered him some, but they had been packed next to a banana in my bag, and they tasted really, really strange. Maybe it's just the pregnancy tastebuds, but still. I didn't want him to think they were, I dunno, tainted or something. Because who likes banana-tainted salt and vinegar chips? I didn't mind it that much. My stomach was happy with the salt. And my student is an awfully good-natured fellow and we moved on like nothing happened. I'm still praying I don't throw up in front of/on anybody while I'm teaching or meeting with students. Fifteen weeks tomorrow. C'mon, second trimester... you're supposed to be the best! In other news, got word that an article I co-authored is being published in one of the top journals in a different field I'm also affiliated with. It has a respectable impact factor and everything. I'm totally chuffed. It's the first journal article where I'm a major player (I'm the second of the two authors). Big and little victories.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

60+ ideas for food to eat when you have "morning sickness" (a.k.a. all-day pregnancy nausea and vomiting)

Being an academic, scholar, and researcher, I have done a $%#@load of research to prepare for this pregnancy.

In fact, I kind of have a hard time not slapping people in the face when they ask if my pregnancy was planned.

Oh, you know, only down to the cycle.


Anyway, resources and research have been and are very important to me, but you know what I didn't find when I felt like I was dying from the pregnancy nausea?

A list of snack ideas to keep me, you know, alive. I went about four weeks on water, granola bars, and soda crackers (which I detest).

I was so sick, I honestly couldn't wrap my mind around what on earth I could possibly consume. I still can't, to be fair, so a good portion of this list comes from the mother-friends of mine who I e-mailed in desperation, looking for suggestions.

I am a huge foodie, so this was a problem. If I couldn't think of food to eat, how many others out there were starving away along with me?

I haven't been able to eat dairy with this little one, so I've tried to suggest some ideas that do contain dairy, but there may be some conspicuously absent ones, and I'd love to hear from you on those, and any other ideas you have that you think I should include.

For now, though, hopefully this is a pretty good list. Some of these are going to sound horrible to you, but hopefully, everyone can find one thing or another that they like.

My rule of thumb for this list has been my own personal rule of thumb. It has to be fast, it has to be easy, and it can't be too processed. Normally, I'm a pretty principled eater, but right now, I'm really just operating on any calories that will go down and stay down.

  • peanut butter and honey sandwiches
    • and variations thereof: hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, Nutella, etc.)
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • toast and butter/jam/cinnamon sugar
  • hummus and pita chips
    • for me, this meant the plainest version of both: it didn't sound good at the beginning of the nausea, but I devour it with zeal now at ~14 weeks)
  • salsa and tortilla chips
  • guacamole and tortilla chips
    • make your own if it sounds like too much: smash one avocado with salt, and consume; add a few drops of lime juice or white vinegar if you want some more zing)
  • bean dip and tortilla chips
    • no bean dip? Refried beans and salt make a pretty good substitute.
  • Spaghetti-O's 
    • I know what I said about processed food, but upon reading the ingredient label on these suckers, it really isn't that bad
  • salad with vinaigrette dressing
    • For me, this meant mixed greens with Greek or balsamic vinaigrette, and tomatoes. Nothing else.
  • string cheese
  • yogurt
  • bagels with cream cheese
    • vary it up by varying the type of bagel and/or the type of cream cheese
  • salt and vinegar chips (or potato chips in general)
    • not very nutritious, but they pack a punch in terms of calories, carbs, and fat and how much you have to eat to get said calories, carbs, and fat. A handful of potato chips got me a lot further than an apple did.
  • pre-cut fruit from the produce aisle: strawberries and blueberries, mixed fruit, melon... whatever strikes your fancy
    • because you just feel that crappy.
  • veggie tray
    • see previous
  • apples
    • whole ones made me gag, but cutting these up with an apple cutter or even a knife fit within my five-minute requirement
  • oranges
  • bananas
  • pomegranates
  • carrot sticks and ranch dressing
  • celery sticks and ranch dressing
  • red bell pepper strips and ranch dressing
  • chicken salad sandwich on croissant (canned chicken + mayo + croissant. boom.)
  • egg salad sandwich on toasted white bread (hard-boiled egg + mayo + mustard + bread)
  • shrimp salad sandwich on white bread (frozen cooked baby shrimp + mayo + bread)
  • crab salad sandwich on white bread (real or imitation crabmeat + mayo + bread)
  • cherry and/or grape tomatoes
    • I dipped mine in sea salt
  • hard-boiled eggs with salt
  • smoothies
    • before, I made these. Now that I feel like I ate an angry mackerel who just won't die, I buy them.
  • cold cereal and (almond) milk
  • chicken nuggets
    • from anywhere I can get them: fast food, restaurants, the freezer (microwaveable or fry-it-yourself)
  • french fries with ketchup
  • Gatorade
    • this is what I have for breakfast every morning
  • brownies
  • rice krispie treats
  • soft white dinner rolls (with butter and jam or jelly, or whatever you like)
  • pasta with red sauce
  • gummy candy
  • egg noodles with canned roast beef and sour cream (quasi-stroganoff)
  • Frito pie: Frito chips topped with canned chili, sour cream, and/or cheddar cheese
  • pizza
    • can actually be reasonably healthy if you shop it right: you've got your carbs, protein, and fat all in one
  • fake-a-pizza: tortilla or bagel topped with pizza/marinara sauce and cheese and anything else you want
  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • German pancakes/puffy pancakes/hootenannies/Dutch boys
    • obscenely easy: mix 3 eggs, 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 c. flour, and a pinch of salt. Put 3-4 Tablespoons melted butter in the bottom of a pie dish and pour in the batter. Bake 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Eat with syrup, jam, or whatever strikes your craving's fancy.
  • real fruit or real fruit juice popsicles
  • granola bars
  • crackers with cheese or cheese whiz, if that's how you roll
  • quesadillas
  • fakeadillas: tortillas with beans and/or cheese, microwaved until cheese is melted and rolled up
  • pickles (not very high in calories, but better than nothing if veggies don't sound any good)
  • pickled green beans/dilly beans
  • pickled carrots
  • stewed tomatoes
  • doughnuts
    • again, not healthy, but when you're throwing everything up, these are simple to digest and pack a great punch in terms of calories to get you to the next, hopefully healthier, snack or meal
  • oatmeal
    • preferably from scratch, because it tastes better and isn't so processed, but Quaker just tastes like magic sometimes
  • granola with (almond) milk
  • hot hoagies
  • ice cream or gelato
  • frozen bananas blended with (dark) chocolate (almond) milk
  • instant breakfast and protein shakes
    • I drank these when I was extra nauseous and couldn't even think about food. In retrospect, the dairy in them probably made things worse, but they were convenient, quick, and tasty. Throw in some ice cubes to enhance the flavor and texture if you wish.
  • morir sonando
    • this is a Dominican beverage. Take one cold prepared batch of orange juice from concentrate and stir it up with one cold can of evaporated milk. Sweeten to taste with sugar and stir with ice cubes: the colder, the better! 
  • sauteed vegetables
    • whatever sounds good: oil, maybe some garlic, salt, and the vegetables
  • fruit cobbler
    • canned fruit or pie filling, topped with one of the following and baked:
      • canned biscuits
      • cake mix and club soda or lemon-lime soda
      • crumble topping, if you're feeling ambitious
  • cinnamon rolls
    • from a can or a bag from the freezer, of course. You're not feeling up to making them from scratch, are you? Normally, I would be, but oh no. Not right now.
  • biscuits
    • again, probably from a can
  • scrambled eggs
  • canned soup
  • cooked rice (instant or not)
  • Jell-O (make your own or buy the cups)
Got more? Leave them in the comments here, and I'll add them!

And let's be honest. I've consumed a disgusting amount of ramen noodles, too.

Friday, August 30, 2013

So it begins: Week 1

It occurred to me today that I track the semester like I track my pregnancy.

"Week 1... here's what happens, y'all."

I'm fourteen weeks along in my first pregnancy.

I'm one week along in my fifteenth semester teaching at the postsecondary level.

I'm not sure yet why I'm writing this blog.

Perhaps I'm interested in the intersection of academia and motherhood, even though it's been explored before.

What it will mean to me remains a mystery, and I plan to chronicle it here.

For starters, I teach English. All sorts of English. I've taught first-year writing, persuasive writing, technical writing, and interdisciplinary writing, and variations on all of them. I'm not a tenure-track professor, at least not yet. I hope to be, someday, when the right position comes along and it's the right time for me. To be honest, I'm as delighted just to teach as Alaskan salmonberry plants are to greet the summer.

For more starters, I've never been so sick for so long in my entire life. Full-blown, gut-churning, vomit-inducing, food-averting, morning-to-night nausea started just a couple days after I hit the six-week mark.

For six weeks, I suffered through it with nothing but supplements, convinced pharmaceuticals would poison my baby (and maybe they do). But then I realized I wouldn't be teaching online forever. That was just my summer assignment.

I'd have to go back on campus, and soon. Really, I had to be thinking about planning my fall courses. Right then.


Cue the pills.

They help. A lot. And I feel my best first thing in the morning if all I eat for breakfast is Gatorade. All my classes are finished before late afternoon.

Before the pills, I honestly had no idea how I was going to get up to teach. I was lying on my couch for 12 to 16 hours a day, showering every other day (if I was feeling ambitious, and well enough), and subsisting on whatever randomness we had in our cupboards. (The fridge was out of the question: have you ever smelled a refrigerator while you were pregnant? It's like the rotting flesh of a hundred dead skunks. I exaggerate. But the effect was the same: sent me running for the toilet.)

Oh, did I mention this little demon fetus won't tolerate dairy? There goes my milk-drinking, yogurt-slurping, cheese-snarfing habit.

I don't mean to sound piteous or whiny. This has just been... different than any other semester.

Back to Week 1.

Week 1 went great as far as the teaching goes. I'm wearing Sea-Bands on my wrists (further nausea prevention: they're stretchy wristbands with a hard nub that presses on a nerve bundle corresponding to acupressure/acupuncture relief of nausea), and I catch my students following my hands and wrists more often than usual. I think they wonder why on earth I'm wearing wristbands.

I got ahead of myself. I told all my students I'm pregnant.

I really didn't now how this was going to go, and I needed a safety net in place in case I randomly dashed across the room for a garbage can.

Or worse, just tossed it all right there at the front of the room.

I used to worry about farting while teaching.

Now I have to worry about spewing Gatorade in front of 22 budding professionals.

Not part of the job description. What was I thinking?

Well, A) I wasn't thinking I would get this sick or that it would start to jut into the semester. But really...

B) Honestly, I was thinking it's about time I became a mother. I've always wanted to be one. I put it off for almost a decade, which is almost a decade longer than I wanted to wait. My professional life was just going so well. My personal life, too, but there was more I wanted, and I've always known what that was.

The timing was never going to improve, so with about four weeks of discussion with Husband, and eight years of research on pregnancy and birth (and a bit on parenting) behind me, I quit the pill. And got pregnant.

And I couldn't be happier!

Or more worried about vomiting in front of undergraduates.

Ha! That's new.

Week 1 went well. I'm definitely more forgetful than usual: "pregnancy brain" is not an excuse, it is a legitimate and bizarre befuddling of the mind.

I don't mean to sound arrogant here, but whatever: I'm just glad I had a pretty good brain before so I can function at all in front of all these smart young adults. A student challenged a quiz question today and I was proud to have handled it by subjecting it to review rather than bursting into tears. After the review, he had a legitimate case, and I e-mailed the class about it.

As far as the intersection of pregnancy and academia goes, so far, I haven't had to address too much, at least not yet. A staff assistant inquired if everything was all right when I said I couldn't lift anything, so I disclosed my condition to her, and she responded kindly and was fine treating that information with discretion until I have a chance to talk to some of the faculty members I report to, like our associate head, who I should probably inform because I'm due to give birth, oh, mid-spring-semester.

I told all my students I was pregnant. But other than that, the only thing I've had to deal with is lots of funny looks from students (not mine, the ones I encounter traveling across campus) trying to decide if this small but noticeable pooch in my midsection is just me getting fat or if I'm actually pregnant. I'm a little self-conscious, but that's okay with me.

So long as I don't then spontaneously vomit in front of them.

Pregnant professor out.