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Fruitless Efforts

Jenny Feldon

My visits to the doctor’s office are always the same. Weight, blood pressure, pee in a cup, a quick listen to #2’s heartbeat on the headphones, a friendly pat on the shoulder and then I’m on my way. This week was an ultrasound, so there was an extra step to the process. I was about to hop off the table, new pics of #2 in hand, when my OB put his hand up. Like, not so fast.

“How much sugar are you eating?” he asked, scribbling away in my chart. I was instantly defensive. After all, I’m not one of those pregnant women on TV who hide out in the closet with a birthday cake and a spoon.  Ok, there’s the occasional vanilla milkshake. And the cupcakes I got for E to celebrate her first week of school. But really, I’m pretty good. Aren’t I?

“Not much,” I replied. “I’m a healthy eater. I don’t eat dessert very often at all.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What about pasta? And bread? And…fruit?”

Fruit? Of course I eat fruit. It’s healthy! Natural! Full of vitamins and water and stuff. It tastes fantastic. And since it’s been miserably hot the past few weeks, I’ve been eating more than ever. Counting on my fingers, I figured out I normally eat three servings of fruit…before 7AM. Then there’s mid-morning snack (apple), lunch (pineapple and mango, recently) and post-dinner treat (giant bowl of watermelon.) Yeah, I eat fruit.

For the first time, I was in the pregnancy doghouse. Seems #2 is measuring too large for this stage in the pregnancy, and my amniotic fluid is high. Yes, I passed my glucose test—but not “with flying colors,” as my doctor pointed out. So I’m been stuck on a strict low sugar, high protein regimen. Kind of like the Atkins diets for pregnant people, except without all the bacon.

J and E, who came to the appointment with me, were sympathetic in the car the whole way home. I went to change into feeling-sorry-for-myself sweatpants, and when I came downstairs I heard giggling from the kitchen. There they were, my husband and my daughter, holding two spoons and digging in to a pumpkin cupcake left over from a party this weekend. They looked up, guilty, smeared in orange frosting. I swear I saw Tucker wiping crumbs away with his paws. “This,” I said dramatically, “is the meanest thing you’ve ever done.”

Now it’s day three into my new sugar-free lifestyle. It’s more time-consuming (preparing protein rich breakfasts takes a lot longer than smearing cream cheese on a bagel) and requires lots of advance planning, a significant increase in my time at the grocery store, and excruciating moments of self-denial. I’ve been volunteering at the school book fair all week, where everyone is chowing down on homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies, and I’m stuck in a corner,  eating turkey jerky and feeling sorry for myself.

One of the best perks of being pregnant is getting a free pass to indulge in treats. No one raises an eyebrow; in fact, people like to encourage expecting mamas to eat. Feed the baby! Treat yourself, you deserve it. Turkey jerky is definitely not one of the “oh, go ahead, you’re eating for two” kind of indulgences I’m used to. More like double helpings of lasagna and full control of the bread basket at restaurants. And filling my bag with ten different varieties of fruit at the farmer’s market…sniff.

There is a silver lining. Even though my stock answer when someone asks how I’m feeling is “fine, thank you,” the truth is the last few weeks have been rough. If I’m being honest, I’ve felt like total garbage—just getting out of bed in the morning is a major effort and it’s downhill from there. Walking from one room to another makes me feel like a 150-year-old invalid. I’ve said to J, more than once, that there’s no way I can make it through another two months of pregnancy like this.

Now that I’ve revamped my diet, things have changed—dramatically—for the better. I feel less like a pair of pantyhose with a bowling ball stuffed inside and more like a real person. I have more energy, my mood swings have improved, and I can make it to 4PM without wanting to lie down on the carpet and disappear. Maybe I really was poisoning myself—and poor defenseless #2—with all that excess sugar. We’re both feeling better. We just might make it the rest of the way. As promised, I've included another bump pic (we got a better camera---thanks Dad!--but still no photographer, and I was stuck at school yesterday, hence the glamorous background of preschool bathroom...)

As long as I can figure out to feed myself protein and veggies for eight more weeks without going insane, that is. It’s been three days and I’m already running out of ideas. I can’t eat egg whites for breakfast every single morning, right? Has anyone else been placed on this kind of diet, during pregnancy or otherwise? I’m looking for meal ideas, tips and tricks…and moral support. Lots and lots of moral support. Clearly I’m not getting any from this cupcake-loving household!