The First-Time Mom Who’s Pregnant While 3,000 Miles Away From Family
In our new series Pregnancy Diaries, we ask expecting women to jot down every pregnancy-related detail of their lives for a week. (Special thanks to New York mag and Refinery29 for the inspo.) Work-related conundrums, struggles with IVF and a whole lot of nausea ahead. For the fifth entry in our series, we have a 32-year-old New York City transplant who’s temporarily living in California. She’s 23 weeks pregnant with her first child.
Relationship status: Married — we’ll be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary around the time our baby arrives in June.
Profession: Managing editor for a women’s digital media company.
Money situation: My husband has about $130K in student loans from college and medical school, but I’m completely debt-free. We’re aggressive savers — we rarely buy material things and mainly spend money on food, rent, utilities, car insurance, gas and trips — so we’ve accumulated a nice little nest egg for major future expenses, like a house and this kid.
How long did it take you to conceive? Almost immediately. We’d heard that it could take up to a year to conceive, even without fertility complications, so we figured we’d casually start trying and see what happened. We were both really shocked at how quickly I became pregnant, but also feel incredibly lucky!
Any other details relevant to your pregnancy? My husband and I are originally from the East Coast — he grew up in New Jersey, I was raised on Long Island and we lived together in Manhattan for the past four years — but we moved to the Bay Area for my husband’s medical fellowship this past July. It’s a one-year training program, so we’ll be moving back to the tri-state area at the end of this summer — with an infant, which was not a part of our original plan. Talk about stressful! It’s also been tough at times to be so far away from close friends and family during a period filled with so many unknowns.
6 a.m. — Roll out of bed to take a quick shower before starting my workday. I work remotely on New York time, so my days begin super-early — it took some getting used to in the beginning, but now I love being done with work in the afternoon and having the evenings to myself. Plus, I’m already adjusted to getting up at the crack of dawn for when this baby comes!
8 a.m. — My husband has an “academic week,” which basically means he’s off. He can use the time to pursue any educational projects, and this week that means studying for his oral board exam, which he’ll be taking the first week of April. He gets up later than me for once (he normally leaves the house by 5:50 a.m.!) and makes me a bowl of Cheerios topped with strawberries. This has been a go-to breakfast since my first trimester. Even though I didn’t really experience morning sickness — just some occasional nausea and fatigue — there’s still something comforting about a bland bowl of carbs with fresh fruit.
10 a.m. — I finally spilled the beans about my pregnancy at work last week, so my boss Slacks me to ask where I’m registered because she can’t find me at any of the usual suspects. The reason? I haven’t created one yet! I’ve felt so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of baby products out there — many of which seem redundant and/or unnecessary — that I’ve simply put it off. Now I’m starting to panic that I’m totally unprepared.
1 p.m. — My husband takes a break from his studying to make us tuna melts for lunch. As a pregnant woman, I’m supposed to limit my canned tuna intake to six ounces per week, which I’ve been pretty good about, but I also threw all caution to the wind this past weekend when I ate poké (raw fish is supposed to be completely off limits). It’s the one thing I’ve missed most, so after lots of careful consideration — and much hemming and hawing — I finally took the plunge. If pregnant Japanese women eat sushi, surely I’ll be fine, right? (Spoiler alert: I’m fine.)
3:30 p.m. — Time for my monthly doctor’s appointment with my obstetrician. I started my pregnancy underweight and didn’t gain anything during my first trimester (in fact, I lost a pound), so weight gain has been a minor concern — too little or too much increases the baby’s risk of preterm labor. Last month, I had gained 8 pounds, which still put me under. My husband thinks I packed on another 5 pounds, and he’s right: I’m now 129 and perfectly on track. In fact, my OB tells me to slow my roll and aim for gaining a pound per week, otherwise at my current rate, I’d be up 50 pounds by the end of the pregnancy.
4:30 p.m. — After my doctor takes a urine sample, checks my blood pressure, palpates for the height of my uterus (now above my belly button), and listens to the baby’s heartbeat, my checkup is complete. I always leave every appointment with some homework. This time, it’s to sign up for one of the childbirthing classes at the hospital where I’ll be delivering and schedule a glucose-screening test (to make sure I don’t have gestational diabetes, one of my worst fears) and a Tdap vaccine, which protects the baby against whooping cough.
5:30 p.m. — My best friend from childhood was visiting from Miami this past weekend, so I’m catching up on chores. I throw five loads of laundry in the shared washers at the bottom of our apartment building. I fully expect to live here once the baby arrives and starts throwing up and peeing on everything.
6:20 a.m. — I roll out of bed a bit later this morning. One of the benefits of working from home is that you don’t always have to shower or get dressed, and I fully take advantage of that today by throwing on sweats. Since I don’t go into an office, I haven’t had to buy too much maternity clothing — yoga pants generally get the job done.
6:30 a.m. — Pour myself what little coffee is left in the pot my husband brewed this morning. He’s shadowing one of his mentors today and tomorrow at a medical practice about an hour and a half away, so I’m alone until tomorrow evening (he’s staying overnight at a local hotel). Caffeine is another pregnancy restriction — I’m only supposed to have 200 milligrams a day, which is about one cup of coffee — and the one thing my husband doesn’t love to see me consume, so I’m not surprised he took the lion’s share.
8:30 a.m. — Breakfast today is a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with granola. I don’t really get strong cravings for anything in particular, but sometimes my body tells me what it wants in a more abstract way — apparently it wanted dairy.
9 a.m. — Hop on a conference call and my boss nudges me to create a baby registry again. I assure her that it’s my next major project, and I mean it! Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been emailing friends who’ve recently given birth for a list of their favorite must-have products and then adding anything that sounds appealing to a secret Pinterest board I created. Now it’s just a matter of choosing a store and pulling the trigger to make my list publicly official.
11 a.m. — Find myself sitting cross-legged at the computer with a Costco-sized bag of trail mix in my lap. This is not an unusual scenario these days.
1 p.m. — Take the dog out for a walk and make myself an omelet with avocado, onion, mushroom and Jack cheese, plus an English muffin with cream cheese on the side. Huge meals are even harder to digest these days, what with my organs being pushed aside by a grapefruit-sized human, so I tend to eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
4 p.m. — Scroll through Instagram and notice the same elephant-print Boppy newborn lounger that every new mom I know seems to have in a friend’s photo of her adorable 1-week-old. Then, a few posts down, I spot it again in a snap of another friend’s 1-month-old. Guess that should go on the registry.
7 p.m. — While heating up dinner — leftover Mediterranean turkey meatloaf with a side of roasted broccoli — I decide to creep on my boss’ registry (she also happens to be pregnant) to see what she added and get some ideas. Lo and behold, there’s that Boppy newborn lounger. Now I’m convinced I absolutely need it. Peer pressure is real.
"No one wants the kid with nut allergies."
3 a.m. — Made the mistake of turning on the heat before going to bed, and now the stuffiness in the room has woken me up — and I have to pee. My supreme laziness usually overpowers any nighttime bathroom urges, but once my eyes are open, the battle is lost. When I get back in bed, our dog crawls up beside me and quickly lulls me back to sleep.
4:30 a.m. — Now the dog has randomly decided to start burrowing in the sheets on my husband’s side of the bed — his absence has probably thrown him. It’s a good thing he’s cute, otherwise I’d want to strangle him. I have a feeling that’s a refrain I’m going to be repeating often once our baby boy arrives.
6:10 a.m. — Hop in the shower and am shocked to see how big my belly has grown — seemingly overnight! I usually hide my bump in stretchy pants and sweaters, so the only times I truly notice its progress is when I’m naked or attempt to get dressed in “normal” clothes. Nothing will make you feel fully aware of your burgeoning midsection like a Bellaband suctioning closed a pair of unzipped skinny jeans.
9 a.m. — Hack away at my to-do list at work while fielding inquiries over Slack and email like a game of whack-a-mole. If “pregnancy brain” is a real thing, I haven’t experienced it — in fact, I feel even more clear-headed and laser-focused than I was before conception. My husband likes to joke that’s because I have half his DNA floating around my body.
11 a.m. — Snack attack. I munch on a handful of roasted macadamia nuts. I try to eat nuts in some form every day as I’ve read this may reduce the child’s chances of developing nut allergies. Because no one wants the kid with nut allergies.
1 p.m. — As I’m making a grilled cheese with avocado for lunch, I check my phone and notice a text from my college roommate. She’s 16 weeks pregnant with her second child! She’s already been a huge help in fielding all of my random questions thus far, but now we get to be in the same boat together.
4 p.m. — Finish work and catch up on my personal emails, three of which inform me that I’m 24 weeks pregnant today (I subscribe to BabyCenter, Lucie’s List and The Bump newsletters for helpful reminders like this). According to the latter, my baby is now the size of a cantaloupe.
7 p.m. — Even though my husband isn’t home, I still cook myself a proper dinner: tortellini à la vodka with chicken sausage and a side salad. The baby seems to like it, as he kicks around while I watch an episode of Gilmore Girls.
8:45 p.m. — Husband’s home! While he unpacks, I head over to Bed, Bath & Beyond’s site and finally pull the trigger on creating a baby registry (20 percent off coupons!). I add two Wubbanub infant pacifiers and that Boppy newborn lounger that’s been haunting me. We are in business.
6:15 a.m. — I tossed and turned a bunch last night, mainly to correct my sleeping position. I’ve always slept on my back, but that’s not an option after the first trimester — the weight of your uterus combined with gravity puts pressure on some major blood vessels. Even though I start the night off sleeping on my side, I always subconsciously migrate onto my back, eventually waking up in discomfort to flip. And flop. Again and again.
6:30 a.m. — Throw on a sweatshirt and slippers in the dark and quietly sneak out of our bedroom to let the dog and my husband sleep in a bit more. Pop two chewable prenatals and a couple of vitamin D gummies (I was deficient at the start of my pregnancy, so I take an extra supplement), pour myself some coffee and get to work.
7:30 a.m. — Get an email from What to Expect about how I should be crafting a birth plan and start to panic. All I know is that I’ll be delivering in a hospital with my husband in the room and that I want an epidural. My husband is an anesthesiologist and quite skilled at administering them, but I’m pretty sure requesting to have him do mine won’t fly. At least he can supervise.
8 a.m. — Back at it again with the strawberry-topped Cheerios. I munch on them at my computer while signing up for Motherly, a new newsletter my boss recommended. Because I’m not subscribed to enough pregnancy newsletters yet.
11:30 a.m. — Some annoying issues crop up at work and I have to remind myself not to get too aggravated, lest my blood pressure shoot through the roof (not good for the baby). Sometimes I feel like everyone’s camp counselor, so I guess I’ve been practicing for this whole mom thing longer than I realize.
12:30 p.m. — The husband heats up bolani — spinach-stuffed Afghani flatbreads that we get from our local farmer’s market — and tops them with sour cream and cilantro pesto for lunch. I cap the meal off with a cara cara orange, also from the farmer’s market. The baby does a happy dance at the surge of vitamin C.
3:45 p.m. — Finish work and hop in the shower. Once again, I’m floored at the sight of my rapidly changing body — my belly wasn’t this big and round yesterday, was it? I slather some Skinfix Ultra Rich Body Butter on the bump in the hopes that the deep hydration will help prevent stretch marks (so far, it seems to be effective).
5:30 p.m. — Stare at my open closet with a sense of dread. We’re going out to dinner with friends tonight, so I actually have to get dressed like a real person. Opt for a pair of Mavi drawstring jeans that I actually owned pre-pregnancy and an equally forgiving turtleneck sweater.
7:30 p.m. — Meet up with said friends at a Japanese fusion restaurant, where we remove our shoes before tucking into miso soup, udon noodles and clay pot rice bowls. Prior to our cross-country move, I had a couple of old co-workers and some family already living in the Bay Area, but we’ve since expanded our network to include some new friends made through mutual acquaintances back home. We hang out with this particular couple, who coincidentally live within walking distance of our apartment, most frequently and will likely ask them to dog sit for us when I go into labor.
9 p.m. — Head over to their apartment for some drinks and continued conversation. Since I can’t partake in the beers they’re having, our hosts make me citron-honey tea, which I honestly prefer to alcohol — it’s not something I miss, as I’ve never been much of a drinker.
"Sometimes I feel like everyone’s camp counselor, so I guess I’ve been practicing for this whole mom thing longer than I realize."
8 a.m. — It’s Saturday, so I sleep in and take my sweet time getting out of bed by scrolling through emails and Instagram on my phone. The dog senses I’m awake, so he excitedly pounces on me and licks my face, eventually curling up next to my belly. It’s moments like these when I wonder if he knows I’m pregnant; other times, he’ll jump or stand on my uterus and I’m convinced he’s stupidly unaware.
8:30 a.m. — Make myself a bowl of granola-topped Greek yogurt and curl up the couch to read the labor and delivery chapter of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Learn about episiotomy, vacuum extraction and perineal massage. Nope, nope, nope.
9 a.m. — Am wincing with my legs tightly crossed while reading about all of the stages of labor. It sounds endless and exhausting, and I ask my husband if he can just do it all for me. He merely makes a slicing motion in the air to denote a Caesarean. “That’s my medical recommendation,” he says, and he’s only half joking.
12:30 p.m. — Drive into town to grab a vanilla latte from Starbucks (my weekend treat) and turkey-avocado sandwiches from a local bakery. Deli meats are another pregnancy no-no, but my practitioner signed off on them in moderation since the only real concern is nitrates. Seriously, can a girl live?
1:30 p.m. — Go for a nice little family hike with the dog at a nearby nature preserve, which is all wide-open blue skies and rolling green hills dotted with yellow wildflowers. California is so dumbfoundingly beautiful it’ll be hard to leave, but I couldn’t imagine raising our kid so far away from family. I plan on soaking up our surroundings as much as I possibly can while we’re still here, bloated belly be damned.
3:45 p.m. — Return home and pick up a call from my mom. I’m an only child and very close to her, so I speak on the phone with her daily. She asks me if there’s a weekend in April I’d be free for her to come out for a baby-gear shopping spree, but I assure her there’s not much to buy — we’re keeping it to the bare essentials since we’ll have to ship anything we purchase across the country. When I really need her most is in June, when the baby arrives, and she’s generously offered to stay as long as I need her. The tricky part will be figuring out when my parents should fly out. The week of my due date? As soon as I feel the first pangs of labor? We decide to put a pin in that quandary for another day.
4:15 p.m. — Start combing through one of the many emails I received from friends with product recommendations, and it turns out I will need a ton of stuff right off the bat — just not necessarily the kind I was expecting. Extra-thick maxi pads for postpartum bleeding, control-top underwear to contain tummy sagging, nursing pads to combat leaking breasts. Oh. My. God.
6:30 p.m. — Since we ate out a ton last weekend while my friend was in town, I decide to cook dinner: chicken cutlets with roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes. I enjoy cooking and wonder if I’ll be able to do it as frequently once the baby arrives. Only time will tell.
8:15 p.m. — Settle on the couch with the husband and dog for a night of Apple TV binging. We catch up on the latest episode of Homeland, then consider watching Minions, but I reason we should stick to adult stuff while we still can. We opt for American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson instead and get two episodes deep until my husband passes out.
4 a.m. — My bladder is screaming at me, and it’s sadly not something I can ignore. I woefully drag myself out of bed to hit the bathroom.
8 a.m. — Wake up to the dog bouncing on me after returning from his morning walk. I naturally can’t sleep in any later on the weekends, so it’s a welcome way to start my day.
9 a.m. — Hit the Sunday farmers market in town to stock up on fresh produce for the week. Getting my daily fill of fruits and veggies has been easier than ever thanks to how abundant and available they are year-round in California. It’s actually pretty fortuitous that we happen to be living here while I’m pregnant since eating healthy requires almost no effort.
10 a.m. — Drive to the grocery store to pick up additional provisions that we couldn’t find at the market (mostly dry goods). Swing by the in-store Starbucks for a vanilla latte on my way out.
12:15 p.m. — Try out a new recipe for avocado egg salad to make sandwiches on herbed ciabatta rolls we picked up at the market for lunch. Both the husband and baby approve, as they each do their own little happy dance.
2 p.m. — Roll out our exercise mat in the living room to do a prenatal yoga routine. There are a ton of great ones on YouTube (for free!), and today I choose a 30-minute sequence from Paula Lay Yoga aimed at alleviating lower-back pain — something I’ve started to experience, albeit mildly. The stretches feel amazing for my hips, sides and pelvic area.
3:30 p.m. — It’s Oscars night, which means I’m online helping out with red carpet coverage for work. It’s definitely not as leisurely as watching the show at a viewing party, but my husband makes us a plate of grapes, salami, cheese, carrots, pretzels and hummus, so at least we have snacks.
7:30 p.m. — Most of the frenzy has died down, so I take a dinner break. My husband cooked us chicken tacos, his specialty, and we watch the rest of the show from our dining room table. When the director of Sing dedicates his award to “the only people who can make the world a better place for us: kids,” I get choked up like a loser. I blame it on the hormones.
"My bladder is screaming at me, and it’s sadly not something I can ignore."
6:10 a.m. — Wake up from another restless night of tossing and turning. The pressure of side-sleeping is really starting to weigh on my hips, and I’m considering busting out my Snoogle pregnancy pillow. I had tried using it once before late in my first trimester, but I wasn’t so uncomfortable without it to justify how much room it takes up in the bed. Now I’m thinking my husband and dog will just have to deal with sleeping beside an enormous down-filled snake.
8 a.m. — I had an early morning conference call, so I’m only now able to pour myself some coffee and Cheerios. Sweet relief!
11 a.m. — Randomly get a taste for pretzels in my mouth and surrender to my weird biological cues. This is how I’ve personally experienced cravings: a mild sensory suggestion, rather than an unrelenting, urgent need to consume something OR DIE. In fact, they go away fairly quickly, even if left unsatisfied; it once took me a full 24 hours to figure out that my phantom taste buds were telling me to eat vanilla wafer cookies, and by then I was totally disinterested.
12:30 p.m. — Walk the dog and scarf down a Mediterranean-style salad as I get back to work. The combo of spinach, grilled chicken, feta, chickpeas, kalamata olives, cucumber, onion and sundried tomatoes has been our go-to lunch for years, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way during my first trimester. Ever since then, it’s been a little tainted for me.
2 p.m. — My lower back is starting to bug me from sitting all day at a desk chair, so I relocate with my computer to the couch and wrap the Snoogle around myself for lumbar/laptop support. Once again, working from home has its perks.
5:30 p.m. — Chat with my mom on the phone. She mentions my cousin recently hired an au pair, and we get on the topic of child care — something that utterly confounds me. How early can you entrust an infant to a stranger and how the hell do people afford it? I guess if others can figure it out, so can I.
6:15 p.m. — Fall into a Graco Pack ‘n Play click hole (did you know there are 159 versions on the market?!) and get a later start on dinner than I would’ve liked, but at least I’m able to turn things around fairly quickly. In an hour, I have paprika-spiced pork chops, roasted Brussels sprouts and garlic-roasted carrots on the table.
10 p.m. — Cap off the night with cookies and milk and an episode of The People v. O.J. My eyes are so heavy, I barely make it through the whole show so I shuffle off to bed. I wedge a pillow between my legs for extra support, turn off the lights and hope for the best
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Originally posted on StyleCaster.