Sunday, October 11, 2015

Flying while Pregnant (and Anxious)

I hate flying. Loathe it. When I'm in other unpleasant situations, I think, It could be worse. I could be on a plane right now. So when I'm on a plane, there's really nowhere to go mentally. Sometimes I think about people who've been tortured and figure that must be worse because that's the only thing I can think of. I wish I were joking.

I thought I should just be one of those people who don't fly. I've met several of them, and their lives seem fairly complete. I don't have a strong sense of wanderlust. With my nomadic life, though, not flying isn't a good option if I ever want to see certain people again. I also don't like that there's something I can't do, like I've taken the option away from myself. I don't want to rule anything out.

Before my recent trip in August, I had figured the next time I decided to fly, I'd take some strong medication. That might have worked, but being pregnant put a kink in that plan.

To give you some indication, I made my flight reservations to Kansas City almost a month in advance, and that's basically when I started feeling the anxiety. My triggers are:

1. Lots of people
2. No escape, limited movement
3. Other people's anxiety
4. Motion sickness (this usually happens after the plane lands, but I do occasionally get queasy during the flight)
5. The sound of people around me (it reminds me they're there) and the engines of the plane (especially at takeoff)

Here are some things I did to offset those triggers, knowing I can't really avoid any of them:
  • Ear plugs: This was ridiculously easy and made a noticeable difference. It muffled the sounds of the plane and the people around me. Takeoffs were much more tolerable. Plus, some people say ear plugs help alleviate motion sickness. Each time I took them out, when we were taxiing to the gate, I marveled at how loud the plane and the people were. Listening to music on headphones works for some, but when I get anxious, my senses are easily overstimulated, so I really prefer silence.  
  • First class: The extra space was nice, although I'm not sure it was worth the extra $200 or so. Generally, everybody in first class is more relaxed and comfortable, which put me at ease. I sat as close to the front as possible so I didn't have to see the other 100 people on the plane. Except on one very small plane, the first class section had its own bathroom, and since there are fewer people in the first class section, it was almost always available if needed. I've also read you feel less movement/turbulence the closer to the front you sit. 
  • Red eye: On my way to Kansas City, I was able to fly out at about midnight. It's inconvenient, but when the plane is dark and everyone (else) is sleeping, it's calm, and I think time passes more quickly. Again, regarding the plane's movement, you'll probably have a smoother ride if you fly at night or early morning when the air temperature is more consistent.
  • Staying busy before flights: I walked around the terminal or worked on a simple knitting project (TSA says knitting needles are okay on flights).
  • Ginger chews: The day before my flight, I made some, but there are stores that sell them. They taste good and alleviate motion sickness. I ate a few throughout the day before I flew and again during layovers. While I normally feel queasy during the car ride after I land, this time I didn't feel bad at all. In Salt Lake City, after a bumpy landing, I was feeling kind of gross, but I took a chew and felt much better for my last leg.
  • Rescue Remedy: My midwife recommended this. I'd tried the mouth spray in the past with disappointing results. This time, I bought the drops that you put into water, and I think it worked better. I drank it in the days before my flight and the day of, and I found it didn't work right away but probably within 20-30 minutes (yes, it could have been a coincidence or placebo, but I'll take what I can get).  
  • This isn't so much about flight anxiety, but I always bring a change of clothes on the plane with me. A few times, I've had my luggage arrive several hours after I did, and it added to my discomfort being away from home after traveling all day without the ability to change into clean clothes. At a minimum, I carry on pajamas or comfortable lounging clothes and a change of underwear. 
I won't say these actions together made an enormous difference, but they helped and they made me feel I was doing something instead of being a victim to my own mind. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cajun-Inspired Red Bean Pasta

One of my Facebook friends posted a recipe video for a Cajun-style pasta that looked ridiculously good, except for all the chicken and sausage in it. I've pretty much gone back to a vegetarian diet now that I'm having zero problems eating and gaining weight, so I thought I'd turn a red beans and rice recipe into a red beans and pasta recipe. It worked out well because I'd just bought an enormous package of pasta from Costco, and we had green bell peppers from our CSA that we needed to use up.

Adapted from Budget Bytes Vegan Red Beans and Rice. Makes about 6 servings. 

1/2 lb. dry kidney beans
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 medium bell pepper (green in my case)
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth + water or broth to add as necessary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 whole bay leaf
1/4 Tsp paprika
Black pepper, to taste (a few pinches)
A couple pinches cayenne pepper
6-8 oz whole wheat pasta (spaghetti for me)
salt to taste
  • Prepare the kidney beans. I cooked them earlier in the day, simmering them on low until soft, making sure to keep the water level above the beans as they cooked. You can also soak them overnight, then increase the simmering time in the recipe to a couple hours. After pre-cooking or pre-soaking them, rinse them in a colander before adding to the recipe.
  • In a large pot, sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic until soft. Add the 3 cups of broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the rinsed beans. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • With a wooden spoon, smash half of the beans to make the mixture a little thicker (you can also blend some of the mixture). Then add the pasta to the pot.
  • You might need to add a little water or broth at this point to accommodate the pasta. I added about 1 3/4 cup of water. Cook the pasta to your desired firmness (around 20 minutes). 
  • Add a little salt to taste before serving. I also added a bit more cayenne because I like it spicy. 
In the future, I'd probably use a little more garlic and add some mushrooms, but this was a happy experiment. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Project 333: Maternity Edition

Mirror selfies! I forgot to put on shoes with my jeans. That's pretty much how I look anyway.

About a year ago, I first wrote about Project 333 and my pared-down wardrobe. Since then, while I haven't kept close tabs, I have kept my wardrobe pretty slim. In fact, now, I find idly browsing for clothes annoying, but with my growing body, I've had to buy several new items of clothing.  

My sister-in-law gave me a bunch of her maternity clothes, which was awesome, and wearing a BeBand kept me from having to run out and buy a bunch of pants right away. Now, though, the band isn't always enough to keep my pants up comfortably, and some of my old pants don't fit all that well because I've put weight on all over. On top of that, the combination of going back to work and the continued hot weather here meant that I really wanted to find a dress or skirt or two to keep me cool but nice-looking.

I've been disappointed in the affordable maternity clothes I've come across. I know I shouldn't complain; at least I don't have to walk around wearing tents like in my mom's day. But maternity clothes aren't cheap, and there are far fewer options to choose from compared to regular sizes. For colors, they have black, charcoal, very black, and black stripes. There are hardly any petite-sized pants, and sizing is unpredictable, even within the same brand.

Also, maternity skinny jeans? Right, because nothing goes better with weight gain and constipation like tight pants. 

Anyway, the good news is that because there isn't much to choose from, I've grown tired of browsing, so I've whittled down my wardrobe more than ever. At the same time, I've gotten quite a few compliments about my clothing, so I'm happy. Here's my clothing roundup as I transition into fall:

Coral color-block shirt
Teal color-block shirt
Green t-shirt
Purple t-shirt
Teal t-shirt
Light green paisley shirt (not a maternity shirt, so it might be out soon)
Teal cardigan
Red cardigan
Beige cardigan
Purple cardigan
Black striped dress
Navy and pink dress
Purple dress (again, not maternity, so it might not last much longer)
Denim skirt
Pink and white tank top
Grey and orange striped t-shirt

Silver sandals
Gold Mary-Janes
Black flats
Beige slip-on sneakers
Athletic shoes for walking and occasional Zumba

=23 items

Some of my shoes aren't fitting me comfortably anymore as I deal with swollen feet and ankles, so I'm still trying to figure out how to dress my feet. I have a feeling I'm just going to end up in sandals every day.

Realistically, I'm only wearing about 10 of the non-shoe items very regularly because of the hot weather. I'm practically living in that denim skirt. I'll eventually add scarves back into the rotation, and my cardigans will get more use.  Now that I just have a few months to go, it seems silly to keep adding to the wardrobe, although I always keep an eye out. We have far more important purchases to make, and I feel pretty content even if I repeat outfits constantly. Come January or February (or never), I'll dig out some of my stashed-away, pre-pregnancy clothes to see what's what.

(TMI warning about bras and breasts) 

One last clothing-related point worth mentioning: I've switched to wearing wire-free bras. Earlier this year, my previous bras were looking a little worse for wear, but anticipating a change to my size, I figured I should wait. At this point, while my shape has changed, my size hasn't really changed, so I searched for something supportive but a little stretchy to accommodate small changes in size. It's funny how skeptical I was about wire-free bras after wearing underwire bras for 20+ years. The one linked above fits well and has some padding in the front, which I appreciate because pregnancy nipples are always on alert. I know breastfeeding will bring about a whole other set of conditions, but for now, I'm comfortable, and I don't think I look too loosey-goosey if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

28 Weeks

Pictured: frizzy hair and larger-every-day baby bump. Not pictured: swollen ankles
The fun: Feeling like I have a little buddy with me now and starting to think of him as a separate person, lots of kicking that the husband can now feel too (if you see me in person, you might see me jump randomly as he's kicking much harder these days)

The new: Thicker hair (on my head this time), gaining a lot of weight all at once, a whole bunch of hand-me-down baby stuff (we're starting to feel materially prepared!), not being able to bend at the waist, being out of breath when I'm talking to my classes, grunting when I get in and out of the car, going to see the midwife every two weeks now (which means HOLY CRAP BABY IS COMING SOON)

The weird: Random parenting thoughts (like wondering at what point in my child's development I have to start wearing real clothes around the house), feeling like I basically have a stranger living inside me

The unpleasant: Continued swollen feet and ankles, waking up to go to the bathroom every night (therefore getting less uninterrupted sleep), itchy skin on my belly (from stretching)

According to the interwebs, baby weighs about the same as an eggplant and is 14 inches long!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

24 Weeks

Barefoot and pregnant, part II. The hair looked much better in person.
I've gone back to work for the fall semester, and it turns out being pregnant is a lot easier when you don't have to leave the house regularly. And by the "leave the house" I mean "put on pants and interact with other humans." I was anxious in the early weeks of my pregnancy because I didn't feel pregnant; I certainly feel pregnant now.

Highlights --

The fun: Feeling the baby move a lot (he'll be a futbol player before too long), slowly accumulating baby stuff, people asking me about the baby (I was concerned that I'd hate random people talking to me, but I like it), sharing my pregnancy news with new and former students, eating-eating-eating (in fact, I could go for some food right now), sleeping like a champ 

The new: Settling--I hope--on a diaper situation that'll be fairly convenient and environmentally conscious, looking noticeably pregnant, finding out a woman I work with is very much involved with the local La Leche League (read: less social anxiety about meeting a group of women I don't know)

The weird: Dreams, being honked at by some dudes while I was walking (no limit to street harassment I guess), pregnancy brain 

The unpleasant: swollen feet and ankles, leg cramps, pressure in my lower abdomen making me think I need to pee every five minutes, not being able to get up/bend down/get around easily, missing beer and coffee, being hot and sweaty constantly, arm flab

All that said, I'm still feeling pretty good. I'm far less nervous about the pregnancy but more nervous about the delivery and actually raising a child. That's the hard part, I hear.