Pregnancies seem to come in waves around me, and right now, I'm watching a tsunami approach. One of the staff members is due in March, another has a daughter who will give birth in February, one of the women in the working moms group I run is due at the end of January, another is due with twins some time in January, and one of the women in my little wing of the building at work announced that she, too, will join the ranks of motherhood in August.
To hear some women talk about it, getting pregnant and making it through the nine months to delivery is a snap. And for some women, it is. My first pregnancy was very uneventful (until the end, when my son teased us with a potential breech birth and I did all sorts of bizarre things to convince him to turn, not the least amusing of which was lying upside down on an inclined ironing board, playing music and shining lights at the far end of my large belly). I could almost have been convinced that every pregnancy was like that. But even then, I knew better. I had a friend give birth to a stillborn child before we conceived our own, and I knew of another few couples who had lost a pregnancy early on. Now, three years after the birth of my son, I, too, have had my own experiences (unfortunately plural) with loss in pregnancy, and more recently, have become just plain frustrated with my uncooperative (and admittedly, aging) body. Watching the tidal wave fills me with simultaneous hope, and fear, and jealousy.
So I do what I always do when I don't know how else to cope. I bake. Tomorrow I will bring some of these to the newly pregnant young woman at work, who looks green in the morning and shuts her door to try to get some work done. I will tell her that ginger and lemon will help her to fight the queasiness, and reassure her that she'll feel like herself again soon. I will also bring some to our next door neighbors, whose (60 year old) daughter is in the hospital with septic meningitis. Because, as any parent knows, the delicate balance of hope and fear, which, I suspect, is part of what makes us human, does not end with birth.
Here's to life, and to the healing powers of things from the oven, made with love.
Carrot-Lemon-Ginger Muffins (adapted from What to Expect When You're Expecting)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
¼ cup rolled oats
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
¾ cup chopped pecans
¾ cup agave nectar or white grape juice concentrate
2 large eggs, lightly beaten or 1/2 cup soy yogurt
¼ cup light olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp minced lemon zest
1 cup grated carrot
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.
- In large bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, oats, ground ginger, and baking soda. Stir in nuts.
- In medium bowl, combine juice concentrate, eggs, oil, vanilla, fresh ginger, and lemon zest. Whisk to blend. Add the juice mixture to the flour mixture, and stir gently just until the batter is smooth and well blended; do not overmix.
- Gently fold in carrots. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin; let cool completely. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days or individually wrapped in plastic wrap (and then in an airtight container or freezer bag) and frozen for a month.