Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mixed Blessings: Dal

A lot of my fellow bloggers have posted about the complicated feelings about pregnancy, birth, and parenting after loss and infertility.  I've had ample time to think about this recently, and wanted to weigh in on the subject myself.

My pregnancy, while not difficult by any measure, was not exactly a picnic, either.  I was sick and dog-tired for the first trimester, sick in the second trimester, and sick in the third trimester.  I had leg cramps and pelvic cramps, especially towards the end.  N. had her foot wedged well into my ribs.  And of course there was the psychic drama every time I fell down, or felt a weird twinge in my abdomen, or was kicked by my son, or mistakenly ate yogurt that was just past its expiration date.  This last bit was probably the worst part of it; I couldn't shake the thought, up until the very end, that I might not end up with a live baby.  Once you've lost a pregnancy, I suspect at any stage, and know others who have lost pregnancies and babies at later stages, it's hard not to listen to the voices of caution.  You want to be happy, but your happiness is muted by the fear of loss; you try hard not to connect, even as you want to and desperately need to connect.

Those of us lucky enough to give birth to a live baby revel in that blessing.  But honestly, the first few months of a baby's life are not easy for parents, either, and I would like to say that I think it's OK to feel frustrated, and dog-tired, and even a little sad, at the same time that you're feeling blessed that this child arrived safely.  I didn't love the work of the first three months the first time around, and I confess, I'm not loving every minute of the work right now, either.  Breastfeeding, especially, and being the milk machine at the All Day Cafe, involves constant learning and infinite patience.  Your child may latch well, and then decide that she's feeling lazy and would rather slurp at your breast than work hard to empty it.  You get showered and dressed in the morning, but you are reluctant to put in your contact lenses because you would really just rather sleep.  At three a.m., you are ticked off, because you are supposed to wake up and feed the baby, but the baby wants to sleep, and the pediatrician has told you to wake the baby for the first few weeks (silly pediatrician).  You feel exhausted by the endless piles of laundry.  You would really like a little bit of "cute awake baby" time to assure you that yes, your lack of sleep and the constant feeding are worth it.  You are frustrated that your child fights sleep like nobody's business, and you feel like a failure when she winds up screaming in your arms because she is overtired, despite your best efforts to help her to sleep when she starts yawning (you try every comfort measure in the book), every time she needs to rest during the day.  You may even be a little upset that this life event may have changed everything for you, including possibly your career, leaving you without a job at the place where you've worked twelve years to build a future for yourself.

None of this makes you any less happy that you have a baby, or means that you love your child any less.  You are entitled to feel just like any new parent feels, even parents who are parenting a newborn for the second, or third, or even fourth time around.

S. made this before I gave birth and froze it.  I am blogging it today because curry is typically a mixture of spices, just like having a newborn entails a mixture of feelings.  Like having a baby, the mixture doesn't make it any less delicious.


1 carrot, chopped
1 T. minced ginger
2 c. yellow/red lentils
8 c. water
5 green onions
2 T. curry powder
1 c. raisins
1 more T. minced ginger
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 can coconut milk
1 t. salt
1 T. honey
dash cinnamon

Combine carrot, ginger, lentils, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, until tender.

Saut√© green onions in a little oil for about 2 minutes with  curry powder, raisins, and additional minced ginger.

Add tomato paste, then add to the lentil mixture along with coconut milk and salt, or to taste.  Add honey and cinnamon to taste.

Let simmer for another 20 minutes, and you're done!  Serve with naan or basmati rice and Greek yogurt.
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  1. You described the first three months of my daugther's life - constant nursing, refusing to sleep, crying all the time from missing all that sleep. It was NOT EASY. I could not figure out what was up since all these people told me that newborns and little babies just sleep all the time. Not my kid. You're right - no matter the events leading to the birth of a child, all parents deserve to complain and feel frustrated by the well, frustrating, life of parenting a newborn. Hoping things get a bit easier for you soon. Also hoping things work out at the job - if that's what you want, anyway. Thinking of you and sending lots of wishes for lovely, beautiful, long stretches of sleep!

  2. I think you are exactly right, and it can be hard to remember that and be gentle with ourselves. But you know what, you probably don't realize how many times you pull yourself out of one of those new-mom funks because you realize how lucky you are. And those are the moments that count, those are the ones we experience as survivors of loss that many other people do not experience. And you don't have to have those moments either, but you probably will. ;-)

  3. Well said! I remind myself of 2 things constantly.

    1. It could be worse.
    2. My (others) feelings are justified.

    Sometimes it seems like those two don't go together and sometimes they don't but they help me deal with hard times.

    Hope you are well.

  4. As long as your darling is dirtying diapers at the correct rate you can ignore any and all calls to wake the baby for a 3 am feeding. Feh.

  5. Wow, you explained it just right, jut as I'm experiencing it. It is so true, you don't appreciate parenthood any less, but it is very hard! Thank you for writing this, for saying what I feel too.

  6. my mantra for the first months is always "this too shall pass" nothing lasts forever, not even sleepless chldren. & in the meantime, you are entitled to feel any darn way you want!

    (& i say let that baby sleep thru 3am if she's sleeping!!!)

  7. I can certainly relate to the antenatal conflicting emotions. I'm trying to stay oblivious to what mightcome next. I hope things settle down with N soon so you have more of the enjoyment and less of the stress.

  8. Dal, or anything with lentils are among my go-to comfort foods, so I'm going to try your recipe and make a batch to freeze for June!

  9. I also want to share this, which I think is appropriate for anyone struggling with the idea that they should just appreciate what they have:


  10. I think you're right - you're entitled to feel ALL the emotions of a very complex and multi-faceted experience. It's interesting, a lot of women who have gone through loss (or know women who have) seem to face feelings of guilt when faced with the realities of little sleep, being constantly on, feeling down. I can't imagine the adjustment it takes (though I hope I'll be experiencing it before long) but I also really do believe in acknowledging those complex emotions.

  11. Isn't that the 100% truth. Hang in there, routines will develop and things will fall into place.

  12. Visiting from ILCW. Love the veg recipes and I adore how you intertwine food with pregnancy and life cooking inside of you.


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