Monday, December 28, 2009

A Black Southern New Year's Feast Fit For (someone other than a pregnant) Queen

I almost killed my Lila on the New Year’s Day before she was born.

At least it felt like I did.

Let me explain. See, each and every New Year’s Day, my mother would host a New Year’s Day dinner at her and my dad’s place in Long Island; she’d invite over the folks—my aunties and uncles, cousins and close friends, neighbors and strays—and serve up the quintessentially storied southern black folk meal that was meant to bring good luck and prosperity to our homes: Black-eyed peas and all manner of pig parts, including feet, ears, and tails for good fortune, mustard and collard greens to conjure up dollar bills, and cornbread, because, well, who eats black-eyed peas, pigs feet and collards without cornbread? Top that plate off with some hot sauce and you were starting off the New Year on the good foot, for sure.

At least that’s what I was telling my four-months-pregnant self when I dove into a huge plate of my mom’s New Year’s Day goodness. It was divine. Great food, better company—my childhood home filled with love and light.

And then, the darkness came.

The evening when I got back home, I was so doggone sick I thought for sure every last bit of liquid and innards in my body were going to rush out of each one of my orifices. I was alternately praying to the porcelain god and sitting on it, too—crawling from my bed to the bathroom what seemed like every minute. What was worse was that my little baby, then enough of a bump to warrant maternity pants, wasn’t her usual self. She wasn’t kicking. She wasn’t shifting. She wasn’t poking her little butt out. Nothing.

And I was scared crapless.

It took two ob-gyn visits, several doctor’s phone calls, a five solid days of porcelain god worship, a pinky-swear promise from my mom that, really, nobody else got food poisoning, and normal baby movement for me to get right. Turns out it’s not a good idea, like, ever, to eat black-eyed peas, greens, pig’s feet, cornbread and extra hot sauce when you’re four months pregnant.


I mean, I didn’t really need to be sick for almost a week to know this; I’d already had one healthy baby and took great pride in keeping my head buried in pregnancy books that extolled the virtues of healthy eating. I took my vitamins regularly, I didn’t eat a whole lot of junk food, and I caved to only a few of my cravings (I said yes to popsicles, and freezing cold ice water, and no—as tempting as it was, to starch, clay, and, get this, Tide detergent. I know, weird right? Turns out those cravings were signs of a ridiculously bad iron deficiency.) But none of those pregnancy books specifically suggested I skip my mom’s New Year’s Day dinner.

So let me just go on ahead and put it on out there: If you’re pregnant, it’s probably best to stick to a sound eating plan, like the one laid out HERE on the super-informative March of Dimes website.

The March of Dimes also has a fine set of guidelines for healthy weight gain for moms-to-be so that your body can perform all the wonderful miracles of motherhood—from giving birth to a healthy baby to producing a nutritious mix of breast milk for your baby to getting your body back in tip top shape after the baby is born.

Um, and tempting as it may be to eat it, stay away from the contraband food this Friday if you’re with child. I’m just saying.

This blog post was donated by MyBrownBaby to the March of Dimes as part of its March of Dimes Moms initiative.

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  1. Poor you, that sounds horrible. It sounds like a meal to ring in a prosperous new year though! I will be 16 weeks pregnant on Friday when I have hop'n'john, greens, and maybe cornbread to ring in our new year. I will make a point to skip the hot sauce and everything will be vegetarian.

  2. I'm not pregnant so on with the hopping johns, collard greens and's been a winning combo for years!

    All the best to you and your family,


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