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ABOUT THE PHOTO
Cleveland National Park
Cleveland National Park is only an hour drive from San Diego. San Diego has a desert climate and while we do have a lot of trees here, they are mostly pine or eucalyptus. We do have a tree called the Torrey Pine but you just don't see rows and rows of non-tropical-looking trees in this climate. Yes, Cleveland National Park looks like it could be in the NorthEast with its beautiful and thick trees. On September 5th, Jake and I drove to the park to spend his birthday hiking a route known as one of the top best mountain biking spots in California. As you can see, it was a perfect day with a magnificent sky.
Warning: Gross content ahead. One of the few symptoms of pregnancy that is well advertised is morning sickness. Most people, thanks to TV or movies, know that when someone gets pregnant, at some point or another, they throw up. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I was prepared for the inevitable. My minimal online reading claimed that 25% of women don't get morning sickness. I figured I'd like to be one of those wonderful people. How was I going to accomplish this phenomenal feast?
Simple. I just refused to throw up.
I was determined to keep food down, no matter what it took. I figured if the vomiting doesn't start, it won't happen. About six weeks into my pregnancy, Jake and I flew to Istanbul, actually to Fethiye which is in the south of Turkey. I had yet to feel nauseous or throw up. My plan was working. The resort that we went to was famous for its food. Each meal consisted of a room three times the size of my old Manhattan apartment, filled with a buffet of appetizers, main dishes, and dessert. I remembered the food from the previous year and relished in knowing that while I wasn't allowed to indulge in Diet Coke this year, I didn't need to spend as much time worrying about losing weight.
Two days into the vacation, I threw up for the first time. We all decided that it was too soon for morning sickness so this must be food poisoning. It made no sense. It was definitely not morning sickness. Four days and four more sessions of vomiting later, we had to admit that ready-or-not, my very first pregnancy symptom was here. I spent my meals eating rice and bread, hoping I couldn't throw up something as blend as that. Let's just say I was wrong. I might have decided to refuse to throw up but my body thought otherwise. Guess which one of us won?
I've always had problems with public bathrooms. Unless my bladder is about the explode, I will not do number one in a public restroom. Number two, you ask? Under no circumstance whatsoever. Ever. For a woman with a bladder as small as mine, this is a major achievement. Our cross-country trip cured most of that sickness. Now, I can use a public restroom to pee just about anywhere, though I've still never been in and refuse to use a Port-a-Potty. Even though I can use them when inevitable, I still hate visiting a public restroom just about anywhere. It's not because I am a neat-freak, it's just because I am a freak.
Our trip back collided with a NATO conference, meaning we had to wait at the airport in Fethiye for a flight that was 3-hours delayed and spend the night at the airport hotel in Istanbul just to catch our flight back to New York. The morning of the flight, I ate one plain bread product when my stomach decided it didn't like it and had me test out the lavatories at the airport. Now, most public restrooms are quite disgusting to me, but few can outdo a gas station or an airport where millions of people pass through during the day. And while peeing in a public bathroom is still an issue I'm working on, puking in one is something I will never, ever get used to. By the time we made it back to San Diego, my face had been inches from the toilets in the airports of Istanbul, New York, and Los Angeles. Not to mention an on-flight bonus on the way from New York to Los Angeles. One would think that by the time I made it to LA, I was getting calmer about having to come face to face with an airport stall, but facing the bowl only made my stomach churn harder and the vomiting session longer.
I might have been wrong about my body listening to my refusal to start throwing up but I was definitely right about "It won't stop if it starts." The night after we came back, I made the mistake of eating a small bag of Fritos. It's been five months and I still remember crying on the bathroom floor, trying to get those chips out of my system. I don't believe I'll ever eat Fritos again. And then there was the In'n'Out Burger incident where an untouched half-slice tomato came out of my nose. That's another meal I haven't approached since. Every fast food item I've swallowed in next four months found its way to the toilet bowl.
Lest you think the vomiting was due to my bad diet, the fast food instances could be counted on one hand in those months. I started each day with yogurt, berries and a banana. Lunch consisted of something blend like rice or bread and cheese and more fruits. Dinner, too, was blend like potatoes and chicken and even more fruits. My body didn't seem to care what I ate or if I ate. Each time I took my prenatal pill, it was a sure sign I would throw up. I remember an instance of Israeli cous cous which came out four seconds after it was in my mouth. I ate the meal, got up, and threw it all up. (By the way, throwing up something consisting of tiny dots is easy on your throat but really painful for your nose.) Just when I thought I could fool my body by eating yogurt and banana, which I had never thrown up, it would laugh at me by making sure I puked it out the next morning. Nothing seemed safe.
People recommended crackers. They didn't work and they were painful to throw up. Lemon drops. They seemed to make me throw up instead of preventing it. Ice pops. I couldn't even eat them, let alone puke them. It got to a point where each food item was scrutinized to ensure for its "How will this feel on its way up?" factor. Bread and crackers hurt my throat a lot. Fruits were good since they tasted pretty similar on the way up as they did on their way down. There were days I threw up every meal and days where I held down all but one. I had no control of it whatsoever. We allocated our bedroom toilet to be the "puking toilet." Its sole purpose was for me to exercise my "morning" sickness. Between the lack of sleep, lack of food, and the exhaustion caused by vomiting, I felt more like roadkill than human.
I was told it would be over by the end of first trimester. Third trimester came and went with no signs of ease. It took until around sixteen weeks for my sickness to fade out. Even today, if I brush my teeth a tiny bit more vigorously than usual, my gag reflex kicks in and I am guaranteed a trip to the designated toilet.
People tell me that once the baby comes, I will forget how much fun those first months were, but it honestly seems impossible to me. I doubt the images of crying, heaving, and facing the toilet bowl will leave my brain anytime soon.