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How Hyperemesis Disrupted My Pregnancy

I wrote this for Loop21, where I am a political contributor.

I’m not what you would call a fan of the whole royal family thing. I don’t care what President Barack Obama said during his Diamond Jubileetoast to the Queen, didn’t wake up before dawn to watch Prince William lose his bachelor status, and didn’t jump for joy when Kate Middleton confirmed that she was indeed pregnant.

I did, however, send up a special prayer when I heard that Kate was in the hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum. It’s a little known condition that is suddenly all over the news, now that it has invaded the royal family.

But I know it well. Early one morning in 2010, my hubby and I found out we were pregnant after just two months of trying. We were hype; we couldn’t call our parents and closest friends quickly enough to tell them the news. But just two weeks later, joy was the last thing on my mind. It was a Sunday night, and I knew something was wrong when it literally took me an hour to change the sheets on our bed. I had to lie down every time I tucked a corner. By the next morning, the toilet and I were having a torrid affair. As I sat on the floor, draped around the bowl, a huge part of me was glad that I had recently cleaned it.

Read more here

Labels, Food

I’m not so big on labels. Whether it’s people or clothing, they don’t matter much to me. And it’s always amusing when folks label me. One of the things that frustrates folks most when trying to put me in a box is the way I eat. I gave up meat and dairy four years ago, but I still eat seafood. It’s neither strict vegan nor vegetarian nor pescatarian. If I had to label it, I’d call it Cheatin’ Vegan. It really boils down to eating lots of produce and beans. I added eggs when I was preggers to help meet my daily protein counts—I kept track for a week and found that the magic 75 grams was elusive on most days. I’m still nursing, so I’m still eating them, though without cheese, the magic is gone. :-)

Why did I move to this hard-to-pin-down diet? I read Skinny Bitch on the suggestion of my then-editor, Mimi Valdes, back when I was at Latina. It was originally published in 2005, so you probably already know this, but it’s not really a diet book. In fact, it’s not about being skinny at all. It’s really about how your body handles processed foods and foods derived from animals, and it pushes a vegan lifestyle, all with plenty of colorful language (hence the bitch in the title). I got three chapters in and yelled to my hubby that I was done eating meat. Cold (tofu) turkey. 

It’s never been difficult for me; I truly don’t miss meat. I think the fact that I have fish once or twice a week helps. Hubby has always been supportive, but he really wanted me to eat meat when I was pregnant. Luckily, after our 18-week ultrasound revealed that Babygirl was growing quite well, he stopped nagging me.

But of course the outside world didn’t. As is always the case when you’re pregnant, everyone has an opinion about how what you’re doing is wrong and dangerous for your baby. And it hasn’t stopped—I literally had someone tell me that I was going to kill my baby if I didn’t feed her meat, because her strict vegetarian friend’s kids were malnourished. Sigh. I just explained to her that meat is not necessary for a healthy diet, but that you have to work with your child’s pediatrician to be sure you’re giving them everything they need, because kids have different dietary needs than their grownup counterparts. 

At this point, Babygirl eats everything I eat, minus the fish. But that changes tomorrow at lunch—she will have her first taste of fish, a bland piece of tilapia I baked for her yesterday. Here’s hoping she loves it!

What have well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) folks told you about the way you choose to feed your child? How did you handle it? 

O, Ye of Little Faith

Old woman + child

When I was about 20 weeks into my pregnancy, I found out a little secret my family had been keeping from me: they didn’t think I was ever going to have kids. A year later, I realize it bothered me more than I recognized at the time. In hindsight, I think it made me wonder if they really know me at all. I’ve always felt I was born to be a mom. I have broken up with more than one man because he didn’t dream of gummy smiles and slobby kisses. Some women can’t imagine being with a man who can’t dance, or it’s tall enough to grab the cereal from the top shelf in the grocery store, but my dealbreaker has always been wanting kids (among other things—that’s another post). So it was a blower that they didn’t think I wanted children.

And then there was the reason why they thought I’d be childless: I was getting old! As the ripe and rotten age of 29 (I had Babygirl a couple months after my 30th birthday), I was, in their minds, late to the game. But I had a plan—undergrad, work, grad school, marriage, couple time, baby—and I was actually right on schedule. But to the outside world, I looked like a workaholic spinster, permanently fused to laptop. I guess compared to many of my family members who started their broods earlier, I was. Hell, at least they waited until I was pregnant to tell me.

As I look 31 in the face, I’m struck by how interesting that notion is in 2012, that if you don’t have kids by a certain age, it’s probably not going to happen, and that should make you feel incomplete. But I feel reassured as I look to my friends who are just beginning their paired-off lives and having tentative conversations about babymaking that don’t center around preventing it at all costs.

I know that a lot of women kinda hate mommies with their smug smiles and nonstop baby photos, and backhanded compliments about how lucky they are to have soooo much time on their hands. I hope that I continue to keep the faith and never make my loved ones feel that they haven’t really lived until they’ve carried life inside them for 40 weeks. I’ve been on the other side of that fence, and I wouldn’t wish it on any woman.

But there’s nothing I can do about sharing the pictures of Babygirl. Sorry, she’s freakin’ adorable. Have you seen her?!

How old were you when you got knocked up? Happily childless and tired of your mommy friends being bitches? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Image courtesy of dok1 

It’s no secret that I was laid off back in November. It’s also no secret that I’m a bit of an optimist, viewing every skinned knee as a chance to get a cheery, smiley-face Band-Aid. So it’s no surprise that I would embrace unemployment as the nudge I needed to stop planning my career and create it.
The surprising thing is, I came to the conclusion that I don’t actually want a career, at least not in the traditional sense. Im not saying I want to sit on my couch in ratty sweats (I dont even own a pair of sweats!) and eat bonbons (refined sugar is a no-no, except for gummy worms, yum), but Im tired of taking the crowded road to the top, doing what Im “supposed” to do. I finally realized that perhaps the thing I had been chasing—a spot atop the masthead of a magazine of my own creation—might actually suck once I caught it… Read more on

Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time, full of new beginnings, and prep fpr poopy diapers, and late-night feedings (okay, so maybe it’s an exhausting time). But its a dangerous proposition for a growing number of women in the United States. The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story about the increasing maternal death rate—two women die every single day of problems related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The maternal mortality rate—that’s the number of women who die within 42 days of delivery—is higher than that of 40 other industrialized nations, despite the fact that we spend more per birth than any other country in the world, and for every woman who dies, another 50 are extremely ill following delivery (think: hemorrhaging and kidney failure).

Experts aren’t exactly sure why these numbers are trending upward, but they suspect it’s at least in part because preexisting conditions (like cardiovascular disease and diabetes precipitated by obesity) aren’t being diagnosed or considered during prenatal treatment. It’s also a gender, race, and economic issue. A study conducted by the CDC, state health departments across the country, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discovered that Black women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women.Read more on

So Why Black + Green Mama?

When Hubby and I decided we were ready to have a little one back in 2010, my writer mind immediately started its acrobatic routine, flipping about as I pondered how I could write about the pregnancy journey, from peeing on the first stick (and the second one, just to be sure) to the final push (they don’t call it the ring o’ fire for nothin’). But my body had other plans, and just weeks in, I got so sick I couldn’t sit up, let alone type. After being diagnosed with hyperemesis and prescribed the anti-nausea meds that I would take until the day I delivered, I was too worn out to write. And once Babygirl graced us with her joyful presence, I was just too tired and busy.

But something happens when you have kids. Your friends and family (and strangers) have no qualms about questioning everything you do with your kid: “Are you vaccinating Babygirl?” “Where did you get that sling?” “Why did you decide to cloth diaper?” So I spend hella time waxing poetic about the virtues of pocket diapers and why I can’t live without my baby carrier. And each time I explain something, the response is, “I hope you’re writing this down for when I have kids!” Hear that enough times, and you start to think you’ll save more time if you just take that advice. I bought a domain name.

So Why Black + Green Mama? ’Cause that’s who I am. I’ve been called a hippie (not always disparagingly) more times than I can count, and while I’m not sure if that’s an accurate descriptor, I do think we have strayed pretty far from the path nature intended us to walk. And being a Black mother who has worked in media for more than a decade gives me a unique perspective on the green movement: While the typical eco blogger might write about the proliferation of Community Supported Agriculture programs, I would write about why CSAs are a viable way to bring a little water to an urban food desert, give you the tools to join one inexpensively and recommend a book that will help turn your fresh produce into yummy baby food.

You won’t find any rhetoric or forced parenting theories here. I just talk about what works for me, and hope you can pick up a couple tips that make your parenting journey easier, healthier, greener and more fun. Always check in with your intuition and your doctor before making decisions for your family. 

Have questions? Shoot me an email, and I’ll try to answer it. If I can’t, I’ll find someone who can.

I’m Kenrya Rankin Naasel, a lifestyle + parenting expert who—after much prodding from her friends—decided to share her hippie-dippie Black chick mama life.