Utterly chic, this expectant mama dishes on preparing for twins, the debilitating nausea of Hyperemesis, IUI pregnancy, and her go-to podcasts. Plus, her overwhelming sense of gratitude amidst the staggering reality of Black maternal mortality and her efforts to support Black Mamas Matter Alliance. @nelliediamond
Current state of mind?
Getting through the day!
Difference between pregnancies?
Overall it’s been an entirely different experience from the start. Henry was a surprise and we did an IUI with this pregnancy. Plus, we’re having twins, which immediately makes me “high risk.” Therefore, I’m seeing my doctor a lot more, and by 20 weeks, I felt like I did at 35 weeks. The one similarity between both is my Hypermethies—a condition that causes extreme nausea and sickness for the entire pregnancy (particularly leading up to 20 weeks), and is hugely debilitating. At times I’ve had to be hooked up to an IV because I can’t drink water or keep anything down. While I had this with Henry through to birth (literally, I was vomiting in labor!), this go-around, with twins, nothing compares to the severity. However, I’ve thankfully passed the intensity of the first 20 weeks and only have “regular” nausea.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure other than to power through. That said, the one thing that doesn’t help is everyone’s advice and I’ve found not talking about it is best. While well-intentioned, most people offer home remedies like “drinking Sprite” or “eating lemons,” all of which I’m sure is wonderful for common nausea, but in my case, nothing works.
Pregnancy during quarantine?
My overwhelming feeling throughout the pandemic has been gratitude. I’m extraordinarily appreciative of all the essential workers and medical professionals. I feel exceptionally fortunate that I didn’t have to choose between putting my family and myself at risk every day or go to work.
Plus, watching the powerful protests that started in June for Black Lives Matter became a crucial part of my pregnancy.
Reading the CDC data and understanding the mortality crisis that Black mothers are facing is staggering. With stats like Black women are over 30 are five times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women, is crazy. How can it be that a girl my exact age, at 31, is five times more likely to die in labor than I am? There is no more explicit evidence of deep-rooted racism embedded in our society and the medical system. It’s petrifying to think about how many of these pregnancy-related deaths have been preventable. For example, Sha-Asia Washington, a 26-year-old Black woman from Brooklyn, died a few weeks ago in NYC during childbirth. It’s all too easy to disregard this as “happening elsewhere.” But no, this is happening here, in the city we live in as a result of systemic racism.
Recognizing we have a real chance to effect lasting change and move forward at this moment is critical. Over the past few months, I’ve considered how I can leverage my privilege of “not being five times more likely to die in childbirth” to make a significant impact in this space. I’ve become involved with several fantastic organizations, including Black Mamas Matter Alliance and the National Birth Equity Collaborative.
I feel 100% safe about giving birth in NYC. I have such reverence for the medical field and medical professionals that are getting us through this crisis, and I trust my OB entirely. During the pandemic’s height, I continued to go into the city for every doctor’s appointment—her office took extensive precautions.
In pre-COVID “normal” life, it’s impossible to make a birth plan, let alone now. I don’t set expectations, other than hoping for healthy babies and I’m very much of the mind that whatever happens, happens. With Henry, I had to leave the hospital before him, and it was a nightmare. Therefore, rather than be disappointed, I’m mentally taking it one day at a time.
Thoughts on breastfeeding?
Henry was in the NICU for the first week of his life and had formula from day one. I had all these preconceived notions that he had to have breastmilk strictly; however, the NICU nurses were like, “NO, you don’t have a choice. He needs formula. Your baby has to stay alive!” That’s when I realized that all the planning and ideas we have don’t matter. Instead, we have to do what’s best for our babies and children at the moment.
In the end, I breastfed Henry until he was three-months-old mixed with supplementing. While I didn’t super enjoy it, I was proud that I lasted that long. With the twins, when it comes to breastfeeding, I’ll take it as it comes. Plus, there are many excellent options for formula now, and a combination of breastmilk with formula can be wonderful.
Will you take maternity leave?
When I got pregnant with Henry at 27, a week after I launched my business Hill House Home, I had zero context. None of my close friends had babies, and the pregnancy was a surprise. As I had just started a business, my maternity leave situation was nonexistent. With only one employee, I jumped back into work as soon as possible. Now, I have an incredible team that I have every confidence in, plus we’ll see what the world looks like in October.
For the first 20 weeks, I couldn’t sit up and had to work lying down not to vomit. Now that I’m feeling a bit better, I try to walk as much as possible to get my coffee or run errands. I love my Fitbit and do about 5K steps a day.
Eating or craving?
Food is so hard for me through pregnancy, and not particularly exciting. I live in this constant balance of not wanting to eat anything but knowing that I have to eat to stop the nausea and provide for my babies.
I remember with Henry, I gained weight and certainly ate, but I didn’t enjoy food for nine months. The hour after I gave birth was the hungriest I’ve ever been in my life. I had hospital scramble eggs and thought they were the best thing I’d ever had. I think I even put ketchup on them, which I have never done!
I’m a big reader, but mostly fiction, and I don’t read much about motherhood. Although, bizarrely, I love to read the Reddit and What To Expect forums. It’s like reality TV!
I listen to The Daily Podcast every morning, plus The Economist Podcast and Justice In America by Josie Duffy Rice.
Preparing for twins?
I haven’t bought anything yet! To be honest, I don’t know how to plan for twins and have no idea how different it will be until they come. At a minimum, I know I need two cribs, and the rest I’m trying to figure out.
You’re going to get a lot of advice, so try to take everything with a grain of salt otherwise it can become overwhelming. Trust your instincts and use your internal filter as much as possible.