By: Chef Carrie Welt, Campbell Senior Chef
On July 1, 2018, I’m expected to deliver a baby boy. This is my first child and my parents’ first grandchild. It’s not every parent’s dream to have their daughter decide to become a single mother, but my parents have been wonderfully supportive.
In my late 20s, I had started thinking it was about time to have a child, but I was waiting for more career momentum. I finally started the process while I was on a long-term assignment out at Habit in Oakland, Calif. It was not ideal, as I was far from family and friends, but I didn’t feel like I had the time to wait. Indeed, every time I got on the phone with my mom (which is almost daily), I was told to “get on it.”
Most of my close friends in heterosexual relationships are already parents. But I seemed to be drinking the same water as several queer friends who were preparing to give birth while I was trying to get pregnant. One couple was trying too; I was bolstered by their success, and they were extremely supportive, checking in after nearly every appointment and test. My coworkers were also incredibly enthusiastic.
When I finally got the call that the test was positive, people squealed. There was hugging, lots of hugging.
While I was at Habit, I wanted help with gluten-free recipes, and I reached out to Amanda, a chef I knew who had left Campbell. In the six months or so while we had overlapped as colleagues, we had maybe four minutes of conversation.
We had stayed in superficial touch through Facebook, but then we started up a real correspondence, and after a few months, she asked me out. We live across the country from each other, and we didn’t manage to meet in person until after we had found out that the fifth try was the charm, and I was pregnant. I am grateful for her support in preparing for the baby and helping me move myself (and two squirming cats) back to Philly.
Dining out became a different beast.
Servers and I would have long pow-wows over the menu to make sure what I was eating was “safe.” Sommeliers presented lists of water instead of wine. With a gluten-intolerant partner who is also a chef, we were every restaurant chef’s nightmare.
I gained a new appreciation for the convenience and safety of packaged foods. Knowing first-hand what manufacturers go through to keep people safe was a godsend. When hunger hit faster than I could prepare for, premade items such as salsa and soup where my go-tos. As a chef, I do tend to eat nutrient-dense meals, and the only time I really strayed during my pregnancy was when baby and I needed to eat right now.
My desire for carbs such as pasta and whole wheat and white bread was unexpected. I ate a lot of tortillas, and 3 p.m. was magically the time for Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse butter bread peanut butter sandwiches!
Feeding junior is still a vague, far-away idea. I plan to nurse him, but I’m hoping I can get him to like the bottle too. I’ve even planned different colors for the day and night feeding bottles, since evening milk has more tryptophan to help him sleep better.
Amanda is looking forward to making him puréed vegetables, especially carrots. We discuss how old he needs to be before he can help in the kitchen or the garden. I remember gardening with my grandmother and how excited I was to pull potatoes up from the ground. And making chocolate chip cookies on my own for the first time.
I’m going to stick to my guns on basic rules: try everything, and eat what is on your plate.
These may sound austere, but they embody the things I want my kid to understand about food. Sure, it grows on trees, but that still takes a lot of work. Explore! The world is vast and yours for the taking! Use what you have, and be resourceful with it.
Coming back to Campbell’s World Headquarters after 18 months, I find that many of my colleagues have had kids while I was away. I’m at least the third person who has worked on Prego sauce and gotten pregnant – prego on Prego! These new parents are so prepared, supportive, and helpful. And the hand-me-down network at Campbell is astonishing (FYI, I am all set with onesies).
Both my parents will be traveling roughly 1,600 miles to help take care of the baby and me. Dad, who’s also an OB/GYN, will be here for the last month of my pregnancy and first week of welcoming his grandson into the world. My mom takes over from there. Part of my “nesting” process has been preparing the guest room space, since I have a much better idea about how to make my parents feel at home than I do for my new little man!
I can’t wait to meet him, and to introduce him to all the culinary and other wonders our world has to offer him.