(Rheney Williams)

It happened again. I was out with my girlfriends and everyone except me was ordering something full-bodied or fantastically fruity when the server came by.

I’m sitting out on the sipping because I’m 18 weeks pregnant — and let me just say that it feels so good to finally be able to say that that’s the reason I’ll pass on the glass. Because abstaining from alcohol is usually the first public sign that you’re pregnant, especially if you’ve never met a mixed drink you didn’t like.

Like most pregnant women, I spent the first trimester feeling completely hungover and I had to resist the urge to purge every time I was within 50 feet of a watering hole. Those days, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to accept a drink if you’d paid me. But now that I feel like I’m getting back to my old self (in spirit only, because absolutely nothing about me is as it used to be!), those fruity summer drinks have been calling my name.

And so I’m coming up with alternatives to make a couple hours out with friends still seem like a treat. (Another glass of water can only go so far, folks.)

Although giving up glasses of wine is something I’m happy to do for my little one, I can’t help but feel a little left out (okay, a lot left out) when I’m the only one not taking part in the traditional group activity. Sometimes just the ritual of hanging with your girls and drinking something fruity out of a fun glass with a colorful umbrella and a bendy straw can do the trick of making you feel feminine and like a grownup again. Believe me, after 4 months of crying like a toddler at the drop of a hat and having the skin of a stressed out teenager the day before her first date, being reminded that I’m actually a 30-something woman is a welcome change.

And although this is Labor Day weekend — while my personal labor day is still several months away — I thought I’d share my go-to “cocktail” recipe with all those who are abstaining from everything but flavor:
Sparkling Summery Citrus Punch
(Recipe yields 4-8 servings depending on size of glass)

5 Lemons
1 Orange
1 Lime
simple syrup (instructions to follow)
club Soda, 1 liter

Make the simple syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water (for one batch, I use 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water; you can adjust accordingly for more servings) in saucepan over medium heat, stirring continuously, until all sugar has dissolved. Pour into separate container and allow to cool completely before covering with plastic and chilling in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Note: I’ve stored this in the fridge for up to 3 days before so that’s an option if you want to make the simple syrup a couple of days ahead of time.
Next, squeeze all fruit and strain off pulp and seeds. Combine in large pitcher with simple syrup and bottle of club soda. Stir, cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Before pouring, stir again as the juice will settle on the bottom of the pitcher.

If you want to kick it up a notch for your non-abstaining friends (and dream about how delightful this drink can be once your baby makes his or her appearance), this punch pairs perfectly with a shot of Kentucky Bourbon.

In general, I’ve found that pretty much anything fruity mixed with club soda can do the trick of giving you something sparkly and full of bubbles without having to drink actual “bubbly.” I’ve been craving pineapple orange juice lately and knowing I can trick/treat myself with a Pineapple Orange Juice Club Soda Cosmo gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. Yes, when you’re pregnant, you learn to find pleasure in the simple little things!

The same theory goes for mixing fruit juices like grape, cranberry, or pomegranate with a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or ginger ale. (Splurge by adding a scoop of your favorite sorbet or fruit puree.)

If you simply must have your bar-blended frozen drink, you can always order it virgin. Don’t be shy about asking the bartender for his or her personal creations, sans the alcohol. Mixing drinks is their specialty and they have a wealth of knowledge to offer if you just ask.

Rheney Williams is an attorney-turned-writer in Charleston, South Carolina. For updates on Rheney’s latest articles and DIY projects, follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You might also like:

Fritz Hahn on learning to mix mocktails

Pregnancy lesson learned thus far

Parenting (and punishment) with a purpose

Want to keep up with On Parenting? Like us on Facebook.