Bigger than an acorn. Smaller than a kiwi. At 10 weeks, a fetus is about an inch long, but makes itself known in larger-than-life ways. When I was pregnant with Sylvia, I spent a week on a college campus, and I have never known such love for a cafeteria. The food wasn't especially good, but there was always so much of it, so many different little bits of food, and they were already made. When I'm not feeling well, I cannot even fathom food preparation. If I'm hungry, I need the food now. I've tried to train Aron in the art of anticipating many different potential cravings and aversions, but so far, he's disappointingly not a team of prep cooks, we don't have a salad bar, and I've yet to see the kind of constant diversity in selection--mashed potatoes? Beet salad? Yogurt? Chickpea soup? Bagels with cream cheese?--presented before me every two hours. Such a bummer.
(Side note in the annals of nausea: The other night, Aron had a beer after dinner. I was sitting next to him on the couch, and said, "I actually just had the thought, 'God, how can he stomach that? He must be really tough.'")
People have asked if I'm especially sensitive to food smells, and while I was last time, I'm not now. My cravings are pretty specific and wild, too--Indian food seems really alluring, as does vegetable lasagna. And I definitely have carb-attack moments (this morning at a cafe, I had a blueberry muffin and then, for "second breakfast," a cinnamon roll). But what I'm really sensitive to, it turns out, is food vocabulary. Like last night, when Aron pointed to the hummus-parsley combination he had just whipped up for me, which I was shoveling into my mouth with hunks of bread, and he had the nerve to point out that it looked like creamed spinach.
I put down my bread, suddenly unable to eat. "Don't ever say that 'c' word again," I said.
Or at the same cafe at 10:30 this morning, when he gestured to a group of people that had just ordered grilled cheese sandwiches. "That's weird," he said, "they're eating lunch already."
Something about the word "lunch" combined with the hour and the thought of a greasy grilled-cheese? I mean, honestly. Who could stand it? I put down my cinnamon roll. "Never say the word 'lunch' again," I said. And then, feeling guilty for taking my bad stomach out on him, I added, "You know, if you can help it."
So when I went shopping just before the L-word today--in my woozy, half-starving, half-disgusted-by-food state--it was pretty interesting to see what ended up in the cart. Organic baked beans? Two cans, please! Three different Indian meals in packets, all you need to do slide the gloop out like so much toothpaste, nuke it, and you're practically in Rajasthan? Yes, ma'am! Two kinds of frozen eggplant parmesan? Why, you never know if you're in the mood for grilled or fried, right?
But as I neared the end of my expedition, and I was feeling less and less well, I circled back to the produce aisle. I knew what I needed for the 15-minute car ride home, before the true feast could begin. A foot-long, hydroponic, waxy, plastic-covered... cucumber.
I tore open the plastic as soon as I was in the car, only half-checking to see if anyone was bearing witness. I had eaten half of it by the time I got home. The rest of my lunch (I guess I'm feeling better, since I can type the word) pictured above.
The end of the tunnel, the light
All this said, I have been feeling better for longer stretches. I'm still felled by at least one bout of seasickness a day, and I find great solace on the couch, in the bed, in the car, even, tipping the driver's seat back. But the amount of time between my bad times seems to be getting longer and longer.
I've always been a thin person. Don't get me wrong--I eat, I've always been a "good eater." But it wasn't until my pregnancy with Sylvia that I learned how to truly pack it in. My nausea was so bad that I actually lost weight in my first trimester, and the midwives were always bothering me in the opposite way that most pregnant women get harassed--they wanted me to eat a gallon of ice cream after dinner. I'm a good girl, and do what I'm told. By the end of my third trimester I had gained a healthy 35 pounds in total.
This time... I'm sure I haven't lost any weight. I think "growing an appetite" in my pregnancy and then life with Syl has been part of a bigger life lesson in taking on greater quantities. Of food, of noise, of hassle, of laughter. Of life!
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.
Next week: Emily has her first prenatal visit, and renews her maternity vows to the midwife practice she loves.