A few weeks ago, long after the kids were in bed, my husband found me basking in the glowing light of the refrigerator. The door slowly closed, exposing me and my late-night snack in full glory: a milkshake in one hand and some homemade guacamole in the other.
His eyes widened, a sudden surge of panic rising in his throat. He choked it down and with a solemn whisper asked: “Are you…?”
“Am I WHAT?” I asked impatiently, as I shoved some tortilla chips in my face and walked past him. Adorable, I know.
“You’re not… no. No, you can’t be.” He managed a hard swallow and grasped the countertop for support. “Pregnant again?”
My jaw fell right into the chocolate ice cream rimming the frosted glass. “PREGNANT? Who said I was PREGNANT? Have you been drinking?”
As his expression softened with relief, I saw him stifle a laugh. His eyes drew down to my hands, which were now dipping tortilla chips straight into the milkshake.
“You have got to be joking right now,” I said to him, ready to launch into a rant about how a woman can eat 3 avocados worth of guacamole if she damn well wants to. He snorted behind his grin, raised his hands in surrender, and retreated to the living room.
My husband is not a judgy man, and if anything, laments about how my pregnancies have affected his own weight. Our mutual foodiness is something that has brought us closer in many ways over the years, so his observation struck a momentary chord.
It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but I am ready to talk about it.
My name is Catherine. My baby has been on the outside for five months, and I still eat like I’m pregnant.
In my earlier years, I was never a big eater, and certainly not a passionate one. Some may have even called me picky, uninterested in all things gourmet. But similar to the phenomenon that occurs after a few bottles of wine, being pregnant makes food so much better to me. It tastes better, smells better, feels better, and a considerable amount of my gestational period is spent inventing new recipes or trying new food combinations to quell my cravings. I love it. LOVE IT.
Is there anything more comforting than being surrounded by the smoky, piggy goodness that is chipotle pulled pork roasting in your oven all day? Have you felt the full-body satisfaction that comes with painting a pie shell with molten chocolate before filling it with strawberries and cream? Do you know what it feels like to bite into a spicy chicken sandwich and achieve nirvana?
These things come naturally for a pregnant lady, and everyone understands it. They welcome it, even. But the minute that baby pops out, suddenly it’s weird for me to be considering a kielbasa taco? (Okay, that one was weird. You win, judgers.)
I began to question myself. Am I eating my feelings? Am I so busy feeding the kids that I forget to eat and then shove as many calories into my pie-hole as I can to make up for it later? Do I have any leftover pee sticks to be sure?
The next day, I attended a CPR-certification class with a few friends. And as I hovered over the snack table with them, one of whom is actually pregnant, I timidly recounted how embarrassing it was that my husband thought I, too, might be eating for two again based on my snack intake the night before.
They stepped back and looked at me. “But… you’re nursing. Right?”
RIGHT! How could I forget about nature’s grace period? I learned three things that day:
1. There are few things more important in life than some lady friends to remind you exactly how normal you are, even as you’re trying to smuggle caprese salad in your napkin for the ride home after a class about choking hazards.
2. An extra 500 calories a day to support a breastfeeding baby can look like anything I want, damnit. In fact, I think the recommended guidelines specify, “500 calories, plus or minus a cobbler.”
3. They say breast is best* for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to its ability to shamelessly extend a mother’s pregnant eating habits.
*Unless we’re grilling, in which case I really prefer thighs. Charred with some brown sugar and spices. Remind me to pick up some more avocados. And tortillas. And ice cream.