Eating For One-ish

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.

 

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View From the End of a Pregnancy

Dear Baby,

You’re not due for another two weeks, but the doctor tells me you may be coming sooner than we thought. This news left me breathless and reeling on the exam table, and not just because I’m now acutely aware of how dilated my cervix already is. Months of denial have come to a head — you are coming any day now.

I have to admit I’ve been taking this special time for granted lately. Somehow caught off-guard by how quickly the months have passed, I have spent the last few days in a rushed stupor —  trying to tackle all the laundry, bleaching every non-porous surface in the house, making genuine attempts to keep abreast of all the food splatters and Cheerio dust that accumulate on the kitchen floor in case I go into labor and, God forbid, your visitors are subjected to the general squalor of our day-to-day. In truth, I feel no more prepared than before, though this is at least partly because your siblings create an equal and opposite force of destruction to match every effort I make at cleaning. I mostly feel depleted and anxious, and I’ve let those feelings drown out my gratitude and hope for what’s to come.

So here are my promises to you, our family, and myself at this bittersweet junction in our story. As the clock ticks away the moments until you arrive, I have committed to stop and savor every last drop of this pregnancy.

  1. I will leave the never-ending housework and freezer meals for another day, maybe even another person. Instead, I will sit among the crumbs on the floor and play with your siblings. We will fill these last few days with laughter and imagination and momentarily allow ourselves to forget about having to soon split my attention with a third child. We will wonder what your name is (your brother likes Stinkbug Fire Truck, so good luck getting through high school) and watch you dance in my belly as we race cars and build towers and rub noses.
  2. I will allow my hot tears to drop into their hair as I put them to bed at night, quietly mourning all that will change when you step into our lives. And then I will think about all the times you will make each other squeal in bursts of laughter and delight (likely at the expense of your personal safety or our living room décor). I will imagine the days to come when you will hold each other’s hands on your first day of school, cry when you leave each other for college, stand together on your wedding day. I will picture the mischievous looks on your faces when you first realize you can work together to outnumber me.
  3. I will focus less on the aches and pains, the fear of the impending labor and delivery, and the worry that that crippling sensation might actually be you trying to punch your way out of me. Instead, I will close my eyes and feel you — really FEEL you — living a whole little life inside of me. I will imagine what you look like, wonder what you are dreaming about in there and whether you know it’s my hand meeting yours on the other end of those endless tiny blows. No one else on this Earth has felt you the way I have, and this otherworldly connection only we have will come to an abrupt end before we know it. Though one day soon I’ll no longer be able to feel your kicks, I know the days will come when I will instead feel you wrap your arms around my neck and nuzzle your head into my shoulder, feel you slip your warm hand into mine to know you are safe, feel you twirl my hair in your tiny fingers as you drift off to sleep in my arms.
  4. Finally, I will embrace the last of these beautiful experiences unique to pregnancy , because there aren’t many times in a woman’s life when this is considered impressive and charming:

image

The seasons are changing in our hearts and home as we prepare your arrival, Baby. With the pressure of so much still to do before you get here, it’s been easy to forget how fleeting and extraordinary our pregnancy together has been. It’s been a privilege to carry you, and I can’t wait to look into your eyes and tell you how much I already love you.

Love,

Mom

This Is What Pregnancy No. 3 Looks Like

As the first of my friends to get pregnant three years ago, maternity photos were nowhere on my radar. But now it seems a glance at social media isn’t complete without stumbling upon one of these gestational shoots, a veritable milestone for the modern prego.

If you have somehow evaded this trend and get the chance to search “maternity photo ideas,” and I highly recommend you do, you will find they all seem to come from the same playbook. They are taken in a lavish forest or field, with a flowy dress and sometimes a crown of flowers(!), a doting husband full-on caressing an oft-bare, engorged belly. It’s as if every maternity photographer tells his clients he will turn them into Mother Nature herself if they just hold these cornflowers and flash a little of that popped bellybutton.

Though less common, other themes exist and are just as captivating. My favorites include the glowing mother-to-be shoving food in her mouth, and the pregnant woman who is on a bed and completely nude except for a lacy thong (or less). Because is there really a sexier time in a woman’s life than when she’s swollen and emotionally preparing for the imminent detonation of her birth canal? (READ: I’m just jealous.)

In general, these maternity shoots epitomize exactly what so many of us lose once that precious little bundle is born: glamour, willingness to allow ourselves to be pampered, ability to monopolize the spotlight and bask in everyone’s full attention. Naturally, my first thought was, YES I’LL HAVE SOME OF THAT PLEASE. What’s the big deal if I’m now on my third pregnancy and not my first?

Apparently, there’s a deal. Welcome to my third pregnancy! Continue reading

Did We Just Become Best Friends?

Mid-afternoon exhaustion had gotten the best of me, and although the kids had just woken up from their naps, I found myself lying in a giant, pregnant heap on the playroom floor. They frolicked and played around me, and as she usually does when I’m lying down, Number Three (due in two months) started kicking. They were the kind of kicks wherein you can actually see the limb protruding from my belly and skimming the surface before retreating back to her fetal curl. So I called the kids over to see if anyone wanted to “see” their sister.

Noah ran over and placed his hand ever so gently on my belly. I watched him watch her with genuine wonder in his gaze, but neither shock nor fear ever crossed his face.

“I love you, new baby,” he whispered, and laid his head across my lap with his arm around my waist.

“I’m going to teach the baby a new word,” he added. “Tuuuuuuuuuurd.”

Hand Me the Brownies and No One Gets Hurt: 6 Ways Toddlerhood and Pregnancy Are More Alike Than You Think

This morning in the car, my 3-year-old was whining. What else is new? As he wailed his reasoning (“I JUST WANT WAFFLES AND TACOS ALL THE TIIIIIME!”), it hit me:
 
At nearly seven months pregnant, I’ve never had more in common with this kid than I do right now. Hear me out.

Continue reading