NOTICE: This post is Wife approved.
For my wife, pregnancy was somewhere between a disappointment and a nightmare. For years she had heard mothers speak of how pregnancy was a magical time for them. Many even missed it. Understandably, she looked forward to an amazing experience. Instead she had nine months of exhaustion and pain. It was like some sort of cruel bait and switch combined with that scene from the motion picture Alien in which the alien bursts out of the astronaut’s chest, except that our baby used a less polite exit.
One of the only parts of pregnancy that she did enjoy was the cravings. In fact, eating in general became so pleasant that she still talks about it fondly. We’ll be out having a special dinner, eating the best food that we can possibly afford, and she’ll pause in the middle to lament, “Food tasted so good when I was pregnant.” I would say that this upsets me, but it doesn’t. I just remember how our baby was less polite than a horror movie alien, and suddenly I can forgive a lot.
She never had any of the truly strange cravings that appear in books and television shows. She didn’t combine ice cream with pickles, or anything like that. She mostly just wanted our regular sort of foods, but in quantities worthy of small countries. I’ve never seen anyone eat like her, and I was a teenage boy once.
When we went grocery shopping, a lot of our groceries never even made it out of the store. At the check-out counter it would look like we were buying empty boxes and crumpled plastic wrappers. She once downed an entire jar of olives in the store, then noticed my horrified expression and explained, “They looked tasty.” I’m not sure she bothered to chew them. I was pretty lucky she had the self-control not to eat the jar.
In very broad terms, over the course of the nine months she craved four things. The first, strongest, and longest lasting craving was for cheese. When it started it was barely noticeable; she would put sliced mozzarella on crackers as a snack. Cheese on crackers is a reasonable snack for anyone. Then it blossomed into having cheese with whatever else we were eating. Since cheese is pretty common in our diet, this wasn’t too strange either. Before long though, she was stomping through the house like a grumpy bear, muttering about how she couldn’t find any more mozzarella. When I asked her what she wanted for dinner, she didn’t even mention other food. She would look at me as though wondering if I were secretly a dairy product, and answer, “Cheese. I want cheese!”
Eventually the craving solidified into the desire for a specific sort of cheese flavored cracker. I think I bought them for her on a whim one day. She tore through the box in single sitting and wasn’t satisfied by anything else after that. We started going through several large boxes a week. She would take them to work every day as a snack. The time she forgot them, she nearly cried. Her office started keeping the crackers on hand after that because no one wanted her to have some sort of break down. When she devoured that supply and was still hungry, she would walk to my office, because I kept a stash there too.
We sometimes joke that we should have written to the cracker company and thanked them. Our daughter was beautiful when she was born, and probably 90% of her body weight had come from cheesy crackers.
Most of the remaining 10%, my wife’s second and most baffling craving, was vinegar. She’ll occasionally try to defend it by pretending it was a craving for salad dressing, but it was what inspired the olive episode. Olives aren’t packaged in salad dressing. They’re packaged in disgusting and stinky spoiled juice.
Nevertheless, nasty juice was what she wanted. She couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It even inspired a brief flirtation with fried pickles. Fortunately for my sanity–I was the who saw her eat these things–she didn’t have a craving for intense digestive distress. To put it another way, her interest in fried pickles passed more quickly and less painfully than the pickles themselves.
I quietly rejoiced when that craving started to subside. By contrast, her third craving was for something I could more easily support: bacon. We’ve always been fans of it, but pregnancy elevated it to a staple. We started having breakfast three times a day. I’ve mentioned our affection for waffles, so no one complained about eating them more often. Of course, all too soon the bulk of the breakfast foods were left behind. My wife needed more time and space to cook ever larger supplies of bacon. Nearby communities became Kosher by accident.
Then, during the last months, came the peculiar craving for fast food shrimp. I think the best way to talk about it is to include my wife’s response to the same shrimp after giving birth: “These aren’t actually good.” In fact, the mere smell of them usually nauseates her. On the rare instances when she says she might want them again, I worry and buy pregnancy tests.
She sometimes thinks back in wonder concerning how much she was able to eat. I’ll catch her looking at the picture we took before we went to the hospital for delivery; whenever I do she asks me if I can believe how big she got. I learned pretty quickly that I shouldn’t answer.
Still, whenever we talk about having more kids, I think that I’ll be happy to spend nine more months trying to keep her full, no matter how impossible the task might be. She’ll sometimes talk about trying to have more restraint, but I tell her that she’s looking at the picture wrong. All her eating helped her grow a wonderful, healthy, little daughter.
Also I found a place that serves cheesy seafood salads. With some bacon bits, I ought to be able to handle anything.