Cravings: Before and After Pregnancy

 

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The moment I heard I was pregnant, I zeroed in on the Do’s and Don’t’s list provided by my doctor’s office. I memorized all the foods I wasn’t supposed to eat and bid farewell to sushi, lunchmeat, fancy cheeses and caffeine. Oh and that giant slab of swordfish I typically ate on Tuesdays for lunch. Buh-bye.   I also studied the list of activities that I was supposed to curtail for the following nine months—the rigorous exercise, super-hot showers, heavy lifting. I was ready and willing to do absolutely anything to ensure a healthy environment for my baby.

I’m a good mama!

The first two trimesters were easy. While I missed long runs and hard spinning classes, I had my eyes on the prize who was going to be sleeping in that new bedroom we had just decorated. The food part wasn’t that hard either—my cravings for mac and cheese and Twix bars kept me too busy to miss nigiri and sliced turkey. I also had a near-spiritual experience with a jumbo-sized bag of Frito’s, so I wasn’t complaining.

One week into that third trimester, though, it hit me. A craving for raw fish and an overwhelming desire to stand for hours in the hottest shower possible.  I wanted it like Gwyneth P. wants free-range brussel sprouts cooked on 1,000-count Egyptian sheets.  As the weeks peeled by at a pace slower than the service at a Cheesecake Factory on a Friday night, I could almost taste the salmon roe I’d begged my husband to bring me in the hospital. At 39 weeks, I finalized his marching orders: as soon as we have an Apgar score, fetch me sushi from our favorite place, frozen yogurt from Costco, and a giant bottle of Gatorade 2 (grape).

But the birth was about a zillion times more intense than I’d planned. There was the last-minute C-section and the challenges of breast-feeding that I never expected. While I was overjoyed to have my baby in my arms, the only other thing I was craving was privacy so I could cry alone. A big, fat, ugly cry.

I’ll be a great mama soon as I can get this cry out.

I was too scared to ask for it. What kind of a new mother just wants to be alone to cry?

I could hardly remember that woman who thought her biggest obstacle in the hospital would be having to say no if someone asked for a bite of her yogurt or a piece of her sushi. That woman was gone and in her place was a terrified woman who was so afraid of her incision and her baby’s poor latch to even care what her next meal was.

When, by chance, I finally found myself alone in my hospital room, I started to release the tears like hostages from a hijacked airplane. Then a nurse walked in and told me that she saw “the cry thing” all the time with older mothers.  “You’re so used to being in control– running companies or lawsuits or non-profit corporations that you don’t know what to do when your baby won’t wake up to nurse.”

Wow.  Maybe I am an okay mother.  (Did she just call me old?)

After the wise old (if she can say it, I can too) nurse gave me my meds, I cried some more.  It felt better than gorging myself on dragon rolls during a spin class. I needed to cry for the joy and fear I felt too tired to process, and for the changes to my life that seemed to be suddenly etched on my abdomen. I didn’t need sushi or sweet treats; Gatorade 2 couldn’t begin to scratch the itch deep within me. I’d changed so much that I didn’t know what I needed or craved or desperately wanted, but the cry was a very good start.

 

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12 thoughts on “Cravings: Before and After Pregnancy

  1. Wow. I relate to every single bit of this – from the sushi to the grape gatorade and oh that shameful cry of feeling so overwhelmed. Though I rebuke the nurse’s use of the word old (when she meant uber-successful and accomplished) her sentiment was right on for me as well. Beautifully told – you took me right back.

    • Not sure what made me reach back to that moment, but it’s a good memory even though I was a little weirded out by being called old.

      On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 11:08 AM, Outlaw Mama wrote:

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  2. Can I just “ditto” Carinn’s comment? That was masterfully and honestly told. Personally, I had no idea how much my priorities would change as soon as my son was born. Of course, I expected it, but not to the degree that it happened. I was different before we left the hospital. What a great post for helping moms relate to one another.

    • I was shocked at how fast it happened. One minute I was in labor still scheming for my yogurt, and then the second I had the baby (and the scar, and the breastfeeding, and the exhaustion) I was a different person. Happened so fast.

      On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 11:19 AM, Outlaw Mama wrote:

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  3. I had a very similar experience the morning I left the hospital–my baby had spent the first two nights in the nursery, and I was determined to have him with me the last night. He nursed for about 4 hours straight, and along with the incision pain, my nipples felt like they were on fire and I never wanted him to touch them again. I started to cry, and I just couldn’t stop, no matter how many people came and went or what they said to me, and I felt like the biggest failure of a mother there ever was, after just two days. Then one of the nurses brought the baby a pacifier and me a fresh box of tissues, gave me a big hug, and told me it was the hormones making me cry, and it was all perfectly normal. To this day, she’s one of my biggest heroes, whether it was true or not.

  4. Amen. I know I was a little snarky about the nurse, but it was immensely comforting to me to have my grief/cry contextualized as something besides I’m a bad mother. I wish she was living in my house to contextualize all my cries!

  5. As a fellow “old” new mom, I could relate to every word of this. During pregnancy it’s so easy to fixate on all the dos and don’t because they’re controllable and provide a reassuring sense of structure (at least for me). But once the baby is born, all bets are off. Even if you’ve read every parenting book on the planet, there are so many unexpected realities and reactions. Great post!

  6. Hm, this was not going the way I expected it to! But in a good way. That’s something that puts me off the idea of pregnancy: no sushi. I don’t know if I’m strong enough.

  7. All the books and movies and ads act as though pregnancy ends at birth. Nine months, then you’re done! Oh, boy. Life is never, ever the same.
    Lack of control, nothing. You never get back to your own rhythm, thoughts, body, priorities, or sleep. Ever.

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