My one and only pregnancy started out like many others—with crippling exhaustion, inexplicable cravings for meatballs, the purchase of about ten pregnancy tests (“Is that a line? I can’t tell. Should we call the help number? Get a magnifying glass”), and copious amounts of drool on my pillowcase. Other than those fairly standard symptoms, however, I honestly felt like being pregnant wasn’t too different than being not pregnant.
For the first six weeks.
Around my sixth week, I made the healthful decision to eat a sub from Quizno’s.
I ordered the sub with beaucoup onions, because I like it when my mouth smells like a grody armpit. I began eating the sub with gusto, but about three chews in, I realized that someone had played a terrible joke on me and poured the contents of an ashtray all over the inside of my sandwich.
That’s right. I WAS EATING CIGARETTE BUTTS.
I tore off the top bun in horror, only to find what you might already suspect: there were no cigarette butts anywhere on the sandwich.
I replaced the top bun and began to eat again, only to have my mouth fill once more with the taste of tobacco and ash. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. Was there something wrong with the meat? Had the mayonnaise gone off? Had the Quizno’s guy smoked 3 packs of unfiltered Winstons while making my sandwich? I sure as hell wasn’t going to finish off the rest of it in order to find out. I threw the Rotten Butt-Tastin’ Sub in the garbage and went my “merry” way.
I felt a little queasy that day, but I chalked it up to the fact that my sandwich had tasted like a gas station toilet bowl. It never crossed my mind that this experience might be an indication of what the pregnancy books call a Food Aversion™, and that my beloved onions would taste like cigarette butts for the next eight months. That particular day, all I knew was that Quizno’s was beyond disgusting (it isn’t) and I would never eat there again (also untrue.)
Besides, I felt much better the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after . . .
Wait a minute.
What’s that smell?
Is my husband cooking? Why is he cooking? WHAT is he cooking?
It smells like fried butthole.
That . . . erp. That is . . . nauseating. I must get to the bottom of this.
“HUSBAND! WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU COOKING?! IT SMELLS LIKE HOT PEPPERONI AND FRIED BUTTHOLE. NO ONE IS GOING TO WANT TO EAT THA—“
“NO ONE IS GOING TO WA—“
“NO ONE IS G—”
With that, the morning sickness had begun.
And it didn’t end. At least, not when it was supposed to. Believe me, I tried waiting it out. But it just kept coming. My daily existence consisted solely of sleeping, barfing, and peeing my pants while barfing. My doctor suggested an anti-emetic, but because I am old enough to have learned in high school about Thalidomide and its ensuing wave of flipper babies, I decided to tough my way through it until I was about 16 weeks along.
At that point, I was losing weight and severely dehydrated, so my OB/GYN forced the issue and wrote me a prescription for the anti-emetic called Zofran. I was hesitant (flipper babies), but after I started taking the blessed Zofran, I could actually keep some food down, and went from throwing up multiple times a day to multiple times a week.
But the morning sickness NEVER fully went away. Even on the delivery table, with copious amounts of Zofran running through my IV drip, I still managed to puke twice. (The upside, however, was that I didn’t poop. With nothing in my stomach, my bum stayed as clean as two Georgia peaches. Relatively speaking.)
Not until my son was pulled from my vagina red-faced and covered with vernix, did my morning sickness finally leave me. And I know this is hard to believe, but I swear I actually *felt* it happen. That moment was possibly the best experience of my entire life—well, second to the whole “bringing a human life into the world” thing—and I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was resplendent. After nine months of Blerg Stomach I finally felt normal again.
So I ate EVERYTHING.
Hospital food never tasted so good. I inhaled every shit they put in front of my ravenous face. The gross grilled chicken. The gross mashed potatoes. The gross limp vegetables. The gross pudding. I didn’t even ask for my family to bring in food from the outside world, I just ate whatever the hospital served me. Didn’t care. Didn’t mind. I just ate and ate and ate. I was delighted. I was overjoyed.
I was unwittingly establishing a pattern that would last for years.
I still eat to make myself feel better. I revel in it. Don’t get me wrong—I’d had my binge-y moments before my son was born. But after the fact? Eating became my regular, day-to-day comfort. And as with the hospital food, what I was eating didn’t even need to be particularly tasty. It just made me happy to be chewing and swallowing, swallowing and chewing, until my belly was full.
Now, that pattern is taking its toll. I am overweight, out of shape, and other health problems are also cropping up as a result. As much as I hate to leave behind what made me so happy for so many years, my self-medicating in this way needs to stop. I can’t do it all at once. I can’t do it overnight. But I need to do it.
Right after this cookie.
An earlier version of this piece was published in 2014 on BLUNTmoms.
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“Portrait of a Woman in Red” — Author: Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561–1636); Title: Portrait of a Woman in Red; Date 1620; Source/Photographer Tate.org.uk — Modified
“Hospital Food” — Date 6 April 2005, 18:06; Hospital food; Author Siobhan from Upstate New York; Licensing: Creative Commons; Attribution share alike; This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
“Zofran” — Drug Name: Zofran 8 MG Oral Tablet; Drug Label Author: GlaxoSmithKline LLC; Date 2010/2011; Source NLM, http://pillbox.nlm.nih.gov/assets/large/000817lg.jpg; Author NLM; Public domain: This image is a work of the National Institutes of Health, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
“Cigarette butts” — “Filled with butts”; Author: Stefan-Xp – Own work; A “well” filled Ashtray; Permission details: GNU-FDL
“Quizno’s” — Description English: The first Quizno’s Subs restaurant, located in Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado; Date 4-17-09; Source Own work; Author Xnatedawgx