photo credit: mattieb via photopin cc

(My last post was hopeful… this one is whiny… you have been warned). Our memory has this wacky trick of helping us to forget how horrible things really were at the time. I have talked to many pregnant women, who speak about their experience during the first trimester and say “it was awful” with a smile. It wasn’t until I was really in the midst of this that I realized how remarkably sucky pregnancy can be. So I am here going to document reality as I know it, so that my later rose-colored glasses self has proof that it really was profoundly unpleasant. Take this, future self, and don’t let yourself gloss it over with “it was nothing compared to the joy that would follow.”

I was sitting on the couch the other night, and realized that I needed to eat something. After going over everything in the house, I decided “Orange, that will be light and sweet, I will enjoy that.” And so I peeled the orange and took a slice–and it tasted like garbage. Literally. I gave a slice to the fella saying “can you taste this for me?.” He said that it tasted like an orange. I tried another slice and once again, that light sweetness was instead an overwhelming taste of garbage. I don’t know if there was some smell somewhere else in the room that was interfering with my taste receptors, but the result was that my orange betrayed me. My source of comfort turned out to be a source of disgust. And the fella had to eat the rest of the orange.

The first trimester of pregnancy has been an experience of food betraying me. I usually really like food. It gives me comfort. I like to have special food on special occasions, and if I’m having a bad day, I picture what kind of food would turn the thing around. Over many years, I’ve found what foods make my body feel good– and always know that after a little chicken breast, steamed vegetables and a sweet potato, I’ll feel like a new woman. Now, like every woman who has the joy to grow up in the United States, I bring some baggage into the relationship. I do have my mental list of “good” and “bad” foods, and sometimes force myself to eat from the good list, even if I don’t want to, and berate myself for the bad. Because just by growing up as a woman in this culture, you’re unable to look at a bag of potato chips as a neutral food item. But for the most part, I had a pretty good relationship with food.

Until I was pregnant. For me right now, every single day is changed by an ongoing battle with food. The nausea that came and went in early weeks, is now firmly ensconced here–throughout every day. If I eat enough of the right food, it will leave me alone for a while. If I take too long in between eating or heaven forbid, try to spend 2-3 hours on something else, it will return with a vengeance and leave me feeling awful and usually light headed, with the looming threat of fainting in public.

For the record, I am profoundly grateful not to be vomiting. And any of you who are out there currently getting sick everyday, you have my hats off, sympathies, and feel free to mock me for having it so easy. But I had no idea how bad constant nausea could make me feel.

We were out for dinner on Friday night, and I bragged to the fella afterwards–did you see how I ate real food? And he looked at me with this look of pity, saying “you were clearly forcing down every bite.” Forcing myself to eat has now become routine. Ugh. Even typing out “chicken breast” up there, made me feel a bit ill. I just feel betrayed, because I have loved food, and now when I could really use comfort, it’s this perpetual source of bleh.

And here’s where you go “culture, you’re screwed up.” Because the only foods that sound any good to me are sweet or made of white flour. Baked goods, crackers, bread, fruit–that’s about it. And I know that these are also the exact same foods that in regular life, would make my blood sugar soar and plummet, and that a diet of them would make me miserable and chubbier. And here I am, pregnant, and worried about gaining too much weight. That’s f’d up. And I look at how I’ve already gained some and the ranges for the first trimester, and I’m worried about how much more I’ll gain as this trimester continues. While in reality, I’m clearly miserable, and anything that gets me through the next 3-4 weeks is worth it.

So here I am, forcing myself to eat yogurt, cheese with my crackers, peanut butter with apples, oatmeal when I can take it, and anything else that has no smell and seems remotely edible. And I’m really looking forward to this trimester being over.