Pregnancy and Satisfied Eating
When I first found out I was pregnant, I stood in the bathroom, braced myself on the wall, and took a few deep breaths. This was a planned pregnancy, but that didn’t make the moment any less of a surprise somehow. I walked out to tell my husband and my hand was shaking so much that I couldn’t even hold the pregnancy test for him to see. When he went to hug me, he said, “What’s that . . . wait . . . is that your heart pounding??” It was pounding so loud, he could hear it outside my chest even when he wasn’t hugging me. Again, this pregnancy was planned, but it didn’t make the moment any less terrifying.
I immediately began to wonder what was going to happen to me. Sure, in about 36 weeks I’d be a mother, but before that I was going to turn into this vessel of sorts – a vessel that supposedly gets nauseous, moody, turned off to smells, and is ravenous all the time. I was worried – with two jobs plus graduate coursework, I didn’t have time to feel sick or deal with wanting to eat all the time. But here we were, on this road – heart pounding, hands shaking.
For the next few weeks, I woke up every day and my first thought was, “How do I feel?” I waited for the nausea, for the mind-numbing hunger, for the random angry fits – but none came. In fact, my relationship with food felt better than I could ever remember it being. I ate when I was hungry, only until I was full, didn’t have the urge to snack out of nerves, anxiety, or boredom, and I couldn’t get enough dairy, fruits, and vegetables. One day I had a funny little thought: what if, inside me, I was growing a little HAES creature? Was I already learning something from this child I hadn’t even met yet? The idea brought tears to my eyes as I felt like I was being given a second chance at something and the tools to stop this cycle so I can raise a healthy child.
Now, four and a half months pregnant, I still feel wonderful. I don’t have any of the more unpleasant pregnancy symptoms and have not yet gained any weight, but am also not trying to NOT gain weight. I’m eating well; everything is just very balanced so far and my doctor is pleased with my progress. I did have a span of four or five weeks where I was seriously turned off by most meat (especially ground meat) but I ate a delicious nearly vegetarian diet those weeks and still felt great. I’ve always wondered if I could be vegetarian and it felt like the baby gave me this little gift of finding out that it was probably possible (although after that period passed, I had steak quite a few times – still can’t look at ground meat).
I have to think that we really do know intuitively how much to eat. It’s a lifetime of dieting and super-sizing and advertising and social pressures that cause us to learn all these disordered habits. Never before or after my gastric bypass did I ever feel the same kind of content fullness after eating as I do now since I became pregnant. It’s been the most amazing gift of this journey so far. I feel like I’ve been given the privilege to tap into something that some of us lost long ago.