April 21st, 2006

Sick-o

Warning: The following post contains some disgusting information as well as descriptions of food. Do not read any further if you are currently pregnant and suffering morning sickness.

I said I would write about the insanity of pregnancy nausea (or “morning sickness” as it is sometimes inaccurately called) and so now, though these days I am feeling loads better, I will attempt to do so. Those who do not experience the intensity of pregnancy nausea firsthand often fail to appreciate the full extent of its insaneness. This includes all men, of course, but also those alien life forms known as women who get pregnant and feel terrific throughout their entire first trimesters. I have met some of you. I know that you exist. And yet still I do not believe you are quite real. How do you do that?

Since I have a bit of a pulpit here, I feel I have a sacred duty, on behalf of green and gagging expectant women everywhere, to educate the inexperienced. I don’t want to frighten anyone, however, so I will share only a small portion of a nauseous experience—about 45 minutes total—one afternoon several weeks ago:

I had errands to run. Since I had not managed to keep down any food or fluids so far that particular day, I was seriously lacking in energy. And yet life does not come to screeching halt simply because one is vomiting, I have discovered. Diapers needed to be purchased or we would pretty soon have bare-bottomed little people running wildly throughout the house. A paycheck needed to be deposited or we would pretty soon have automatic payments coming up short on funds.

So, quite bravely I thought, and against my failing body’s better judgment, I packed my gang of kids into the van and we headed out into the great big world. All along the walkway to car, as I lugged the baby and the diaper bag, my stomach protested this senseless excursion. Just what do you think are doing, it seemed to ask me. Don’t you know how miserable I can make you? Do you think I won’t do it in public? Having successfully ingested absolutely nothing in the previous 12 hours though, I had the upper hand. My sour stomach could make me gag. It could make me spit. It could make me wish I were anywhere but standing in line at the bank. But it could not make me vomit. It had nothing to work with.

By the time I got everyone buckled into their seats and started to back the van out of the driveway, I was in desperate need of encouragement. And, believe it or not, that encouragement came from the thought of… food. That’s right. Food. This crazy nauseated woman found sudden comfort in the realization that her errands would take her past a McDonald’s restaurant and that she would be able to cruise through the drive-thru and order a chocolate milkshake and a large order of fries. Never mind what the morning sickness experts say about avoiding fatty foods. Never mind that I had not ordered a chocolate shake from McDonald’s since I was about 10 years old and wasn’t even sure they sold that kind of thing anymore.

My stomach had made up its mind. We were going to McDonald’s and were going to partake of the world’s most wonderful food—french fries and a chocolate milkshake. The very thought of this delectable meal energized me and I was a new woman. For about three and half minutes.

Somehow, magically (insanely some might say) I wasn’t even halfway to McDonald’s yet when the anticipated taste of french fries began to seem… not so good. In fact, it repulsed me. They would smell simply horrible, I realized. And the thought of greasy fry fingers and the cold chocolate chill of a milkshake were instantly and inexplicably revolting. Before I knew it, I had progressed from needing french fries and a chocolate shake to wondering how on earth the McDonald’s corporation could be so wildly successful when they insisted upon keeping such sickening food items on their menu all these years. The fries and shake were a definite NO GO. To keep my stomach in check, I tried not to think about them.

At our first stop, the drug store, I stopped my empty stomach from heaving just long enough to pick up a couple packages of diapers. I was making my way toward the check out when something remarkable caught my eye. It was in the snack aisle—a package of parmesan flavored Goldfish crackers. Oh, they looked lovely. Simply divine. With just one look, I was in love and I knew that I must have them. Then, as I was adding these to my purchases, something else caught my eye: a carton of chocolate milk. Not a milk shake, mind you, but plain old chocolate milk. I knew in an instant that this would be the perfect accompaniment to the Goldfish crackers.

I bought them and hurried everyone back into the van. As I tore into the package of crackers and ripped the top off the container of milk, I heard a voice call out from somewhere in the back of the van: “Can we have some?”

“No!” I growled. “These are Mommy’s crackers!”

For a moment sitting there in the parking lot, I found heaven. Goldfish crackers and chocolate milk were exactly what my stomach had been longing for, I realized. All that nausea and vomiting were never really my stomach’s fault, after all. It was my fault for denying it the very foods it needed for good health: Goldfish crackers and chocolate milk. I began to wonder why they didn’t sell these marvelous things together in packages. In fact, so divinely perfect were these foods, I could not figure out why I had never heard of a restaurant devoted to the culinary delights of Goldfish crackers and chocolate milk.

I finished my snack-from-heaven and we headed out of the parking lot. I had gotten only part way to the bank, however, when the crackers began to seem like… not so great an idea, after all. And the chocolate milk? Suddenly, I couldn’t even look at the smiling cow on the plastic carton. She was disgusting. So gross. How do those dairy farmers manage to earn a living selling that stuff?

I made it to the bank, left the kids in the van, and ran for a snow bank in the parking lot. There, my stomach relieved us of the crackers and milk. Thank you, stomach.

The rest of our excursion was uneventful, but there is one more thing I must share with you in order that you may truly appreciate the insanity that is a pregnant woman’s stomach: That evening, after the kids had gone to bed and I lay exhausted on the couch, my sweet husband asked if there was anything he could get for me. And as it turned out, there was.

“You know what would be really good?” I heard my crazy self saying. “A package of Goldfish crackers and a McDonald’s milkshake.”

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