The lonely thing about pregnancy is that you can never tell if what you're feeling is normal. Sure, everyone knows morning sickness comes with the territory, but why don't we hear about how many varieties it comes in? Why does every, single piece of advice involve ginger and Saltines as if we're 4-year-olds with the stomach flu?
The other day I ate: a yogurt and banana smoothie, an almond butter and jelly sandwich, avocado toast, a pear, tortilla chips, vanilla yogurt with M&Ms, and an egg salad sandwich. At 11 p.m. my stomach grumbling, soI got out of bed and ate a banana and two bowls of Rice Krispies while standing over the kitchen table.
It's a pregnancy paradox that makes me seem like a crazy person as I complain about chronic nausea and food aversions while shoveling food into my mouth.
As most pregnancy myth-busters explain, "morning sickness" is a misnomer. It can strike any time of day. It's not even necessarily nausea as most people understand it. For me, rather than the expected vomiting or roiling belly, nothing sounds good to eat and the vaguest thought of most foods elicits a queasiness that starts somewhere around my esophagus.
Forget about meal planning. Most days I can't even figure out what I'm going to eat until 10 minutes before it happens.
Yet, if I don't eat at least every couple of hours, even if I'm not technically hungry, the food aversion grows stronger and plunges me into a rabbit hole. Eating then becomes a desperate scrabble through the kitchen or flipping through my mental Rolodex to find anything that doesn't make me feel sick at that very moment.
It's a mental game that's especially crappy because I love food: eating, cooking, grocery shopping and reading about food were once my favorite pastimes. It's disruptive to any woman's life when one of the most basic activities among family and friends becomes so corrupted.
I might throttle the next well-meaning person who says, "That's so great you get to eat whatever you want now!" Yes, I indulge my cravings, but they tend to backfire. The one day I HAD to order a tangy green papaya salad from down the street destroyed all Thai food for me for the foreseeable future. The same spaghetti and meatballs I scarfed down for two nights in a row became a source of discomfort every time I saw the leftovers in the fridge.
Forget about meal planning. Most days I can't even figure out what I'm going to eat until 10 minutes before it happens. My husband—who has given up trying to comprehend what's happening in my body—occasionally tries to tempt me with what I ate so gleefully just days before: mac and cheese? No. Baked salmon? Oh my god, no. Frozen pizza? Please, stop.
Exercise can be helpful, but only in a contained, indoor gym environment. The whole "get out into fresh air" thing is a recipe for disaster if I encounter the sight or smell of a) fast food b) dog poop or c) overflowing trash cans.
While there is no "normal" in dealing with anything pregnancy related, I solicited advice from other moms. The consensus? Morning sickness sucks. Some may suffer with more medically threatening hyperemesis gravidarum and have to turn to medications like Zofran or Diclegis to make it through their pregnancies. For most women, it's an uncomfortable phase that quietly disappears after the first trimester.
To this day, I cannot smell ginger tea because it only made me sicker.
"For each pregnancy, it was a steady stream of carbs and nonstop food: cereal, cup noodles, lasagna, breads and more breads. It had to be quick because I could not wait for anything to cook. To this day, I cannot smell ginger tea because it only made me sicker." — Lauren S.
"I never threw up, but I was queasy. I drank a ton of water and chewed peppermint gum." — Lori S.
"I threw up daily, sometimes three or four times a day. Seasickness bands helped at one point, and so did IV fluids administered at the hospital." — Shannon R.
"None of the standards (crackers, ginger, Sprite) worked for me. Small meals helped and I still get sick if I don't eat quickly enough in the morning." — Becky A.
"Lemon drops and Sweet Tarts." — Sue T.
"I survived on salt and vinegar chips and fruit. I ate the chips—the kind that are heavy on the vinegar—whenever I felt sick during the first trimester." — Callie S.
For me, it's a case of steadily eating simple staple foods and multivitamins, and reminding myself that—like the chronic farting and heartburn—this too shall pass. Eventually.