It's been nine years since my body grew another human and I still get tripped up on the weirdness of pregnancy. I think about going through life as a non-pregnant person (commuting to work, taking spin classes, brushing my teeth), while another human casually grows inside me. My pregnancy must be weird for others, too, as evidenced by the strange stuff people said to me. Most of it came from a good place, but some crossed the line. For example, there are just certain things you don’t get to say to me about my pregnancy cravings, for example. And don’t get me started about the comments regarding how high I was carrying. Those "observations" felt particularly intrusive, especially since I had spent decades, prior to experiencing pregnancy, dealing with body image issues.
What folks would say about my pregnancy cravings not only annoyed me, it fascinated me. I guess pregnancy is such a mystery — even to those who have experienced it firsthand — that remarking on an expectant mother’s diet is a way to try to understand the inner workings of the experience itself, and perhaps even how something as seemingly trivial as food can impact said experience. I understand the reasons why the deli counter guy asked me if I was sure I wanted onions on my sandwich (the heartburn factor could be high for us pregnant ladies), but I resented having my gastronomic autonomy called into question when I was just trying to eat. (Especially within earshot of a sizable lunch crowd.)
So bite your tongue the next time you’re tempted to comment on someone’s eating habits, especially if she’s pregnant, and definitely not before she’s eaten. My tolerance for even the most innocent questions about my choice in sandwich fillings (“But isn’t deli meat bad for the baby?”) was non-existent when I was hungry. With that in mind, here are some more things I couldn’t stand people saying about my pregnancy cravings:
“That’s A Lot Of Candy Corn”
What, this whole bag here? Everything is relative, so me dipping into this 12-ounce bag to satisfy my intense sweet craving on my way to the gym is really no big deal when you realize I could have opted for the 24-ounce sack.
“So The Baby Wants Protein, Huh?”
I craved chicken when I was pregnant. Raw veggies made me gag, but I couldn’t get enough drumsticks. Pre-pregnant me would feel satisfied after a generous portion of chicken, but expecting me was just drawn to protein. I listened to my body when I was pregnant, and not to the people who thought they were being cute by remarking on my diet.
“Eating Peanut Butter Will Give Your Kid Food Allergies”
There has been much debate about the consumption of peanut products while pregnant. All I know is that I ate pretty much the same during both my pregnancies — including the occasional spoonful of peanut butter — and I have one kid with a deadly peanut allergy and one with zero food issues. While peanut butter used to be a trigger food for me, I was careful when pregnant of not eating too much of anything (OK, except for that one time with the candy corn).
“Care For Some Ice Cream With That Pickle?”
“Don’t You Miss Wine?”
Just because I enjoyed a few drinks before getting pregnant doesn’t mean I crave alcohol when I’m expecting. While some pregnant women may have been comfortable having the occasional drink, with their doctor’s permission, I was not. I did not miss alcohol at all; there was something happening in my life that trumped any desire for a beer. I did not struggle with alcohol addiction so abstaining from drinking was not a problem for me. I count myself lucky in that way. There was nothing more important to me than doing everything in my power to have a healthy baby. And, for me, that meant no wine for a long time, and I didn’t miss it.
“You Must Be Having A Boy/Girl If You Have Spicy/Sugary Cravings”
I never believed my cravings were gender-coded. I just thought people were trying to get me to divulge information about what I was having, but that wasn’t going to work because my partner and I didn’t find out the sex of either of our children until they had been born. (At which point I craved eggplant parmigiana.)
"Are You Supposed To Be Having Coffee… "
Are you supposed to be measuring my caffeine intake? Probably not. I would not give up my cup-a-day habit while pregnant. My doctor was fine with it, but that doesn’t even matter because I shouldn’t feel obligated to disclose how my obstetrician feels about my diet.
“... Or Diet Soda?”
Sometimes I need a little caffeine in the afternoon because I’m a working mom-to-be and I still have deadlines. Also Diet Dr. Pepper was the best tasting liquid in the world to this pregnant mama.
“Wish I Could Get Away With Eating For Two”
I know it may appear to be glamorous, what with a jacked-up internal furnace and the need to pee every five minutes, but living my best pregnant life is not about indulgence. It’s about listening to my body, and feeding my body what it needs. I would get uncomfortable if I ate too much in one setting when I was in my third trimester, but there were days I felt like I was a bottomless pit that needed to be filled a whole lot of pasta. It’s nothing to be jealous of, though. I wasn’t eating out of pleasure. I was eating out of necessity.