I am sitting at the dining table, on a yoga ball at 33 weeks pregnant typing this blog whilst also pondering what is for tea later; this is how my days have trundled along nicely for a long time now with meal times as important punctuation marks in the day.
I love to plan meals and feed people, there is something instinctive and heart-warming about it that gives you an addictive fuzzy feeling when someone is tucking in to your food. I equally love snuggling up on the sofa and eating alone, that naughty meal you can have when no-one is watching and you can put as much cheese on as you want without being judged.
I was the girl at university who would write a weekly shopping list and always be found in the kitchen after a night out cooking up a storm for whoever had returned to our student house after the pubs had kicked out. I have been brought up like this I guess, mum always cooked and I learnt a lot from her, traditional hearty Yorkshire grub with no sight or sound of reduced fat anything. The beef dripping was always in the fryer, left on the side to fill the Yorkshire pudding tray on Sundays and there was never anything but proper butter in a butter dish and full fat milk. Dinner was an event and we sat around the table and talked about our day, something I plan to continue when we welcome our new addition.
So when I saw the cross appear on the stick seven months ago now I had no idea of the rollercoaster ride I was about the undergo with my beloved food. We did the obligatory thing of downloading an app to compare of the size of our bump monkey every week to a piece of fruit and off we went blindly into this pregnancy journey.
The first trimester (or the cheese and pineapple phase as it is now known) is synonymous with morning sickness and women are told to basically expect to feel sick for a minimum of 12 weeks. FYI for a while now I have thought that if men were the child bearers then there would be a lot more cures for these pregnancy ailments but that is probably for another blog. I also realise that before I go any further I must say I was very lucky really as I was never actually sick in this phase although I did feel nauseous for pretty much eight weeks. It was a race to get to the fridge in the mornings and down ginger beer straight from the bottle and eat a ginger nut biscuit before getting in the shower. This after some experimentation I found was the best and most reliable method of a) staving off nausea and b) simply getting something in my tummy.
The rest of the day turned into some strange appetite Russian roulette with my brain trying to second guess what my stomach ‘fancied’ to eat. There were two things which proved to be pretty full proof, these were cheddar cheese (preferably eaten straight from the fridge with the door still open) and fresh pineapple. Now the pineapple is a strange one because not only did I not like it prior to pregnancy, it positively repulsed me. The taste makes my mouth go a funny shape and the texture to me is like meat, safe to say not my favourite. I however found myself one evening riffling through the pineapple section in Waitrose trying to find the smallest one I could, as I was half convinced that when I got home my efforts would be in vain and I would in fact not be able to eat said fruit.
Here my obsession with food programmes came in handy because although I had never actually contemplated eating this fruit I knew exactly how to prepare it and I was quite proud of my efforts, I sat down in front of the television and devoured half the entire thing for my tea. I am however aware that you cannot survive on ginger beer, ginger biscuits, cheese and pineapple for eight weeks so I did try in vain to mix it up a bit. The problem was I would get into my head I craved something and stop at nothing to fulfil it. This culminated in a three supermarket attempt one evening to find a ready meal chilli con carne, as another side effect of the nausea was the inability to eat anything I had prepared myself. I am afraid to say McDonalds was often a victim and Papa Burritos fell foul too.
I got quite an expert at covering up the fact that nearly every smell made me heave, particularly at work where randomly the sight of a certain fellow workers fingernails would make me wretch. There was a guaranteed trigger though which was hard to avoid living with an avid meat eater….raw meat. I tried to prepare meals in the vain hope I would be able to eat them but once the meat had sent me into a spin there was no coming back and I couldn’t put the stuff anywhere near my mouth, back to cheese and pineapple it was. Christmas was interesting when we discovered we had the gizzards delightfully deposited in the carcass of the turkey, they were swiftly removed by the man friend and placed outside the house in the bin in the hope I would at least be able to enjoy the best meal of the year.
Thankfully this phase gradually passed and just as you are getting to the point where you think you cannot cope with not eating properly anymore you find yourself getting back to preparing meals found in magazines and getting excited about food again…phew!
The next trimester I found led me into a bit of a false sense of security as you think you have hit the straight and narrow but find quite quickly that you cannot fit anywhere near as much as normal into your tummy. This was something I had not even considered pre pregnancy and I am the first to admit that when I found out I was pregnant I was very much looking forward to enjoying the guilt free eating and letting myself go a bit with portions, however this was not to be. It does confuse me slightly how some women manage it and there is this old wives tale of ‘eating for two’, I can barely fit enough for one in at one sitting! I suppose everyone is slightly differently shaped and I am envious of the women who get to take advantage of this.
You are told to eat little and often which I have tried to get the hang of but my self restraint, particularly when eating out is limited to say the least and if everyone else is eating three courses you can bet your bottom dollar ill be stuffing three in. This inevitably leads to me feeling uncomfortable for a good few hours afterwards and regretting my greed but the memory fades and I have repeated this mistake far too many times since. At least I was enjoying my food again though, and could choose healthy foods which made me feel better as you do feel a whole lot of guilt in the early days when you are surviving on strange foods. Especially when you are bombarded with information on what you should be eating and the importance of a healthy balanced diet with loads of greens (which I could not put anywhere near my mouth in the early days!).
So I am now into the third trimester and the delightful acid reflux has reared its head as well as the amount of food I am able to stuff in my face in one go reducing further. Although I think I am a little more savvy now and just do not put myself in the uncomfortable position of being so full I feel like a weeble. I also gobble Gaviscon like they are sweets to keep myself comfortable and drink lots of water through the day (which is definitely a good tip). I still enjoy food a lot and depending on how tired I feel dinner has become an event again in our house rather than just something I have to do to fuel myself.
I have learnt a whole lot about myself in this first eight months and feel so lucky to be getting the opportunity to experience all the weirdness that is pregnancy, (an example being an email has just popped up on my phone from NCT entitled ‘Perineal massage all you need to know). I have also learnt that everyone’s experience is different and not to compare yourself to others too much. The next phase when we have our bump monkey sitting at the table is what I am most looking forward to, the idea of family dinners and introducing our new addition to all the wonders of food is something that fills me with joy, bring it on!
A Guest Blog from Lucy Reynard