The day my morning sickness began was during a trip to Las Vegas, a trip my husband planned before I became pregnant. Months earlier I’d gotten into a serious workout routine, which was four to five days a week. While my husband attended a conference, I planned to go on a hike at nearby Red Rock Canyon. But all those plans went out the window.
The doctor said to cancel the hike. I looked visibly disappointed. She said, “Did you start getting morning sickness yet?” No, I told her. She indicated once the morning sickness started I’d probably lose interest in any hiking. I shrugged; I was feeling great.
We went to Vegas, stocked up on food and drinks from Trader Joe’s, including avocado, cheese and bread to make sandwiches. It was March, and we were in warm, sunny Nevada. All was well.
That is, until our first full day in Vegas.
With the hike out of the question, I decided to go shopping. But within 30 minutes of wandering the outlets, I started to feel weak, tired and nauseous. I thought I should eat something, so I went back to the hotel and made a cheese and avocado sandwich. I still felt a bit nauseous. I ate another avocado sandwich later with my husband. The nausea persisted.
The hotel breakfast, cuisine on the Strip, airport food, it was all completely unsatisfying and everything tasted “off.”
To make it worse, while our return flight was in descent, we had the worst turbulence I’d ever experienced. I clutched a barf bag, certain I was going to lose everything, but didn’t. Once on the ground, one thing was for certain: I never wanted to see an avocado or anything else that reminded me of my time in Vegas.
The nauseous feeling that arrived in Vegas did not stop until the baby came out.
Together, food and my digestive system tortured me for months. Yes, I’d heard of morning sickness. But unfortunately, my knowledge of this was restricted to movies and TV, so I understood morning sickness to be like this: Woman vomits once unexpectedly, soon after she learns she’s pregnant, woman never gets sick again. And I definitely thought that morning sickness ONLY HAPPENED IN THE MORNING.
However, nothing — nothing, nothing, nothing — prepared me for the way food and my digestive system would conspire to simply torture me 24 hours a day for the duration of my pregnancy. I’d feel sick, so I’d eat to settle my stomach. And then the food in my stomach would make me feel sick.
I’d have a bad taste in my mouth — every waking minute — so I’d suck on a candy or sip a drink to minimize it for a moment. But it was relentless.
If I ate nothing, I’d still have a burning, nauseated feeling.
Ginger tea. Ginger candy. Pregnancy lollipops. Crackers. Water. Seltzer. Bracelets that are supposed to target pressure points in your wrists and magically cure you. Acupuncture. None of it was remotely close to a cure for me. So I’d eat things I enjoyed, even if they weren’t the healthiest, like pizza. At least I could enjoy the taste of foods.
But food was cruel to me. Pizza tasted amazing in my mouth, and for a second it covered up the otherwise consistently wretched taste in my mouth, but as soon as the pizza left my mouth and headed to my stomach I was tortured. And it wasn’t just pizza. It was everything: ice cream, salads, eggs, oranges, chicken and rice. Literally anything I would eat would give me a stomach ache.
And not just one stomach ache. I could have two to four different stomach aches simultaneously. I didn’t even know that was possible.
I could have heartburn, nausea, gas, bloating and constipation pains all at the same time. I would burp all day long. And for the majority of each day I felt on the verge of vomiting at any second. But no, I didn’t vomit. Instead, the food stayed inside me, mercilessly torturing me.
Except the one day when I did throw up. I was getting ready for work, gagged on my post-nasal drip from the head cold I was blessed with for my first trimester, and my stomach flipped inside out. I leaned over the toilet and let out what had been tormenting me for weeks. All that came out was some bile. I sat there crying over the toilet bowl.
My husband overheard and came to me. He sat on the floor with me, held me as I cried, and told me everything would be OK. While food had abandoned and betrayed me, my husband had not. I knew he loved me because he sat there with me, rubbing my back, while my bile floated in the toilet bowl.
Food was ruined for me, I feared, forever. Food is the one thing pregnant women should have. We can’t drink, we can’t have caffeine, and a host of other restrictions. At least let a girl eat.
To the women who are pregnant for the first time, or hoping to be pregnant one day, I’m here to tell you the honest, ugly truth about morning sickness. It ain’t pretty and it ain’t over in five minutes. And sometimes it’s not over in the first three months like all the books say happens for most women. But, I’m also here to tell you that it is still temporary. It may last nine months, but that’s still temporary. I can tell you that within 24 hours of delivery, I was able to freely enjoy food again.
Although it took me months before I could eat an avocado.
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