Ok guys, I think it’s time for me to come clean about why it’s been so quiet around here. I mentioned that I haven’t been very interested in food, that I was working on something big… Pretty vague explanations, I know, but the truth is, I’ve been rather afraid to post about it. I worry something might go wrong, and then I’d have to deal with the “public” fallout on top of having to handle my own grief. But on the other hand, it’s such great news that not a day has gone by that I haven’t wanted to shout it from the rooftops. So today, I’m indulging and sharing.
We found out in February. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was still a shock (if that makes any sense), and it took me a while to really believe it. Every time I took a blood test, I breathed a sigh of relief when it confirmed my pregnancy. There was no reason behind this, as I thankfully have no bad medical history, it’s just that it felt so unreal. When we caught our first glimpse of the baby (the Squid, as I’ve been calling him) at 10 weeks, I could hardly wrap my brain around the fact that this little creature was really in there, kicking around. Even now, at four months, I sometimes still wonder if this is really happening.
Which is silly, really, because I’ve been having all the symptoms. Extreme fatigue was the first: I literally slept 10 hours a day whenever I could. Then came the dreaded “morning sickness,” which in my case manifested itself in the form of continuous nausea and food aversions. For someone who loves to cook and eat, you can imagine how unpleasant that was. I quickly relinquished the kitchen to Laurent, as the smell of food cooking, particularly onions and garlic, had become intolerable to me. The first few days, he made me whatever he felt like, but then it became apparent that I was no longer able to eat normally: I picked at my plate, forcing myself to swallow enough to keep myself alive and the really bad nausea at bay (which would strike whenever my stomach was empty), but not enjoying my meal in the least. So Laurent switched strategies and began calling me every day before leaving work, to ask me what I wanted to eat – or rather, what I felt I would be able to tolerate.
Which turned out to be pretty sad stuff. I think it’s fair to say that I’m a decently adventurous eater on a regular day: I’ll try most things at least once, I have no qualms about eating offal or “exotic” meats, and I love experimenting with hot and spicy dishes. But now, I was requesting the blandest food available, preferably carbs: mashed potatoes, white rice, plain pizza… Red meat was too fibrous, fish was too flaky, cooked vegetables were too mushy and raw ones too vegetabley. White meat was ok, especially if it was fried and served with ketchup. Fortunately, I could still keep down dairy products, and practically lived on them for weeks. That and fruit, and cookies. It wasn’t about cravings, it was about figuring out the one thing that didn’t make me wrinkle my nose in disgust at that particular moment.
This explains my continued absence from all your lovely blogs, these past few weeks. As delicious as I know they are, reading about food was simply not how I wanted to spend my time – not when I was in a state where the peak of gastronomy, in my mind, was a can of fruit salad.
And, of course, once my appetite did start to return, there were all the other restrictions to take into account. When I was younger, I used to think the only restrictions for pregnant women were no cigarettes and no alcohol. And indeed, that was pretty much the case for our mothers – and I know for a fact the European ones weren’t all that strict about the no alcohol part. Not so today. I eventually got to a place where I felt like I could have handled eating sushi, with its clean, pure flavours (especially after seeing the wonderful documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi), but raw fish and meat are now a big no-no, along with their smoked counterparts (so no more smoked salmon or proscuitto crudo, unless they’re cooked). And I see no point in eating well-done red meat (I like my steaks blue and my lamb bloody), so that’s basically off the menu, unless it’s ground. Certain fish such as tuna and mackerel are also forbidden, as are deli meats and pâtés, which means I can’t even make myself a normal sandwich. No more soft-boiled or sunny-side-up eggs, either. Oh, and no chocolate mousse, or tiramisu, or homemade ice cream, or anything that contains raw eggs. It adds up, doesn’t it?
Given that I’ve always had a very devil-may-care attitude about general food safety, and that I’m lucky enough not to have any food allergies, it bugs me to have to be “that girl” in restaurants for a few months. The one who asks questions like “Is your grilled cheese made with pasteurized cheddar?”, “Is that cheesecake baked?”, “Do you put the duck jambon on the pizza before or after you put it in the oven?”, and “Can I have the sticky toffee pudding without the ice cream?”. I can’t wait to start showing, so that people will know that I’m not picky or paranoid, I’m just pregnant.
Laurent tells me I’m being overly cautious, that I’m just going to end up miserable and malnourished, which can’t be good for the baby. Maybe so, but just try eating something after you’ve read that there’s a slight chance it might permanently hurt your baby. Those Norwegian eggs Benedict will turn sour in your mouth. You can’t unlearn that information. Which means I probably should’ve stayed away from the Internet in the first place…
But finally, last week, I started really feeling better. First, I had a new spring in my step, an urge to actually do something other than lie on the couch and knit baby clothes. Then, I started cooking again. Simple things, at first. And when I went to bed one night thinking about the elaborate goat curry I wanted to make the next day, I knew I was back to normal. With my appetite back, it’s not so bad working around the restrictions and thinking of meal ideas.
So, there you have it. There are a lot of changes in the future, and I look forward to them all. And I’m happy to be able to post about it here as of now!