I promised my sister I would renew my blogging efforts over vacation, and even though I was mistaken about the availability of a wireless connection, true to my word I am writing this from Guadeloupe! This vacation was my dream, my “I-want-a-fantasy-vacation-before-this-baby-comes” wish, which John gracefully granted. And, for the most part it is everything I hoped it would be. Even more beautiful than I dreamed. Fascinating and exciting to be in a tropical paradise where making small talk, ordering food, and even checking in to the suites is an adventure in language. It is Thursday, early evening, about 75° F with a slight breeze, and I am sitting at the table in our outdoor kitchenette. All should be well. Yet it is definitely not.
The kitchenette is adorable. The kitchenette, and the availability of barbeque grills, is what made me choose this particular place. The kitchenette, with its nearly empty fridge and cabinets, is also a manifestation of my distress, and the cause of increasingly frequent tantrums and episodes of sulking. Where is the food?!
Beginning about three weeks ago I have been subject to a nearly constant state of gnawing hunger. Yes, I have been waking up hungry in the middle of the night since very early in this pregnancy. But now—I am an insatiable beast! I would like nothing better than to have a little snack in front of me all day long. And one beside my bed at night as well. At home, no sooner will I finish eating one meal, than I must begin preparing the next.
Sometimes I feel a strong desire for one food in particular—and the disappointment should it be unavailable is nearly intolerable! More often, I have a sort of generalized hunger. I just want to eat something. Anything. And I can barely focus on anything else until I am masticating once more.
Luckily, I have always been a rather healthy eater as an individual. (By that I mean I usually made healthy choices, even if regularity was not a strong suit.) Now that I eat for two, I am even more conscientious. Only the best for my baby! Besides a hefty 2.5lb jump in one week at the beginning of this trimester (which my midwife says is entirely normal and common,) my constant nibbling has not led to rapid weight gains. I remain only slightly behind the curve on track to gain about 20 to 25 lbs. My gains have been slow and steady since the first weeks of the second trimester.
But that is in my own kitchen. Being away on vacation is something else entirely. Which is why I insisted on the kitchenette.
It took us 13 hours from the time we arrived at Philadelphia International until we arrived in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe. Yes, an entire day of crappy airport food. Yet, throughout I consoled myself with the thought that this was just one day. Tomorrow, I thought, I will feast on tropical fruits. I will make bean salad to snack on during the days. We will grill fresh fish and plantains in the evenings. Ah, it will be glorious!
We had planned on renting a car at the airport. (And I had carefully rehearsed what to say in French to make this happen.) But, our flight from San Juan to Pointe-a-Pitre was delayed. And delayed again. And since it was a late flight to begin with, we arrived at an airport that was all but completely closed for the night. We had been warned that taxis would be an expensive way to travel; indeed, our trip to our residences cost more than 80 euros. We could have rented a car for two days for less than that!
Yesterday morning we spoke with a very nice man in the reception office about renting a car. He told us that it would be possible through a connection the hotel has with a rental agency, but nothing was available until tomorrow. “Could we possibly walk to the market today?” we asked. Alas, the market was to far to walk and the hotel restaurant was closed on Wednesdays, but there was gas station/general store just 30 or 40 meters down the road where we could buy some small things.
So, J and I walked to the gas station. They did have some useful items: juice, eggs, cheese, potatoes, onions, and garlic. We also bought a loaf of bread, a tub of butter, ketchup and hotdogs. There were some rather sad looking kiwi and not-quite-ripe Clementines; I bought two kiwis and the only orange Clementine I could find.
Upon our return we feasted on home fries with onion and garlic, hotdogs, and buttered bread. It was a good lunch. Partly because I knew I needed only get through this day, and tomorrow’s breakfast. Then it would be off to the market and all the delights attendant!
For dinner, (and woman was I hungry again by the time that rolled around!) we walked about a mile to a tiny little home-cooking Creole joint. We were offered poisson où crevettes. We recognized fish of course, but what was “crevettes”? The man brought out a small toy lobster, or so I thought. J and I both took the second option. Crevettes, as it turns out, are prawns. I was only slightly disappointed, because they were cooked in some kind of fabulous jerk-like sauce which I sucked off every shell, in part because it was so delicious, and in part because it had been so long since my last meal; and because I knew there would no snacking, only long hungry hours, until breakfast.
It was a large plate. The prawns were served with white rice and tiny bits of unidentifiable vegetables baked in a thick cheese sauce. I ate every morsel. Well, almost. J (who claimed not to be hungry before we left for the restaurant) suddenly rediscovered his own appetite and gobbled his portion down in record time. He stole a bite of cheesy vegetables (or rather baked cheese with vegetable bits) from my plate. I scolded him, then felt bad and very reluctantly gave him a few more bites of mine.
I was very full after dinner. However, that feeling did not last long. By the time we got back to the suite I was wishing we had something to snack on. Most especially something green, red, orange, or yellow. It was beginning to feel like I hadn’t had any vegetables in days. Mostly because I hadn’t. And it was really starting to turn into a serious craving.
I woke in the night from a bad dream with slight hunger pains. I am prone to night worries, and last night I worried about the effect my new beige and brown diet with its (what felt like) interminable fasts was having on my baby. I worried for about an hour and then decided to read the next chapter in my book “Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth.” Naturally, it was about nutrition. As Chopra extolled the virtues of a balanced diet, eating from all six tastes and all seven colors of the rainbow, I grew ever more hungry, agitated, and ashamed. I put down the book and tried to listen to an episode of “This American Life” I had on my laptop. I fell asleep about an hour later, just as the sun was coming up.
When I woke again a couple hours later I felt miserable. I was hungry. Very hungry. And stiff from sleeping poorly. And irritable. I meditated until the hunger dissipated and I felt calm. Then I practiced yoga until I heard J begin to stir. By now I had been up about an hour, and had been thinking about food again for the last 20 or 30 minutes.
I began to cut up the last of our potato and onion but started to get faint and feel that nausea that comes from waiting too long between meals. J cooked the potatoes and scrambled our eggs with cheese. I was grateful that he took over, but my mood had already begun to spin out of control. He made the eggs in two batches so that they would better fit the pan. Big mistake. He served up mine first, but when I saw the heap that went on his plate I lost it. “You got way more eggs than I! Why do you think your nutritional needs are greater than mine? Can’t you see I’m starving?”
J has been very good about dealing with my irrationalities and sensitivities these last few months. He quickly offered me some of his eggs, but it was too late. No, I didn’t want his eggs. Clearly he was not sensitive to my needs. And what about last night when he ate some of my dinner? He doesn’t understand what I am going through, and he doesn’t understand it because he is not trying hard enough to understand.
I pouted all the way through breakfast and clean up.
Once the food hit my brain I was repentant. Somewhat. We made up, dressed, and went down to the reception office, French grocery list in hand, to inquire about our car. Bad news, the car hadn’t been returned yet. No worries, it was due back today, so check back in a few hours.
Unworried, we went to the beach.
Four hours later, hot, tired, and need I say it, hungry, we returned to the reception office. “Sorry, we couldn’t get you the cheapest model, but the next one up. Do you still want it today?” Umm, yeah, we still want it today. The hotel owner said he would call and inquire about drop off and then come to our rooms to notify us as to whether it would be brought over now or tomorrow.
Now, I was worried. We had eaten all our food except some cheese, the now slightly stale bread, and the hotdogs. I was weak and dizzy and slightly nauseated again. I drank my last juice but still felt so ill J had to prepare my cheese and bread plate, and I had to eat it mostly reclined in bed. After about an hour I dragged myself back to the reception office for the bad news: “So sorry, the car can not be brought over until tomorrow.”
I dragged myself back to our rooms trying my best to be strong and not cry so as not to upset the baby. When I related what happened to J I couldn’t hold my tears back any longer. He kindly offered me more buttered bread and cheese. That only made me cry harder out of sheer self-pity. I have never really cared much for bread, or really been a big eater of cheese for that matter. And I felt like I had eaten nothing but bread for days. And the cheese was not even cheddar!
We will be going out to dinner again tonight. The restaurant here at the residences is open and I recognized a carrot and coconut soup on the menu. I have never been so eager for a carrot in all my days! But my anxiety continues. Even with a good meal tonight, there is only so much that I can comfortably eat at one sitting (without awakening that old demon heartburn). And I know I may be hungry again before I get to sleep, and most certainly will be hungry when I wake in the night. And then there is tomorrow morning…
Please, oh benevolent Goddess of Pregnancy, send me a car!