This kid loves to eat.
He latches on like he means business, sucks voraciously, finishes up with a contented sigh, then lingers, happily snuggled against my breast, unwilling to let his meal come to an end. He’s like his mom and dad, in that respect, as we often sit swirling the last dregs of wine in our glasses, cheeks flushed and bellies full, drawing out the moment as long as possible.
We, all three of us, love our meals.
The first thing most people asked me when they found out I was pregnant was what I was craving. A fairly common question to ask of a pregnant woman, I suppose, but as a known “foodie” amongst my friends and acquaintances, at times it felt my pregnancy appetite was the only topic of discussion. “What are you craving? Anything weird?” “What do you miss that you can’t have?” “Do you find that you’re hungrier?”
I craved, but not like you’d think. There were sweet things at first, but not to excess, and only remarkable because I never ate them much before. Then there was fruit – as much fruit as my stomach could hold, it seemed – berries, bananas, puckery pineapple, juicy melon and crisp apples. Avocadoes came next (full of good fats), then Indian food (with its warming, anti-inflammatory spices), and kimchi and kraut in all their fermented goodness. Salt and vinegar, both thirst-inducing, helped me to stay well-hydrated, I’m sure.
These cravings all made sense to me. Each food happened to provide specific things my body needed to make a healthy baby, but they were also, with the exception of the sweets, things I had always eaten anyway. I drank water to thirst and ate until I was satisfied, but I can’t say I felt any hungrier than I had before I was pregnant. In fact, for perhaps the first time in my adult life, I listened to my body and gave it exactly what it wanted, without guilt. I didn’t gain a single pound until the last week of my pregnancy, and at just shy of 41 weeks, I delivered a perfectly healthy 8 pounder.
But now that I’m nursing this little guy with his big appetite, I’m feeling hunger like I’ve never felt before. I’ll have yogurt and granola with fruit for breakfast (a habit I got into while still pregnant), and two hours later I’ll be hungry again. As the day goes on, Julian seems to want to nurse more often, and I’ll get hungry right along with him. I’ll grab a handful of nuts as we settle into our nest for a feeding, then halfway through I’ll ask Mike to bring me an apple, some crackers, a hunk of cheese or a big scoop of hummus. Our appetites are in sync. Most nights I’m nursing the baby while eating dinner.
For nearly 41 weeks, our son grew in my belly, his little bones and brain and organs forming from the nutrients my diet supplied. I’ve nursed him exclusively for nearly two months now, continuing to feed him with my body, and I’ve been amazed at how the baby boy I called my “little birdie” in the hospital, with his skinny legs and tiny fists, is growing plumper and taller and stronger every day. His appetite grows as he does. He demands, and I supply, and somehow, he gets exactly what he needs. Pretty cool stuff, that.
His hunger can be exhausting, it leaves me ravenous, but every meal I feed him is the most satisfying one of my life.