My husband takes me to Ojai for the weekend, where we find a little coffee house in town and I order a veggie sandwich with pesto and Swiss cheese. I tell myself I’m going to eat only half of it, like an alcoholic tells himself it’s just a slice of rum cake and it won’t trigger a bender and than he ends the night with one shoe and 47 stitches at County General trying to remember his sponsor's phone number.
I am just going to eat half the sandwich, and wrap up the other half for later. And maybe a few bites of the fruit on the side, because you know, it is Ojai and everything’s organic and there must be some nutrients in there the baby sorely needs. Don’t want a fetus with scurvy just because I’m trying to keep the eating under control.
I feel like someone who has had gastric bypass surgery. My appetite is bottomless, but even half a sandwich makes me feel painfully full these days.
Every single time I eat, since about week 19 of pregnancy, it's like I just pushed back from the table after bingeing at some sort of Roman bacchanal. I am both starving and obscenely full almost all of the time. It’s weird for your mind to want something your body can’t tolerate, to be insatiable and over-stuffed, magnetized and repulsed, craving and bursting.
And as I’m ordering the sandwich, and planning just to eat half, I’m seriously considering a chai latte, because we’re on vacation and it’s a vacation chai, and I think I smell nutmeg and what could be as creamy and comforting as a warm spicy beverage on an overcast day. It's not a glass of pinot or a puff of a Camel Light, but everyone knows empty calories take away the empty feelings, or the uncertain feelings or make the thoughts stop skipping like a broken record in my brain: how much is childcare? Is my vagina going to rip when this kid comes out? How exactly do stitches in the vagina feel? Where are we putting the crib? Are we supposed to take some sort of parenting class? How much does that c-section thing scar? What is a layette and do I need one? My stomach itches. My stomach itches. My stomach itches.
And that’s where a giant sandwich stops the record skipping with the mollifying power of pesto. Of course, when you use a sandwich to solve a problem you than have two problems, especially if your stomach real estate is being encroached upon by a six month old fetus.
I eat the entire sandwich before I remember not to.
There is now a pressure on my diaphragm like someone has glued a 30-pound lead paperweight to my solar plexus.
A stupid sandwich from an Ojai coffee shop involves a two–hour recovery period and an existential crisis. And by dinner, all I can hear is the siren song of homemade cornbread, singing to me from a basket on the table, luring me into dark, carbohydrate infested waters, where I will find Davey Jones’ locker filled with pats of butter and frosted with chocolate ganache.