Philip was born during the first lunar eclipse of the millennium.  There were many women giving birth that night. The nurses said it had something to do with the moon. There were two midwives, but only one doctor on call. I could hear nurses and midwives calling out, “this one is ready”. It felt like an assembly line. They were moving us in and out of the delivery room like Fords.

Philip was hungry from conception due to the fact that by week six or seven of my pregnancy I couldn’t keep anything down. By week eight I had lost 10 pounds. The doctors told me that I had something called hyperemesis gravidarum and put me in the hospital with an IV and daily shots of vallium in my thigh. I guess they figured I couldn’t throw up if I was sleeping. I had one rather unsympathetic doctor who told me the nausea was all in my head. I wanted to believe him because if that were true I could get up and walk out of there. As it happens, thanks to the IV I was feeling better when I was released a few days later. Unfortunately, as my husband parked the car when we got home, I got out and threw up on a tree. I was terribly embarrassed by the incident because I didn’t want any onlookers to think I was a drunk. I was later told that it wasn’t in my head. The vomiting was due to hCG, Human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone produced during pregnancy in the cells of the placenta. According to the numbers, I had enough hCG to be carrying 16 fetuses.  So nausea it was. For most of the pregnancy.

My baby was hungry because I couldn’t even keep down a glass of water. We tried everything. My mother-in-law bought me my favorite ice-cream. I couldn’t even look at it. On a good day I could manage a baked potato and a pear. My mom sent me a care package of Cream of Wheat from the US, a childhood comfort food. That generally worked well in the morning.  I would also eat some bread or crackers, but I generally vomited about 8 times a day for about 4 months. Some days it was just green bile and what appeared to be coffee grounds. Believe me, I wasn’t drinking coffee. Coffee and garlic were completely banned from the house. My sense of smell was so heightened I could tell you what people were having for dinner on any of the seven floors of the building.

I remember feeling thirsty all the time and often fantasized about drinking cold water. One of my roommates at the hospital, an older woman who was there for surgery, told me that her son was an only because her pregnancy had been like mine and there was no way she would have gone through that again! She said that she once drank a liter of cold lemonade knowing that it would come back up just to have a moment’s gratification.

One morning I woke up delighted from a vivid dream in which I was eating a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut. If only!

I did have a second pregnancy two years later. Unfortunately, the hCG numbers were even higher. I took the IV but refused other types of medication that could have harmed the child. The vomiting and nausea were even more intense than with the first. We lost our second baby at 16 weeks into the pregnancy. We weren’t told the reason, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it had starved. He/she would have been Daniel or Helena.

Maybe Philip has always been hungry. Maybe he can’t help it. Maybe he’s been this way since conception.

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