Hey, are you gonna eat that?

My, how a week can change things.

A week ago last night, we safely delivered our third child, a 7 lb 13 oz baby girl. She and I are both doing quite well, and I for one am happy that we have made each other’s acquaintance. Sometimes she seems to differ on that, but I’m hopeful that I can eventually convince her of my loyalties.

Now, this event has necessarily changed our household. We’re a family of five, which has consequences in several areas — from the type of car we drive (we did reluctantly purchase a minivan a couple months ago) to the fact that the boys are now outnumbered. By the time you do this a third time, many things seem much less overwhelming, much more manageable than the first or even second child seemed. But there are also those things that you forget about, and are reminded of in dramatic ways (how can a five-day old girl produce that much poop that shoots that far out of her diaper, managing to get all over my pants and all of our bedding?).

But this blog is about food, right? And that’s the change I’m here to discuss. I mourned (via blog posts) for my entire third trimester the loss of my appetite. It was so severe and so challenging (you can’t just not eat when you’re growing a baby), it seemed as though I would never really enjoy food again. To paint a clearer picture for you: Tim and I actually dined at 5&10 one night a few weeks ago, and I didn’t even write about it. And it was a really good night, but I just didn’t have it in me, the next day, to ponder the meal enough to share.

But there are these things called hormones. They pull crazy stunts, wreak havoc in a body. Sending signals here and there, calling shots, like a chemical version of Captain Kirk sitting at the bridge (ok, if I thoroughly examine that analogy, I would have to say that our brains are the Captain, and the hormones are little ensigns, or some other little worker-bee, carrying messages). The point is, I have been amazed at how, once again, my appetite returned with a joyful vengeance within just hours of delivering a child.

Our daughter was born at 10:30, and by midnight or so I found myself sitting in my postpartum room, starving. I asked my nurse if I could get something to eat, and she looked at me like it was the first time she’d ever been asked that question. Um, well, the cafeteria is closed, and I guess I can look around in the snack room for something. And I’m thinking, really? I’m the first woman to deliver in this hospital late at night, and the first one who happens to work up a hunger after GIVING BIRTH TO A CHILD? So she manages to scrounge up a couple of half-sized turkey sandwiches. I willingly give one to my husband, because he had quite a physical and emotional workout that night as well (I was still feeling a bit generous when it came to sharing, at that point).

Over the next several days, with the exception of the meals the hospital did actually willingly provide — I’m still convinced that what I was served would not really fall under the definition of food — I began to consume more and more with each passing day. Tim brought me a pumpkin latte from our local coffee shop each morning (sweets are no longer causing nausea, so it’s like I’m making up for lost time), as well as a dinner spread (complete with chocolate layer cake for desert) from The Grit. I think I maxed out my “snack room” privileges by requesting regular bowls of cereal, peanut butter, and graham crackers (to make up for the lack of nourishment from my “meals”).

We came home Sunday afternoon, and I began exhibiting characteristics of a starving canine. A friend wanted to bring me lunch one day early in the week, from a great local Cuban-esque restaurant called Cali-n-Tito’s. I ordered my favorite: a fish taco, with a side of sweet plantains. She told me that they have a lunch special like that, but it includes two fish tacos, and I said sure, get that, and I’ll share it with Tim. See what was happening? My mind still had not caught up with my new eating habits. So she brings lunch, and before I can sit down, Tim had scarfed his taco and left for a meeting. I sat down with my taco and plantains, and moments later found myself staring at a clean plate. And my thoughts began to turn a bit vicious — How dare he eat my taco? See what was happening? My mind was beginning to convince me that all humans in my general vicinity were only there to compete for my food. Had my friend not gotten a head start and already finished her lunch, I might have taken desperate measures.

Outside of the fact that I could be considered a potential danger to others when faced with the question of who’s gonna eat the proverbial last piece, there are several things for which I’m quite thankful during this season of perpetual hunger. First, it’s just nice to be hungry again. With no heartburn, no nausea, no physiological reason to not eat. Second, we have a host of friends who have generously offered to bring us meals — so I don’t have to think about cooking, I just have to eat. I can do that. And third, I’m a nursing mother. There’s a reason I’m hungry, and a reason why I really don’t care at all how much I eat. Oh, the glorious freedom.

So if you happen to live in Athens, and by chance end up being at the same place as me, and there happens to be food present, you might want to give me some room. I can give the appearance of a content, glowing new mother; but given the right opportunity, I’m afraid I might bite. If you’re unsure what you might encounter, just throw me a piece of dark chocolate, and take that opportunity to run. And, you might want to take your plate with you.

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