Welcome to Five Minute Friday. A group of writers, five minutes, one writing prompt, zero editing. Just write. Join us! Today’s prompt:
[Way long. Lightly edited. Please forgive.]
It’s probably my mindset but the word “crave” takes me straight to pregnancy. As in the stories we hear (or maybe experience) of 3 a.m. cravings for jalapeño poppers or salt and vinegar chips.
The only things I craved while pregnant were things I knew I wasn’t supposed to have, mostly coffee and diet Coke. Especially when my exhaustion seemed to know no bounds, I craved them even more just for their magical energizing powers. But of course the tradeoff was nothing compared to how much I wanted a healthy pregnancy.
At first, I gave them up when we were “trying.” I might as well get used to it since it would be a requirement in the future, right? Except the future dragged on for years as we tried. After a while, I admit I got to the point of Screw it, I might as well enjoy a cup of coffee…. Or a glass of wine…. Or a diet Coke….
The minute I became pregnant, it was almost a privilege to give them up. Yes, yes, I’ll give them up if it means I get a baby! It didn’t take long after the first miscarriage to revert back to my baseline morning craving of a cup (or three) of hot, dark coffee. With the occasional diet Coke thrown in at my energy nemesis, the 3 p.m. slump.
I teeter tottered like this again the following year when I got pregnant again. Hallelujah, take away my French roast! Only it turns out you shouldn’t take it too far away because I can’t seem to hold on to a pregnancy more than a couple three months so give me back my freaking diet Coke.
The next time (think it’s tiring reading this? Ha!) was at this exact time of year. My blood test was the day after Christmas. I’d gone to the lab early in the morning since I’d been waiting the eternity of 10 days to find out if the latest infertility procedure had worked. Even though I’m not much for fighting the crowds right after Christmas, I decided to return a sweater. Mostly just to keep myself busy until the nurse called.
I was waiting to turn left onto a street that would lead me to the highway and to Coldwater Creek when my phone rang. As calmly as I could, I made my turn and answered the phone, thanked the nurse and hung up. Then I reached for my diet Coke and took a long, cold swig. I even talked to the can as I put it back in the cupholder. I told it goodbye. I was pregnant.
Weeks turned into months, months turned into a cautious optimism, optimism turned into a heartbeat, and a heartbeat turned into a heartbreak when those babies too (there were two at first) didn’t survive. Not that the others weren’t painful but this one. This is the one I thought was going to break me.
As I realized the world was eventually expecting me to return to it, I had fleeting thoughts of my post-miscarriage ritual. Coffee and diet Coke whenever I felt like it. But even the ritual cravings were different this time. Maybe it was during my “bargaining” phase but I felt like if I were to enjoy coffee again it would be a betrayal to the bab(ies).
I knew at the time it was crazy, and I know it still. But it didn’t change my mind. Not for a very long time. Until one day almost a year later when I needed to feel like I was moving forward rather than staying mired in the past. It sounds silly to think that a cup of coffee could make me feel “accomplished” but it did. I felt strange about it but I moved past it and returned to my old self who drinks coffee, only I was my new self who didn’t really know who or where I was but at least I was caffeinated.
The diet Coke though? That was different. I wanted one once in a while but I could never get past that one day. The one that ended up being the last day and remains so today. I haven’t had one since.
I’m not a bit naïve here. This “decision” still has vestiges of crazy written all over it. Give up diet Coke and get back a small slice of your sanity. Probably not a great marketing strategy for the company but it got me this far so I’m sticking with it.