Lessons in Parenting
Feeding the Beast Within
Published on December 13, 2011 by guest author: J LeBlanc

As the holidays approach, what most people are thinking about is how not to eat too much.  I, however, am looking forward to the feasting. This is because breastfeeding quite simply makes me ravenous. It has slacked off somewhat as my son has begun nursing less and eating more solids, but I still experience surges of hunger where my usual eating habits just don’t seem to satisfy. When dinner is over I still feel a gnawing in my stomach.       

This is nothing new. It began sometime in my second trimester of pregnancy and has fluctuated since then. Often during pregnancy I would wake up in the middle of the night to discover I was ravenous. Getting up to eat a slice of bread helped, but the getting up part was daunting: fatigue pulled at me like so many barbells attached to my limbs, and disentangling myself from my network of pillows required too much effort.

My hunger spiked sharply just after my son was born. That first week home from the hospital, I remember my husband kindly bringing me what used to be a normal lunch: a hearty soup, some bread, some yogurt and fruit. It barely put a dent in my hunger. I wanted so badly to just get up and raid the kitchen myself, but soreness and fatigue held me back.

Lately, I have been experiencing another wave of hunger accompanied by some irritability. I assumed it was holiday season stress combined with the fact that I had been letting my son breastfeed at will while he recovered from a cold. As many mothers I know are beginning to wean their children, I didn’t expect that they were also still feeling famished.

However, at a recent playgroup the subject of hunger and irritability came up. Apparently I wasn’t the only one getting upset over things like my husband leaving his dirty socks on the coffee table. One woman had taken her husband to task for leaving the thermostat on the wrong setting, another for not stopping the car soon enough during a road trip. These hunger-induced flare-ups were neatly summed up by one mother at the group: We were simply “hangry.”

The term fit perfectly the wave of irrational anger that followed our steep drops in blood sugar. It had become to easy to put off my hunger pains because of all the urgent diaper changes, spills, and near misses of the day, telling myself I would grab something later only to find myself snapping at someone because I waited too long. I should have realized that my own reaction to being hungry wasn’t all that different from my son’s: In the midst of playing he suddenly starts whimpering and throwing himself into my lap. I resolved to keep snacks readily available for both of us.

Now if I feel an episode coming on, I have a ready response. “Sorry, I’m just feeling a little hangry. Please pass the pumpkin pie.”

J LeBlanc is a former high school teacher who resides in Lebanon, N.H. She is currently taking a break from teaching to stay home with her 8-month-old son.

Previous Posts by this Author: Having a Baby After Thirty

Babies and Television

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