Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea: How Can Pickle Juice Taste This Good?

When I finally polish off a big, fat jar of Vlasic dill spears, I gaze down at a pint or so of absolutely mouth-watering pickle juice. And I want to drink the whole entire thing.

Having had it with my sexual frustration and the attendant dirty dreams my psyche was screening for me each night, I called the nurse’ssStation at the fertility clinic and bluntly asked if I was now allowed to have orgasms. The nurse almost laughed at me.

“Yes, of course,” she said. “You could have been having them for the past two weeks.”

Hear that, Dashiell? The past two weeks! Weeks that I’ve spent all shot up with hormones, enduring sex dreams about Charles Bukowski and Coco Rocha (separately). WTF/FML. It didn’t have to be this way! I begin masturbating immediately, after confirming via the internet that it was perfectly safe for me to be using my Hitachi Magic Wand, the lawn mower of sex toys. Not only did my Internet investigation affirm that it was fine for me to use such a device, it introduced me to message board after message board of insanely horny pregnant women who were using various sex appliances to get themselves off multiple times daily.

Finally! After years of trolling TTC and pregnant person message boards, I’d finally found my online community! I wasn’t alone!

Meanwhile, my body is growing. While I expected my midsection to rise up with the growth of my bebe, I didn’t, like, know this would mean I could no longer get the Ferragamo boots I’d thrifted so many years ago zipped over my calves. I don’t know how many articles about the interconnectedness of the human ecosystem I need to read before I drop my Western presumptions and truly understand that something affecting one part of the body likely affects all of it, but here I am, growing a baby in my uterus and no longer fitting into my beloved boots and –- while we’re on the subject –- waking in the morning to find that my labia have bloomed during the night and are spilling out from the crotch of my underwear.

Really? I’m gaining pregnancy weight in my vagina? Or has my labia always fallen out of my underwear but I’m usually just too checked out from my body to notice? And now that I’m pregnant I’m just paying such minute attention to my physicality that I’m finally noticing that my labia has always been too big for my underwear, and I need to go up a size?

I turn to the internet, wondering not for the first time how pregnant women got through the day back when they couldn’t just pick up a magic gadget and have the answer to their latest concern flashed at them in a millisecond. Up pops a blog post titled "My Swollen Vagina and Other Things Nobody Told Me About Pregnancy." I didn’t even have to read the essay -- just the title was enough to reassure me. Dashiell took me to Target and I purchased some underwear roomy enough to contain my phat new labes.

I get a call from Dr. Betsy, our OB. She wants to see me earlier than normal and get me another ultrasound –- in fact, a few additional ultrasounds -– because of my recent miscarriage. I am psyched to get the extra care. Because of the miscarriage, I really am finding myself wanting tons and tons of reassurance that this pregnancy is on a better track than the last. And I like feeling like our OB is really thinking about us and taking good care of us. I’m so happy we have an OB that we really like, and who seems to like us as well! Which makes me pause and address a sort of mental glitch I know I have, wherein I believe I am my doctor’s –- any and all doctors, through my entire life -– favorite patient. Is this narcissism? Delusions of grandeur?

I think I have suffered from both such mental illnesses, but more in my 20s when I was drinking a bunch. Now I think I have only as much narcissism and delusions as a small press writer needs to get through the day unscathed. But I am struck by this happy feeling, which I always get, that I am Doctor’s Pet. What the F is that about? Dr. Betsy is a revered and respected and beloved doctor at our hospital, and I’m sure the care she shows to all of her patients is what put her in that esteem. I’m not special. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that I am, and all of my doctors notice this! Anyway. I’m sure there is a very special type of doctor who would like to hear all about this, and they’re called psychiatrists.

One afternoon, as I am beginning to prepare Dashiell and I dinner, I become gripped –- gripped! -- by a craving. A pickle craving. I have always loved pickles; they’ve always been a favorite food. But now that I’m pregnant, what once tasted wicked good now tastes frigging marvelous. I’m finding that that’s the thing with pregnancy cravings. It’s not so much that you are overcome with a panting, desperate need for some food you’d never normally eat. It’s more like the stuff you generally enjoy takes on this whole new dimension of deliciousness. I’m so into pickles right now I’m even hankering for those sweet, bread–n-butter pickles I normally don’t like so much. Basically, if it’s pickle-related, I want it in my mouth.

When I finally polish off a big, fat jar of Vlasic dill spears (oh, another thing, I’m not quite as into the health food store pickles that have probiotics and are actually good for you –- I’m going out of my way, in the opposite direction of my local food co-op, to get pedestrian Vlasic and Del Monte pickles at the 7-11 or the liquor store) I gaze down at a pint or so of absolutely mouth-watering pickle juice. And I want to drink the whole entire thing.

Again, it’s not like I’ve never enjoyed a mouthful of pickle juice. When I was drunk or hungover I especially liked to steal gulps from the jar in the refrigerator. I always felt sort of guilty and stealthy about it, recognizing there is perhaps something gross about it and also haunted by my grandmother’s warning when she caught me drinking pickle juice as a child that it would "dry up my blood." I’ve generally weaned myself off my errant pickle juice desires, but now, pregnant, with a big salty green jar of it sitting on the counter, I am weak. Weak! But not too weak to grab my magic information screen, aka my smart phone, and quickly Google "pregnant pickle juice."

And what do I find? Another sisterhood! Much like the sisterhood of compulsively masturbating pregnant women with vibrators, there also exists an online sisterhood of pregnant women who have complicated feelings about their desire to consume large quantities of pickle juice.

"I work in a deli," one stricken women writes, "and every day, when I transfer the pickles from the bucket to the jars I drink about a quarter cup of the juice. Is this okay?!?!?!" I see myself in her shameful sipping and frantic cry for help. And her cry is answered! A chorus of vinegar-swilling pregnant women chime in about their own habits, encouraging her not to worry about it and drink that pickle juice with abandon!

"Maybe just drink a lot of water afterwards," one prudent woman suggests, "To dilute the salt in your system, as the salt can be bloating."

I decide that’s what I’ll do. I fill up a mason jar with water. And then I pound the f*ck out of that jar of pickle juice. I slug it all back in one giant gulp. It is, easily, the best tasting, most cosmically satisfying food thing I have ever ingested in my life. I feel like there is a halo of light radiating from the crown of my head, surrounded by sparkling, pickle-green stars. I cannot express to you how yummy it was. It was like if every desire one has ever had in one’s life was satisfied at once. Forget the baby that is at the ultimate end of this situation –- right then, the reason I was pregnant was to make pickle juice taste this good.

I was pretty full after drinking the whole jar of Vlasic juice, but I did the right thing and sucked down the jar of water, to undo any damage. Um, too little, too late. Already bloated from the onslaught of IVF hormones being shot into my ass every night (not to mention the actual zygote swiftly growing in my uterus) the pickle juice pumped my bloatation up to a level I have never before experienced. Like, one minute I am sucking down pickle juice in a heroin-like state of pure ecstasy, then I am sort of panting and processing the experience of pure bliss I just experienced and then whomph it’s like I’m having triplets. Dashiell soon comes home from work and finds me there in the kitchen, still sporting a residual high from the pickle juice, marveling at the size of my stomach.

“I drank pickle juice,” I explained. “Look how bloated it made me!” I look about four months pregnant. I think I’m about four weeks. I wonder how I’m going to manage my new pickle juice habit and deal with the intense post-juice bloating, but as I have found to happen, the pregnancy craving tapers off, and soon I’m not even interested in pickles anymore, having moved on to sour, sloppy grapefruits, ice-cold from the fridge.