Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

The great pregnancy food chase

By Josh Levs, CNN
updated 10:07 AM EDT, Fri July 12, 2013
While his wife is pregnant, Josh Levs writes, the least he can do is fetch fish tacos. And ice cream. And cheese sticks.
While his wife is pregnant, Josh Levs writes, the least he can do is fetch fish tacos. And ice cream. And cheese sticks.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fathers can feel powerless when their wife or partner is pregnant
  • While she's doing the heavy lifting, an expectant dad's tasks are limited
  • One area where soon-to-be fathers can help: Food runs
  • Josh Levs says satisfying his wife's odd cravings is the least he can do

Editor's note: CNN's Josh Levs covers a wide range of topics and also offers his personal take on issues affecting fathers and families. He covers fatherhood for HLN's Raising America. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

(CNN) -- What's the strangest thing you've ever asked for at a restaurant?

It was probably nowhere near as strange as the kinds of things I've been requesting all the time lately. And so have countless other dads like me.

We're part of a legion called the HPWs: the Husbands of Pregnant Wives.

"Do you have anything with peppermint?" I asked the sweet young man at an ice cream shop, while holding my cell phone to my ear, taking instructions from my wife who was in bed at home. "And cherries? Peppermint and cherries? But no other flavors. Just peppermint and cherry -- definitely nothing else."

Josh Levs
Josh Levs

"Um, no, sir," he answered demurely.

Then there's the call to the specialty food store near our home.

"Hi -- real quick -- do you have anything with apples in it? Something sweet with apples? Something sweet that's warm with apples or that you can warm up? It has to be warm. And sweet. And apples."

"We have a blueberry tart."

"Do you have an apple one?"

"No sir."

Those are relatively tame examples. Once we called around town because my wife suddenly "needed" mozzarella sticks, which I'd never seen her eat in all our years together. But not just any mozzarella sticks. We asked the workers unlucky enough to answer the phone at several restaurants to describe the approximate dimensions, quantity, and level of "friedness" of said mozzarella sticks.

When we miraculously found a pub whose answers sounded appetizing to my wife, we booked over, and I ran -- literally -- to get them while she stayed in the car, double-parked, having a nice chat with a police officer who saw her protruding belly and spared us a ticket.

It's always a hurry when my wife thinks of something she'll actually eat these days, since even the thought of most food makes her sick, and her whims can change on a dime. If we wait too long, she becomes disgusted by the very thing she craved.

One night I went driving to pick up chili, which I've never seen her order, from a restaurant we hadn't been to for months. Another night she had to have fish tacos, from a specific location of a local chain. Not the one near us.

Sometimes I've had to drive to the supermarket to order a particular sub sandwich, even though we had the same ingredients at home. The thought of the sub I'd prepare for her made her sick; the one from the deli counter at the same store where we bought the ingredients, however, was manna.

Don't get me wrong -- this isn't whining. I enjoy it. Given what our wives go through to bring life into the world, the guys I know are happy to do anything we can to help. (And after what I saw when my son was born into my arms in an emergency, my gratitude for all women who go through that is beyond anything I've ever imagined.) I'd wait in a ridiculously long line for fish tacos every day for months.

Watching our wives go through the physical challenges of pregnancy and knowing we can't relieve it sucks. Want to frustrate a guy? Show him a problem he can't fix. Going on wild goose chases for uber-specific foods counteracts that sense of helplessness. Here's something we can do.

You learn to enjoy it, and see the humor. After working late one night, I came home to find that she had used Zifty to get six potato skins delivered -- for $20.

Meanwhile, when I try to eat totally normal foods, she can't even stand being in the house.

The worst is chicken, which is tough for me because I basically subsist on kosher skinless boneless chicken breasts. If I so much as turn the oven on, her eyes bug out at me. You can almost see smoke coming out of her ears. (Sci fi fans: think Dark Willow from Buffy.)

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

During my wife's second pregnancy -- she's currently carrying our third child -- she sometimes barricaded herself upstairs in our bedroom and shoved a towel into the crack at the bottom of the doorway, while I cooked downstairs with a fan going, the balcony door open, and two candles burning to try to make a meal for our oldest child and me while not stinking up the house.

So now, I generally give in and eat whatever my wife says she can tolerate being near at that moment. Or do takeout and eat outside in my car. Aha -- another reason guys gain weight during our wives' pregnancies.

For whatever medical reasons, certain foods at certain moments give her the strength she needs. And, just like many other HPWs, I want my wife to have all the strength she can for the incredible work she and her body are undertaking for this child and for our family.

So next time you see an exhausted guy standing in line for takeout while talking or texting on his phone and asking seemingly obscure questions about the food, smile. It just might mean that somewhere, a loving mom and future kid are counting on him to get it right -- and he's doing what a dad's gotta do to pull through.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:25 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Mo'ne Davis is the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series. She's an inspiration, but will she change the face of the sport?
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
There is a reason why when people post pictures of themselves during their middle school years on Facebook for "Throw Back Thursday," we all stop and take notice.
It could cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise your child -- and that's not even including college costs, according to new government estimates.
updated 12:09 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
From parent to son, uncle to nephew, there's a raw, private conversation being revived in America in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Children sometimes get left out of our conversations about mental illness. The truth is, they suffer too.
updated 5:14 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
CNN's Kat Kinsman says that talking freely about personal mental health and suicidal thoughts can help others.
updated 1:26 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
morning person
Easy tips on how to improve everything from your dinner order to the song in your head to your career.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
The case of an Arizona mom who left her kids in a car during a job interview highlights the fluid line between bad parenting and criminal behavior.
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A children's book about gun rights has benefited from an unexpected boost in sales after it became the subject of a mocking segment on a talk show.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Some campers and counselors keep the campfire flames burning with summer flings that become lifetime commitments.
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
After letting her 7-year-old son walk from their home to a park to play, a Florida mother faces up to five years in jail for child neglect.
updated 11:36 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, who lost her son in a hot car, hopes mandatory technology in cars and car seats will stop child death from heatstroke in cars.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Not to mention your jeans, bras and pillows? Here's a definitive guide to keeping all your quarters clean.
Imagination Playgrounds have snaking tunnels, platforms and springy mats just like any other playground. But they're different in one fundamental way -- they're built by kids.
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Grammy Award-winning singer Sarah McLachlan, a 46-year-old divorced mom of two girls, talks about parenting, sex and whether women can have it all.
updated 7:54 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain.
updated 4:41 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
The case of a South Carolina mother arrested for allegedly leaving her 9-year-old daughter at a park while she was working sparks debate over how young is too young to leave a child alone.
updated 11:15 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
CNN's Kelly Wallace reveals 5 common parenting mistakes that many parents admit to making.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Is it a bad idea for parents to let kids drink underage at home, or does an early sip make drinking less taboo? Studies are divided on the subject, which is a tough nut for parents to crack.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cellphones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night
updated 2:40 PM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Professional photographer Timothy Archibald uses his camera to connect with his autistic son.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Do you wish you could outsource the summer cooking, cleaning, and camp planning associated with kids? Here are 5 ways to do it -- and why you shouldn't feel guilty about it.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
The death of a Georgia toddler in a hot car raises the question: should government or automakers get involved to prevent accidental deaths from heatstroke inside a car?
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
It's not just the 'baby blues.' Postpartum depression affects about 15% of new mothers. Here's what one 'warrior woman' is doing to fight it.
Post your personal essays and original photos, and tell us how it really is.
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
What does it mean to run "like a girl"? A new viral video points out that the answer changes depending on whom you ask.
updated 5:22 PM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
CNN reporter Moni Basu lived in the U.S. nearly 30 years before becoming a citizen. Here's what it meant to pledge her allegiance.
updated 5:07 PM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
Her daughter was cut from the team. Her son didn't get into that coveted honors class. It was hard but also helpful. Here's how one mom learned to find lessons in failure.
updated 11:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
The presence of transgender and gender nonconforming youth at NYC Pride March is latest effort to increase visibility of the transgender community.
updated 6:27 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
A new ad by the hair care company Pantene asks why women are always apologizing and raises the question of whether women say "sorry" more often than men.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new guidelines this week urging doctors to tell parents to read to their infants and toddlers.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Sat June 28, 2014
David Martinez grew up thinking he was just an average American kid. When he learned he was undocumented immigrant, it made him re-examine his beliefs about Mexican identity.
updated 1:47 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
A new survey says that working fathers, like working mothers, find it hard to balance work and family.
updated 6:29 AM EDT, Fri June 20, 2014
Jenny Mollen has no issue tweeting her breastfeeding. The new author talks motherhood and having a (more) famous husband
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
Experts say "mean girl" behavior begins as young as elementary school. Here's how to prevent raising a mean girl.
updated 6:40 PM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
While dads today don't get the same respect and attention as moms, and are often depicted as clueless, they've come a long way, baby.
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT