Onions and Cigarette Butts

Sarah del Rio
Written by Sarah del Rio

My one and only pregnancy started out like many others – with crippling exhaustion, inexplicable cravings for meatballs, the purchase of about 10 pregnancy tests (“Is that a line? I can’t tell. Should we call the help number? Get a magnifying glass”), and copious amounts of drool on my pillowcase. Other than those fairly standard symptoms, however, I honestly felt like being pregnant wasn’t too different than being not pregnant.

For the first six weeks.

Around my sixth week, I made the healthful decision to eat a Quizno’s sub. And I ordered it with beaucoup onions, because I like it when my mouth smells like a grody armpit. I began eating the sub with gusto, but about three chews in, I realized that someone had played a terrible joke on me and poured the contents of an ashtray all over the inside of my sandwich.


I tore off the top bun in horror, only to find what you might already suspect: there were no cigarette butts anywhere on the sandwich.


I replaced the top bun and began to eat again, only to have my mouth fill once more with the taste of tobacco ash. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. Had the Quizno’s guy smoked 3 packs of unfiltered Winstons while making my sandwich? Was there possibly something wrong with the meat? Had the mayonnaise gone off? I sure as hell wasn’t going to finish off the rest of the sandwich in order to find out. I threw the Rotten Butt-Tastin’ Sub in the garbage and went my “merry” way.

I felt a little queasy that day, but I chalked it up to the fact that my sandwich had tasted like a gas station toilet bowl. It never crossed my mind that this experience might be an indication of what the pregnancy books call a Food Aversion™, and that my beloved onions would taste like cigarette butts for the next eight months. That particular day, all I knew was that Quizno’s was beyond disgusting (it isn’t) and I would never eat there again (also untrue.)

Besides. I felt much better the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after…

Wait a minute.

What’s that smell?

Is my husband cooking? Why is he cooking? WHAT is he cooking?

It smells like fried butthole.

That… erp. That is…nauseating. I must get to the bottom of this.






Oh shit.


With that, the morning sickness had begun.

And it didn’t end. At least, not when it was supposed to. Believe me, I tried waiting it out. But it just kept coming. My daily existence consisted solely of sleeping, barfing, and peeing my pants while barfing. My doctor suggested an anti-emetic, but because I am old enough to have learned in high school about Thalidomide and its ensuing wave of flipper babies, I decided to tough my way through it until I was about 16 weeks along.

At that point, I was losing weight and severely dehydrated, so my OB/GYN forced the issue and wrote me a prescription for the anti-emetic called Zofran. I was hesitant (flipper babies), but after I started taking the blessed Zofran, I could actually keep some food down, and went from throwing up multiple times a day to multiple times a week.

But the morning sickness NEVER fully went away. Even on the delivery table, with copious amounts of Zofran running through my IV drip, I still managed to puke twice. (The upside, however, was that I didn’t poop. With nothing in my stomach, my bum stayed as clean as two Georgia peaches. Relatively speaking.)

Not until my son was pulled from my vagina red-faced and covered with vernix, did my morning sickness finally leave me. And I know this is hard to believe, but I swear I actually *felt* it happen. That moment was possibly the best experience of my entire life – well, second to the whole “bringing a human life into the world”—and I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was resplendent. After nine months of Blerg Stomach I finally felt normal again.


Hospital food never tasted so good. I inhaled every shit they put in front of my ravenous face. The gross grilled chicken. The gross mashed potatoes. The gross limp vegetables. The gross pudding. I didn’t even ask for my family to bring in food from the outside world, I just ate whatever the hospital served me. Didn’t care. Didn’t mind. I just ate and ate and ate. I was delighted. I was overjoyed.

I was unwittingly establishing a pattern that would last for years.

I still eat to make myself feel better. I revel in it. Don’t get me wrong – I had my binge-y moments before my son was born. But after the fact? Eating became my regular, day-to-day comfort. And as with the hospital food, what I was eating didn’t even need to be particularly tasty. It just made me happy to be chewing and swallowing, swallowing and chewing, until my belly was full.

Now, that pattern is taking its toll. I am overweight, out of shape, and other health problems are also cropping up as a result. As much as I hate to leave behind what made me so happy for so many years, my self-medicating in this way needs to stop. I can’t do it all at once. I can’t do it overnight. But I need to do it.

Right after this cookie.


About the author

Sarah del Rio

Sarah del Rio

Sarah del Rio is a comedy writer whose award-winning humor blog est.1975 brings snark, levity, and perspective to the ladies of Generation X.

Despite being a corporate refugee with absolutely no formal training in English, journalism, or writing of any kind, Sarah earns her daily bread as a freelance writer and editor. She has also contributed to several anthologies, including I STILL Just Want to Pee Alone, the latest installment in the national-bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone series.

Sarah contributes regularly to BLUNTMoms and has made frequent appearances on The Huffington Post Best Parenting Tweets of the Week List. She has also been featured on Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop.

You can also follow Sarah on her blog est.1975 and on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • I feel your pain! Both of my pregnancies were all that and then some. I always joke that it’s the best diet – the only time I have ever lost 30lbs in 6 weeks! I too had to be medicated my entire pregnancy and also reveled in that magic moment of feeling the sickness leave my body. I have never eaten so many pb & j sandwiches in my {adult} life! I also lost much of my muscles in my body due to the extreme weight loss and being bed ridden. Still working on recovering!

  • I had no nausea with my daughter. None. But the smell of garlic cooking made me murderous. With my son, I was nauseous for seven weeks. It was terrible. I could also feel the moment it left me because it was on New Year’s Eve. I was 14 weeks along.
    I always wondered how people who were sick until the baby came out..could handle that! I even had a friend who was nauseous for a few more weeks after her son came out. Hormones, I guess.
    You are all strong survivors.

    • “I always wondered how people who were sick until the baby came out could handle that!”

      Answer: I couldn’t. I didn’t. I was a complete wreck my whole pregnancy. Tired, nauseous, a big lump of baby life support. I think I had sex with my husband like twice that whole time and believe me that is NOT normal. I just slept and did nothing for nine months. It was awful. AWFUL!

  • I could actually hear the sound of my mom smashing out her cigarette in the station wagon ash tray when I read your sandwich description. Nice job. I had nausea all the way through all of my pregnancies, but I never threw up once. Until I was in the L&D whirlpool. (They were trying to alleviate my horrible back labor; I wasn’t trying to have a water birth. Not that there’s anything wrong with those.) Anyhow, I was in the L&D whirlpool trying to breathe through my contractions, and I puked everywhere. EVERY. WHERE. The walls, the faucet, the bath, the toilet next to the bath–everywhere. It’s a beautiful birth story really.