Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

The great pregnancy food chase

By Josh Levs, CNN
July 12, 2013 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
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
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
A 15-year-old British schoolboy has struck a chord with his eloquent response to actress Emma Watson's United Nations speech encouraging men to join in the fight for gender equality.
Looking for ways to get into the best school for you, cut tuition costs or study smarter? Here are 10 tips for improving the college experience.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Lisa Respers France
CNN's Lisa France opens up about her lifelong struggle with weight, its physical and mental toll, and what she's doing to lighten the burden.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Bridget Cutler was still adjusting to being a new mom when she read a magazine article that changed her life.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Hundreds of students staged a walkout in Denver, accusing the school board of trying to censor what they're taught about U.S. history.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
People who identify as asexual feel little or no sexual attraction to other people. And as far as they're concerned, that's A-OK.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
Actress Emma Watson joins a cadre of celebrities who have used their star power to bring attention to gender issues.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Clemson University suspends mandatory online course that asked questions about sex lives, drinking and drug use.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Does the word "virginity" evoke discussions of sexuality or religious belief? That's the question residents in Fayetteville, Arkansas, are asking after a junior high student was asked to change out of a T-shirt that read "Virginity Rocks."
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1438 GMT (2238 HKT)
Not knowing exactly where her ancestors come from has always bothered Kelly Wallace, but she's heartened to learn about some of the famous cousins she never knew she had.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
Many superstar athletes from Michael Vick to Tiger Woods were ultimately forgiven by fans and the public. Could Ray Rice also get a second chance?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
The indictment of NFL star Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges has revealed sharp differences in cultural, regional and generational attitudes toward using physical force to discipline kids.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
cara reedy
The world often treats little people like Cara Reedy as less than human. She's learned to stand up for herself and shout back.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
The unheard voices of domestic abuse spoke up on CNN iReport when Rihanna's story of abuse came to light. In light of the Ray Rice controversy, we decided to bring back these stories that are still just as powerful as the day they were told.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
More than 3 million children witness domestic violence every year, and the damage can last a lifetime.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
As media outlets Monday circulated video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator, many wondered why the woman -- now his wife -- could remain with him.
September 4, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
The ways mother-daughter book clubs can help empower girls are the focus of a new book, "Her Next Chapter."
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 2140 GMT (0540 HKT)
Colleges are working to prevent sexual assault by educating students on affirmative consent, or only "yes means yes."
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
A mom questions if she wants her daughters seeing a "sado-masochistic relationship, dressed up as a Hollywood love fantasy?"
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
In 2014, why is society still so incredibly uncomfortable with public breastfeeding? Kelly Wallace gets to the root of the controversy.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Seven years ago, Barbara Theodosiou, then a successful entrepreneur, stopped going to meetings, leaving the house and taking care of herself. She grew increasingly distraught -- her two children were addicts.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, throws America's problem with talking about race into sharp relief.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)
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?
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
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.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT)
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.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Children sometimes get left out of our conversations about mental illness. The truth is, they suffer too.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
CNN's Kat Kinsman says that talking freely about personal mental health and suicidal thoughts can help others.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT)
morning person
Easy tips on how to improve everything from your dinner order to the song in your head to your career.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
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.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
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.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Some campers and counselors keep the campfire flames burning with summer flings that become lifetime commitments.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
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.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
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.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
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.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
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.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain.
Post your personal essays and original photos, and tell us how it really is.
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