Young Mangos After Dark {Pregnancy Cravings in Jakarta}


Hey. Hi. So, immmmm….it looks like I’m incapable of thinking, talking, reading, writing, or watching anything that doesn’t have to do with pregnancy. The only other task which I’m reasonably capable of undertaking is stalking baby clothing and monochromatic nursery decor on the internets. 


So. Lucky you. Welcome to yet another blog post chronicling the thrilling and utterly significant ways in which I’m pregnant. (And let’s not kid ourselves, this post is basically thinly veiled attempt to to distract my shopping fingers and save that credit card. (WHATEVER, JANUARY SALES.) 


Today I typed the following sentence: “Basically, I just want to murder everything, but don’t worry, in a normal, healthy way.”


I think it’s safe to say I’m officially a category two pregzilla. 


(Now, watch as I effortlessly segue into a cross-cultural observation, and trick you into thinking that this blog still has some tenuous connection to semi-smart thoughts about third-culture-kids and cross-cultural parenting. Okay, go.)


In Indonesia (or at least in Jakarta, because in a country as culturally and ethnically diverse as this, you really can’t make sweeping judgments, but boy do I enjoy oversimplifying matters, it’s kind of my stock and trade, so.) I’m learning that pregzilla symptoms emerge much earlier in pregnancy than they tend to in the Eurasian West. 


We Western Euros tend to allow women in their ninth month of pregnancy a bit of leeway in the sanity department. We forgive floods of tears, mood swings, lower activity levels, unreasonable demands, and excessive hoarding of baby goods as a woman approaches the end of her pregnancy. But for the majority of the gestational period, it’s life as usual. I mean, you go to work, you take care of the kids, you cook your dinner, and get on with life, right?



Here, though, as I’ve written before, basically from the moment of conception women are treated like delicate flowers who can’t be expected to lift their own shopping bags, let alone carry their own existing children. If a woman has any degree of disposable income, you can bet that she’s hired a helper to do basically all of the domestic chores for her. 


And while I”m a bit contemptuous of this  delicate flower attitude, one Indo pregzilla demand that I do find sweetly charming is the idea that food cravings must be satisfied. 


I was recently chatting with a young guy from Jakarta who told me about his aunt who, when pregnant with quadruplets (!!!!!) had a bonkers-crazy craving for young mangos. (And here's where my argument falls a bit short, because quads? Lady, you can do whatever you want. Sorry. But that's just bananas.) So, as a dutiful nephew, he was summoned at two AM to attend to his aunt and her mango craving. He had to drive around the entire city, call various friends, and search far and wide through all the city’s wet markets in search of this acidic treat. And there was no question that he would perform this task. His aunt wanted young mangos. And so he went off to get young mangos. Sleep be damned. 


The guy explained to me that failure to fulfil the alimentary cravings of a pregnant lady would result in a baby with uncontrollable drool. You you just gotta feed the craving.


Similarly, an acquaintance of mine whose wife is also pregnant keeps telling me of how she rouses from sleep at midnight and asks that he cook a meal for her. And so he does. Nightly midnight feasts, cooked up by a sleepy, hardworking husband. 


I kind of love the gender-reversal here, the expectation that a pregnant woman should be indulged, that the body needs to eat what it craves, the act of feeding a growing belly that is, in turn, feeding a growing human. 


And also, it kind of gives me a bit of leeway with my own husband as I burst into tears (again!) at the breakfast table because he asked me what the plan for the day was, I can say, hey. At least I’m not waking you every night to cook me braised oxtail with gnocchi, okay? 


So, I’m curious, do you have any tails of pregzillaness, or other relevant cultural tidbits to share? Come. Help a preg out. I need some distraction. 

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