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By Lisa Pettit

Begins with a mild case of anemia exacerbated by pregnancy, preferably beyond the first trimester nausea which can be made worse by cold water or chewing ice. Disregard the slight anemia your OB tells you about and nod your head when she suggests iron pills. Attempt to take the pills but stop when they make you sick. Decide your craving is exactly that, a bone-deep need to fill your mouth with frozen pebbles and hear the crunch of them between your back molars. Fill your purple, BPA vacuum insulated tumbler three-fourths with ice then top with water. Sip for the next three hours, sure to pump the plastic straw regularly in order to break up the melting ice and create a debris of chewable shards on the bottom. When the last sip of water is consumed, shake the tumbler, jab the ice with your straw, then uncap and begin to pick off the pieces one by one. You know every crunch could weaken your enamel, break a tooth, leave you with dentures one day, but you don’t care. Be somewhat amazed by this apathy, this indifference that leaks into the rest of your life, especially to the life physicians say burgeons in your belly. 

Tell your husband of your current obsession and be surprised when he comes home with a biohazard bag full of pebble ice from the labor and delivery floor of the hospital where he works. Tell him you love him, maybe more than you ever have. Do this while filling your tumbler to the very top with pebble ice, not even bothering with water or straw or top. Carry this chalice of ice with you as you climb the stairs to do laundry or around the house when you clean. Set it next to you on the carpet when you collapse on the couch to take one of your multiple naps a day. Wonder how you ever survived without ice, what it was like to not be pregnant, if you will ever be normal again. Think about loving what’s inside of you. Is it possible? Feel nothing except the need for more ice. 

Nurse and protect this need to chew ice as if it were a dirty secret that would ruin you if it ever got out. Keep ice by your bed. Dream of holding your baby and a giant bag of ice. Don’t think about having to choose. You have two hands for a reason. 

Chew ice as you assemble the white crib with your husband and hang a sonogram picture on the nursery wall. Crush frozen beads as you hang small clothes in the closet, as you realize you know nothing of what it means to be a mother, and why did you ever decide this was a good idea? Suck and gnaw on ice until your mouth feels frozen. All the while nod when people say congratulations and motherhood is the best, it will change you forever. Think that it has already changed you; without it you would never have discovered ice. 

When the day arrives to deliver, you hoist your large self onto the hospital bed. Notice how the tie-back gown crunches under you like newspaper, the same kind you put out when the dog was being potty trained. The crunch has the slightest resemblance to that of breaking ice. Nurses draw blood and stick you with an IV. Act surprised but not that surprised when your test comes back revealing severe anemia. Your husband asks if you want anything. You say ice because you know firsthand how delicious that pebble ice is that falls out of the machine like manna in the desert. 

Labor pain is worse than you anticipated. Realize that your desire for ice is dwindling. This alarms you. Wonder if the pain is distracting you, or if the need for ice will only last as long as the baby still resides in you. Think how that last fact cannot be true. You will always love ice. Maybe. Feel less sure of that than you ever have. Shake your head when your husband offers you more ice and wonder why, why. When a six-pound, twelve-ounce human is placed in your arms, forget about the cup of ice melting into water by your bed. Forget about the lack of love and the possibility of no teeth. Ten fingers. Ten toes. Stare at a set of large gray eyes that stare back at you like glaciers bobbing above the Atlantic.



Lisa Pettit has a bachelor’s degree in English and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Brigham Young University received in 2018. She worked on Inscape staff for fall semester 2016 and oversaw creative nonfiction. Her essays have been published in Under the Gum Tree, Essay Daily, and The Tusculum Review. She lives in Idaho with her husband, five children, and mini goldendoodle. Lisa is a stepmother to three avid readers and a mom to two in the making.