Dede Wilson

co-founder of

How to Satisfy My Hunger

There were two times in my life when I was truly, truly hungry. I’m talking about being so hungry, you can feel the physical emptiness in your stomach. You feel the hole, the void in your gut and you simply must eat. This isn’t true starvation, of course, but the sense of emptiness is profound. Curiously, both times happened in the middle of the night, when the energy is often dreamlike and even normal sounds, thoughts and actions have a surreal quality. Both occasions also revolved around birth.

The first time was at about four in the morning, right after I had birthed my twins. I had had my daughter at home and had hoped to have my twins at home as well, but not even my midwife, Mimi, would comply. So I hired her to come to the hospital with me and I succeeded in having them completely naturally, with no drugs or intervention. Just to make things interesting, my body decided to have the smaller baby first, which is not typical. Usually with twins the heavier one settles lowest in the birth canal, and if all goes well, paves the way for the second smaller one to come right out.

Freeman was born first, just shy of six pounds, healthy and robust. His brother wasn’t budging and he was not only over a pound larger, but he felt as though he were up under my ribcage. His heartbeat was fine, so Dr. Mc Ginn said we would just wait until he was ready. Dad Harry and older sister Ravenna took Freeman to the nursery, while Mimi stayed with me to finish business. A very long and laborious forty-five minutes later, Forrester decided to make his grand entrance. The exhaustion crashed over me like a palpable wave.

After both Forrester and I were cleaned up a bit, we were brought to a private room, where finally, our entire family came together. That’s when it hit me. I was absolutely ravenous; the word “famished” came to mind. Not only did my body look like it had burst and birthed a beach ball, but I could feel the hollowness internally as well. I was empty, drained mentally and physically. I needed food, Now.

The cafeteria at this small town hospital was closed. The only option was the peanut butter and jelly that the nurses stored for such occasions at their station. I walked to the little kitchenette area myself and found a loaf of white bread. The smooth Skippy peanut butter was on the counter, the grape jelly was in the tiny under-counter refrigerator. I made a sandwich and took a bite. The moment it reached my stomach, it was like it hit the bottom of an empty vessel. It felt like it fell in. If I were a cartoon, you would have heard a “thud”. Somehow the first taste made me even hungrier. Four bites and it was gone. I made another and quickly ate that one too. I was struck by the fact that I had never really been hungry before. It was not an unpleasant sensation, just a new one. I laughed to myself; how odd, as I certainly had thought I had experienced hunger before, but this was a new beast and a simple peanut butter sandwich satisfied me as no other food ever had. Then my thoughts turned to the two tiny babies back in my room that were depending on me to satisfy their hunger. The moment dovetailed into a perfect circle and I headed back to my sons, who were waiting for me with eager mouths.

The second time also involved birth, but this time I was helping to bring puppies into the world. I had been actively showing my bull terriers for years, but I had never seen a litter being born. Bull terriers are not natural whelpers. Some breeds pop those babies out with no help whatsoever. It is a rare bull terrier litter that doesn’t need constant supervision and intervention by a knowledgeable breeder. I won’t get graphic, but there is a lot of hands on work to be done, and often, the labor can go on for 24-hours or more, so everyone is exhausted. Marion Dussault, the breeder of all my dogs, had been breeding bull terriers for over thirty years, so she was the expert. I was to be the extra pair of hands. To add a little spice to the situation, we actually had two dams due to give birth within a day of one another.

Olivia went into labor and over a day later, the last puppy was born near 8:00pm. Watching and aiding in any kind of birth is a remarkable experience and we were all drained, mentally and physically. Belle went into labor close to midnight and although she was just starting her birthing, Marion and I had been up for thirty-six hours at this time. Well, that might be a little disingenuous. Marion was somehow running on all cylinders, while I was fading in and out and napping for several minutes at a time.

At about 3:30am, I was drifting in and out of consciousness, waiting for the next puppy to arrive. My nose woke me up. I smelled bacon. I focused my senses; I could hear it too, sizzling away. Now I was fully awake and my mouth started salivating as a surge of excitement began to build in my body.

Marion yelled to me from the kitchen, “Come and get it!”

I walked around the corner to see her holding out a frying pan. In it were a few slices of bacon and a couple of fried eggs.

“Sit down and eat this,” she said. “It’ll do you good.”

I didn’t have the energy to form words. She spooned the first bite into my mouth as we were both standing there. Not only was it as if I had never eaten eggs or bacon before, but they tasted more delicious than anything I had ever put in my mouth. They were satisfying on a level that seemed to reach into the very depths of my hunger. I grabbed the fork, sat down, placed the pan on a trivet in front of me and started eating. Each fork-full was as gratifying as the first. As remarkable as the food was, so was the fact that Marion was taking care of one new mommy, six new babies, a laboring mom and now me as well. How did she do it? I was as in awe of the flavors in my mouth as I was in her ability to take care of us all. Both the simple essence of the eggs and bacon, and the simple act of preparing them, were both more profound than I could have imagined.

Funny thing is that no bacon and eggs ever tasted the same after that. It was the coalescing of the time and place and the loving act of preparing me a breakfast dish when I needed it most, even before I knew it myself. Sometimes eggs are the world’s most perfect food and sometimes the act of feeding someone fills much more than one’s belly.