He Makes It All Lovely

It’s 3:30 am and I’m wide awake after a round of projectile vomiting more intense than I think I’ve ever experienced. This of course led to a furious round of googling using terms like “Vomiting as a sign of labor” since I’m at the point in my pregnancy where every little abnormality is obsessively analyzed as a potential sign that baby is almost here. Throwing up is most definitely an abnormality as I made it through my entire first trimester without doing so, but in the absence of other signs I suspect I still have a ways to go.

I woke up at about 2:30 am with some rather intense heartburn, something I’d been waking for hourly tonight after cooking up some of Pioneer Woman’s enchiladas and using a bottled sauce that was a bit spicier than I thought it would be. I relieved my bladder, of course, as that seems to be the answer to any and all nighttime discomfort I’m feeling lately, but I was still feeling a bit nauseous and so I stumbled into the kitchen and grabbed a mixing bowl to keep by my bed, just in case. The awful heartburn had me thinking sleep wasn’t coming anytime soon and so I started scrolling through tweets on my phone to pass the time when the vomiting started.

That Husband had been napping in the other room (poor thing, I always get so sad to see him work so much that he can’t even get a decent night’s sleep) but my gushing was loud enough to wake him up to come and see what was going on. As I threw up over and over and over he realized I had almost completely filled a medium sized mixing bowl with water and green enchilada bits he hurried into the kitchen for another dish. In between rounds he switched out the full bowl for an empty one and took care of disposing of my regurgitations. What would I do without him?

This is actually the second time he’s taken care of me after a round of vomiting, the first occurring over Thanksgiving weekend in 2007 after I consumed copious amounts of 0ne of my favorite holiday desserts, pumpkin roll. I was curled up in my childhood bed feeling sick and keeping a bowl next to my pillow just in case, he was sleeping out on the floor in the living room. I threw up, left the bowl, and made my way out to the living room to be next to him, vomit breath and all. He awoke a bit confused, got up, and cleaned up my mess without being asked. My parents weren’t very excited about waking up to see their daughter and her boyfriend sleeping next to each other, but I’m guessing he won a few brownie points with them for setting aside his disgust and taking such good care of me instead of waiting for my mom to wake up and make it all go away.

That selflessness and compassion has continued through our marriage and only intensified throughout my pregnancy. I haven’t written much about That Husband and the way he’s reacted throughout the pregnancy, and I realize now what a shame that is because if I don’t say it now I might forget. His face the first time he felt our baby moving, his willingness to administer massages (whether it be my swollen feet, my aching neck and back, or the squeamish job of loosening up my perineum), and how quick he is to agree that I should go to sleep when I talk about how tired I am, no matter what time of day or night it is or how many hours I’ve slept already, all of those things plus so much more constantly leave me marveling at what a fantastic husband I have. This baby and I are so lucky to have him around.

In a few weeks things are going to get infinitely more difficult for the two of us. Our entire world will be muddled in ways I’m not sure we can wrap our heads around. We’ll be sleep deprived. We’ll each have to refocus our priorities. We are adding a new title to our roles, that of mother and father, along with juggling the oftentimes wearying function of attempting to excel at being wife and husband to one another. It’s nights like tonight though, where I am sick of being pregnant, tired but unable to sleep, wishing it were 2 months, or 6 or a year from this point in time, anything but now, nights like tonight when I can see his concerned face out of the corner of my eye as I lean over a pool of my own retch, that I know we’re not just going to survive it, we’re going to exceed even our own expectations.

To my sweet husband, soon-to-be father, lover, my best friend. I love you so.

The fact is that we aren’t the people we were, even then, just a year ago, I know that. As I know things have been slowly eroding between us for a very long time. We are a little tired of each other, and there are annoyances and old scars that won’t be obliterated with a letter, even a long one written in the middle of the night in desperate sincerity, under the influence admittedly of a considerable portion of bourbon whiskey, nevertheless with the best intention of hope. That you may know how, over the course of this night, I came to the end of needing an explanation for our difficulty.

We have reached this place where everything we say seems either aggravatingly mindless and automatic, like something one stranger might say to another, in one of the thousand circumstances where strangers are thrown together for a time and the silence begins to grow heavy on their minds and someone has to say something. Darling, we go so long these days without having anything at all to do with each other, and the children are arriving tomorrow and once more we will be in the position of making all the gestures that give them back their parents as they think their parents are.

And what I wanted to say to you, what came to me as I thought about Louise and Charles on that day so long ago, when they were young and so obviously glad of each other and I looked at them and I knew it and was happy. What came to me was that even the harsh things that happened to them, even the years of anger and silence, even the disappointment and the bitterness and the wanting not to be in the same room anymore… even all that, must have been worth it, for such loveliness. At least I am here, at 70 years old, hoping so.

Tonight, I went back to our room again and stood gazing at you asleep dreaming whatever you were dreaming, and I had a moment of thinking how we were always friends too, because what I wanted finally to say, was that I remember well our own sweet times, our own old loveliness. And I would like to think that even if at the very beginning of our lives together I had somehow been shown that we would end up here, with this longing to be away from each other, this feeling of being trapped together, of being tied to each other in a way that makes us wish for other times, some other place. I would have known enough to accept it all freely for the chance at that love. And if I could, I would do it all again Marie, all of it, even the sorrow.

My sweet, my dear adversary, for everything that I remember.

Excerpt from The Selected Stories of Richard Bausch by Richard Bausch. Transcribed by me, audio found here.

46 thoughts on “He Makes It All Lovely

  1. I had a definite moment of confusion in reading that excerpt in my google reader, given that it wasn’t immediately clear that it was an excerpt (no handy dandy grey box like when I clicked over). I was decidedly confused as to why you had consumed a considerable portion of bourbon whiskey after throwing up and while pregnant, religious tenets aside. Whoooo.

    That aside, a beautiful post. :)

    Erin Reply:

    Me too!

    Jenna Reply:

    Oh my, I’ll have to keep that in mind. I subscribe to myself (for this very reason) and you’re right, it’s indented but only slightly. I think I’ll look into trying to find a plugin that makes those fancy quotation marks around the quote.

  2. So this is gonna be a weird comment, but um, I’m really glad I’m not the only person that throws up in mixing bowls. I get a lot of looks of disgust when I talk about throwing up in mixing bowls, and people get all “why not a trash can?” A trash can won’t go in the dishwasher, and it will never stop smelling faintly of vomit.
    I had pneumonia in the fall and I woke up every night for three nights straight vomiting w/ high fever and my fiance took such good care of me that it reassured me that he will be a fantastic husband and an even better father.

    Anna @ OatsnBoats Reply:

    I also using mixing bowls if I can’t make it to the toilet. It never occurred to me that might be odd.

    Anna @ OatsnBoats Reply:

    To clarify – I mean if I can’t make it to the toilet to vomit.

    Genavee Reply:

    Growing up we had a giant metal mixing bowl that was used exclusively for vomit. Now my husband has a similar bowl that he uses for popcorn – I don’t think he knows what I have planned for it if the need should arise.

    Evelyn Reply:

    Hah! DON’T tell him!!!

    Mrs. H-B Reply:

    Yep. I’m also a mixing bowl user. We had a big plastic one growing up. I already know which one of ours will come into play should we need it.

  3. Oh nooo :( I hate throwing up. Not that I know anyone who enjoys it, but really, it’s the worst. Glad you’re ok.

    A few years ago I was REALLY sick. By that I mean when all was said and done I had lost 8 lbs. I got sick while I was at Josh’s apartment so he had no choice but to take care of me. Needless to say, Josh saw me at my very absolute worst. It was then that I knew for certain he was a keeper.

    Hooray for our men! They deserve to be applauded :)

  4. Aww I’m sorry they made you sick. Brownie points to your H for being there for you. :) Hope you feel better!

  5. So sorry you’re feeling bad today!

    When my husband and I had first started dating (I can’t believe it’s been 7 years not) my parents were out of town and I got really sick. My husband (boyfriend at the time) came over to be with me and actually spent the night sleeping on the loveseat while I alternated between sleeping on the couch and bathroom floor. I was sooo worried my parents would be mad that he stayed over, but in the end they were just relieved someone was home to take care of me. My mom told me then that anyone who can hold your hair back while you puke, over and over again, all night long, might just be “the one.” I guess she was right. :)

    Lovely post Jenna. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  6. Sorry to hear that you had a rough night. I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy and have been experiencing some of the same. I called the nurse line at my doctor’s office, and the nurse I talked to said it’s not uncommon for women to have stomach problems again the last few weeks of pregnancy.

  7. Oh dang! I’m sorry about all the throwing up. That really sucks :(. I’m so glad you didn’t have to deal with this the whole pregnancy. This reminds me though that I need to get my overnight bag packed :).

  8. I got really confused about why you were drinking whiskey too:) Also another mixing bowl/pot vomiter here! when you’re sick a trash can is less than appealing…

  9. What a lovely post, Jenna. You will be so glad to have this to reflect on in the future, and That 1 will love to read about his/her parents compassion for one another before his/her arrival. So glad you documented it and welcomed us into your home again.

  10. Sweet post! I love love love that story you transcribed (I heard it on This American Life too)! Everyone should go listen to the audio! No really, everyone, now, go listen :)

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes yes! The quote is so much better when you know the whole story. It’s certainly my favorite short story ever.

  11. What a sweet post! TH sounds like a kind and caring husband – not just a hard worker and good provider.

    Sorry to hear you were ill – that’s no fun! Hope today finds you feeling better and catching up on your sleep.

  12. What a lovely post, and what a beautiful marriage. It really hit home for me this morning.

    I have epilepsy, which started up when I first started dating my husband. I think the way he took care of me, held me when I was shaking, loved me and wanted to be there for me is a large part of why I fell in love with and married him

    When I’m sick, I feel like I have nothing good to offer, like I’m just a burden or an annoyance, so helpless and worthless. Knowing my husband is there for me on those days because he loves me and not doing so would be inconceivable to him, seeing the way he looks at me when I’m at my lowest just fills my heart to bursting. Loving and giving is hard enough on good days, when the other person can give back, but doing it when they don’t have much to offer in return, it is such a powerful thing to be loved then.

    I’m so glad you have such a loving and supportive husband.

  13. Such a beautiful post and so lovely to hear about the love you share with TH. I think you two are a great team and that strength will power you through being parents and husband and wife. Hope you feel better too!

  14. When you said that you threw up in a bowl I thought, “Really? What about the toilet?”. Haha. Then, I remember that I’m pretty intent on making sure the toilet is spotless if I end up throwing up in it. I do NOT need to have THAT smell mixed with the other. Normally, I go for the sink. Sorry, that was random. Haha. I’m so glad you have such a caring hubby as TH and that he was there to take care of you. I think I’ve been lucky to not have been stomach sickly while being married. However, I remember when I had my wisdom teeth pulled and Ty was such a trooper and was there for me through it all. I sure loves him. : )

  15. Sorry to hear that you weren’t feeling well! At least you know you will soon have your sweet little baby wrapped up in your arms :) You two are going to be wonderful parents. What a lucky baby :)

  16. What a sweet post. I read the bourbon comment over a few times too, but I figured it out. Speaking of this American Life. I am seeing Ira Glass this weekend at UCLA. I have such a massive crush on him.

    Relationships are hard. At least mine is sometimes, but there is something amazing about those special moments when they hold your hair back as you puke. Those special moments just between the two of you make it all worth it.

    Jenna Reply:

    I would absolutely love to see Ira (he’s coming to Dallas), but I want to go to Wicked with TH instead :)

    Emmie Reply:

    Oh Wicked is a must. I love, love, love it.

  17. You are so amazing with words.

    Jenna Reply:

    Awww thanks hon. I almost didn’t post the story/quote at the bottom because the author shows me up so badly with his beautiful eloquence. :)

  18. What a nice post! I think I’ll bake something as a thank-you for Mr. Shortcake – he really has been a gem this whole pregnancy. :)

  19. This was a lovely post!
    I think there is nothing as heroic as a husband who has compassion and sacrifices for his family. Hope you’re starting to feel a little bit better.

  20. So sweet! I was sick like that while pregnant too, it was the worst! I think I must have eaten something bad because it only lasted that night. Hope you are feeling better!

  21. I have made Pioneer Woman’s Enchiladas before. They’re so good!!! But not when I was pregnant…sorry, Jenna, that was a big mistake :)

  22. That excerpt made me tear up quite strongly. Lovely.

    My husband is always willing to rub my aching shoulders, even though I’m not pregnant. Let’s hope he keeps it up. :)

  23. This is by far one of my favorite posts of yours. I am glad you have such a wonderful husband. And the doula in me of course cheers for perineum massage. Make it fun! and you will not regret doing it when you don’t tear. :)

    Hope you’re feeling better. Wish I could give you an answer on the vomiting.

  24. Beautiful words. I read your blog for quite a while and having studied British and American Studies as well, this post now finally got me into adding you to my googlereader. To many years of love!

  25. When I saw your two posts in my reader I thought… TH appreciation day… =D

    I love what you wrote here, and I have to say that I’m sure his love and compassion will continue to show as your baby comes and when each additional baby comes… it’ll probably be in different, but no less substantial, ways. For instance, this pregnancy, Chris wasn’t often able to hold my hair, rub my back, etc. Instead he would distract Addie, take her into another room and close the door to the bathroom so I could be sick without her peering into the toilet and clobbering me. And he often wakes up with her so I can sleep in–even when I’ve had more sleep.

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