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.