In this installment of ‘Love, Recorded,’ Matt and Cathreen contend with a gurgling fetus.
On the first day of the second trimester, Cathreen calls me at work and says her morning sickness is gone. A miracle. Her voice sounds fluid and clear, happy the way you’d expect an expectant mother. I picture her moving around the house, weighing herself on the scale as she does each day. Since she got pregnant, she has lost three pounds, unable to eat or to keep what she eats down. I picture her cooking again, that good smell filling up the house. I picture the glow she is supposed to have.
The next day, she can’t leave the bed. If I shift in my sleep, she says to stop shaking her.
Each day, I enter us in the HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes, the prize another life. One of the things Cathreen does with her “free” time, in her imprisoned body, is look at real estate. She used to look at houses we could perhaps one day afford. Now she starts with the most expensive.
She grew up in a world of riches I will likely never be able to return her to. The money pit lurks always behind us.
Her family fortune teller said we would be well off soon enough. According to the stars, she was born with money in both hands. Running the heat this winter is killing us.
What do you do when your wife is in tears? Cathreen says she waited for 12 weeks, waited for 14 weeks; now what is she supposed to wait for?
She just threw up, three times.
I don’t know what to tell her. When I say it’s different for everyone, she says why is it worst for her?
On the weekends, she watches a Korean drama about a stunt woman who does a Freaky Friday with the man she will fall in love with. Anything to take her mind off her sickness.
This kind of twist is standard fare for Korean dramas. I remember the last drama Cathreen followed so religiously, about a girl who left the convent to pretend to be her twin brother rock star who was in America getting plastic surgery. I watched the last one, too. All the other rock stars fell in love with the girl and wondered if they were gay. I watched it to connect with my wife.
Cathreen says all the women in Korea are in love with the man in this drama. The theme song for the show is a number one hit right now. She listens to it on repeat.
They are making a 3D movie of The Great Gatsby. A senator is shot after being targeted by Sarah Palin, who has no official role in the government. Offensive words are stricken from classic novels. State secrets are endangered by Twitter.
In our house, the politics are feline. A glass shatters in the kitchen. When I get in there, Bear sits by the shards. I shout and thump him on the butt, only half to get him away from danger. I brush the glass into a paper bag and vacuum. Cathreen and I give Bear our angry faces. Bear attacks Boise.
It isn’t until an hour later that I realize the glass was sitting on the counter and only Boise can jump that high. Then I feel ashamed, sorry for Bear and for how I can never make him understand. He only sees things as they seem.
Cathreen says if the network kills off the man in the Korean drama, she will never watch that network again. Death is a possibility. She blames the writers, the writers.
I sit beside her and feel something itch up inside of me until it reaches my skin. “Scratch me,” I ask. She reaches out, but then she draws back and starts scratching herself, as if the itch has transferred to her. It hasn’t. I’m still itchy.
Later I talk on the phone with one of six engaged friends. We talk for an hour, and when I return to my wife, her face is red and she’s having trouble breathing. “Why didn’t you call me?” I say. “You always call me.”
She says, “I didn’t want to bother you.” She holds a tomato in her hand like a grenade. She says the baby is gurgling inside of her. Then she has sharp pains. I’ve never heard of fetuses gurgling. I don’t know what she’s feeling.
Sometimes, on the outside, she seems fine, and then she sits up and covers her mouth. The doctors said she would get used to this sickness. The doctors said she would discover what works for her. I keep telling her things will get better. At some point, the difference between well and ill has to become clear.
—Photo by Bixentro/Flickr