In this week’s Love, Recorded, the morning sickness starts to fade.
And then, almost exactly at the 20-week mark, the morning sickness starts to fade. Suddenly pregnancy seems almost as beautiful as we had thought it would be. I touch my wife’s belly and the baby responds. Cathreen goes shopping for onesies. We buy socks that look like little shoes. Her mother and one of my friends send outfits I can picture making them smile, because I know that smile. It is the smile of tiny clothes.
At the beginning of 2011, Cathreen’s family fortune teller predicted the morning sickness would end in February. When the month began badly, I tried not to say, “I told you so.” Now it is Cathreen’s turn.
The first thing we do is go to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. For months, Cathreen has been staring at pictures of maki on her computer. It’s still off-limit to her now, but she watches me eat as if she can taste it. I eat seven plates of sashimi; I wish I could say this isn’t simply an act of gluttony. She snaps open endless crab legs.
Later, we fight our stomachs.
The fortune teller also said that the time between February and the birth would be the happiest of our marriage. After that will come the plunge of parenthood. A friend of mine recently described this as a three-year blur.
I want my wife to eat until her cravings disappear, to get what she wants for as long as she still can.
Our two existing babies, the cats, run rampant all day—when I come home, Cathreen lists their crimes. I am the stick to her apple, a role I dread. I worry the cats resent me. I worry about the baby.
Bear is growing into a little torturer. He keeps Cathreen awake when she should be sleeping. He chases Boise through the house. Sometimes we see him squat down with his butt in the air, Boise before him. You can see the lion in him. Boise a doomed gazelle.
We try to tire Bear out with games—a laser, a feather attached to a string. He will chase a toy until he can barely breathe. He thinks he is invincible. When we stop, he collapses on the hardwood, panting. You can see the confusion on his little face.
It is time, we know, for him to lose his balls. We feel sorry, but the absence will calm him. We barter his pain. You can see where I’m going? With the baby?
Here’s what we still have to worry about with the pregnancy: the doctor says the rash spreading across Cathreen’s chest is unidentifiable. It has been spreading for two months. The doctor refers us to a dermatologist, though in order to see one, we have to be referred again by Cathreen’s primary care physician.
Our doctor doesn’t seem to remember she’s seen the rash before. I’m sure she suggested then that it was harmless; now it’s an emergency.
We show up at the hospital without an appointment and they let us see a nurse practitioner. Cathreen likes him. He’s a nice young guy who immediately takes the pregnancy into account. Strange that this happens so rarely. First pregnancy, they usually say, like we just haven’t been pregnant enough to find baby-making routine.
This guy makes sure to tell us the rash will not affect the baby before grabbing a skin doctor on the spot. The doctor says the rash isn’t anything he knows, but that we wouldn’t want any disease he knows. They put Cathreen on an antibiotic
Pregnancy is often only barely reassuring.
This isn’t even the only rash. After one night out, Cathreen legs turn red and lumpy like there was a sudden invisible mosquito attack. I leave a message at the women’s center to call us back. She says maybe she’s just allergic to the cold. I’ve never heard of such a thing.
When the hospital never calls back, she looks it up online. She is just allergic to the cold. She sits in bed until the rash goes away.
Her body is her body and then it’s not.
This week, we spent 20 hours watching a Korean drama about a girl who is really a kind of ghost, a nine-tailed fox that is said to seduce men and eat their livers. The show reeks of symbolism. The boy and girl/fox fall in love but have to overcome her otherness, their differences, a budding fear of death.
Do you love me, is the question at the beginning; by the end it’s, How much do you love me?
The writing is lazy, but somehow I can’t stop watching. I can’t stop wondering how much they love each other, even when I know. In the show, a half-human believes love cannot be entrusted to humans, as if it is too big for a human, or too unwieldy. He seems confounded that they can feel all they feel.
—Photo by KevinSpencer/Flickr