November 2020 - Toronto
It’s during the fourth speech of the evening that Tessa realises she’s made a grave error. They shouldn’t have accepted the invitation to tonight’s Leaf’s fundraiser. It was overly ambitious and she’s counting the minutes until they can leave.
She momentarily closes her eyes and dreams about slipping into her PJs and slippers. She can’t wait to snuggle against Morgan’s chest as they watch the late night news. She wills time to move faster.
It does not work.
Beside her Morgan is fussing. With his cutlery. With his tie. With his wine glass. With her patience.
‘Can you please stop, it’s not helping,’ she implores through a frozen smile. He stills his hands, inhales through his nose and gives her a beautiful but wholly fake smile. It’s good enough to convince everyone else in the room he’s having a spectacular time. It serves its purpose and makes her laugh under her breath.
‘I’m trying my best. This is completely torturous. I’m worried about you,’ he responds with a closed fist in front of his mouth, pretending to clear his throat. ‘But on a positive note, your ability to talk through your smile is as impressive as ever’.
He gives her thigh an affectionate rub then squeezes her knee. She’s grateful that their table is positioned against a wall and covered in a floor length tablecloth. Of course she’s got no issue with Morgan caressing her leg, it’s more that she feels the eyes of three hundred fellow guests scrutinising their every move, and she doesn’t want to give anything away.
‘It’s a completely underrated ice dance skill,’ she speaks normally. ‘It was also really good for pissing off The French in the lead up to the Olympics,’ she reverts back to speaking with her lips together.
Morgan does that gorgeous soft chuckle that makes her stomach flip. God, she loves to make him laugh.
‘What are the chances this trait is genetic? Are our kids are going to be talented ventriloquists?’ he deadpans from behind his napkin.
She can’t help herself, she laughs out loud and presses her left hand over his where it’s sitting next to his wine glass. She can feel the eyes of a woman in a cerise dress, sitting at the next table, slowly cataloging their interaction. The woman takes a long, hard look at her engagement ring. Then she sees the woman’s eyes track to her wine glass and take a note that it’s half filled. She says a silent thanks to Morgan for employing this decoy. The woman doesn’t notice the dry ginger ale sitting aside Morgan’s wine glass.
Morgan leans in to her ear and whispers, ‘Only thirty more minutes and we can head home so you can resume your usual position of head down over the toilet bowl’.
‘You say the absolute sweetest things to me,’ she smiles.
‘I will even continue holding your hair back from your face while you vomit,’ he continues to speak into her ear. ‘I’m a real renaissance guy’.
‘Our life is so glamorous. Aren’t you glad you’re stuck with me?’ she teases.
Morgan looks up and across the room surveying all the people buzzing with alcohol and conversation. He turns in his chair, his body now facing hers. He gives her a grin, it’s a flawless combination of sincere and handsome, then he cups her face and kisses her under her eye. He knows that people are watching but he doesn’t care. And neither does she. She just melts into his touch.
‘Being stuck with you is the best damn part of my life,’ he states slowly, ‘don’t ever think otherwise’.
‘Mine too,’ she winks.
It’s the complete catastrophe when they get home later that night. As Morgan is unlocking their front door the nausea builds to a crescendo and she has to push past him to run into the powder room. She doesn’t even make it to the toilet, she throws up into the hand basin, a slick of vomit running across the faucet, one of the taps and her hand.
‘Holy fuck,’ she groans.
‘Hey?’ Morgan hesitantly asks from the doorway. ‘What can I do?’
‘Just back away slowly. This is one of those times where I’d prefer you didn’t see me’.
‘Baby, you’ve thrown up in our bed,’ he inches towards her and turns on the non-vomity tap, checking that the water is warm before guiding her hands underneath, ‘we are way beyond me backing away slowly’.
She rests her tired, sad head against the bathroom mirror, ‘This whole morning sickness thing is very unpleasant. And I agree with all those pregnant women who whinged that it was misnamed. It is not just a morning thing’.
‘Yeah? I think we should call it like it is. A clusterfuck. You’re almost twelve weeks, fingers crossed you’ll turn the corner soon’. Morgan rubs between her shoulder blades before placing a gentle kiss on her neck and passing her a hand towel.
‘Would you mind getting me a bottle of water?’
‘Yeah, ‘course. Do you want to try some of the anti-nausea tablets Dr Bridge prescribed you?’ he calls over his shoulder as leaves the bathroom and walks towards the kitchen.
She meets him just as he’s closing the fridge door. He has a bottle of water in one hand and some antibacterial wipes and a disposable glove in the other. She pulls a sad face when she sees the cleaning supplies.
‘No sad face needed. I’m not bothered about cleaning up,’ he says handing over the water. ‘You sure you don’t want those tablets?’
She’s so thankful for him. He really has become a master vomit cleaner.
‘I’d prefer not to take any unnecessary medication while I’m pregnant,’ she responds before taking a long pull of water. She wants the absolute best for this little life she’s baking on their behalf. Even if the tablets are perfectly safe she still doesn’t want them.
‘At this point, I think we’re going to disagree about what’s ‘necessary’’. He moves close and kisses her forehead. ‘Man, I love you TJ but you really need a shower’.
She laughs at his honesty and her life circumstances. What else can she do? She smiles at him, then shrugs before displaying a pretend media face and says ‘Morgan and I are so thrilled to be starting a family together. It’s everything we ever dreamed off. I’ve been so lucky because I haven’t felt sick at all,’ she dramatically places her hand to her chest. ‘I’ve just sailed through the first three months. It’s been ah-maz-ing. Just as amazing as all the sex we USED to have. That’s right we haven’t fucked for three weeks. Hashtag blessed. Hashtag glowing. Hashtag new life ’.
‘Get in the shower, you adorable idiot,’ he laughs, walking off to clean her vomit from the powder room.
He’s a keeper.
She didn’t realise she had vomit in her hair, no wonder Morgan wanted her to have a shower. Honestly, he was right when he said this pregnancy gig is a clusterfuck.
But it’s also incredible. They made a life. Together. She wants this baby so desperately. And she had no idea she wanted a baby before that little plus sign appeared. She wanted a puppy.
She steps into the shower and watches a glob of vomit disappear down the drain.
‘Holy shit. So gross,’ she mutters.
She gives her hair a good scrub before there’s a knock at the bathroom door. ‘Come in,’ she calls.
‘You need anything?’ Morgan’s head pops around the frosted shower screen.
‘Maybe for you to stop knocking on the bathroom door?’ she shrugs. ‘You have seen me naked. A lot. You’ve seen me with a vaginal ultrasound probe stuck inside me. And as you reminded me, you’ve seen me vomit on almost every surface of this apartment. Including myself. I think the time of knocking when I’m showering is long passed’.
‘I just don’t want to interrupt you if you’re enjoying some peace and quiet,’ he hands her a towel as she turns off the water.
‘I will kick you out if the bathroom if I need peace and quiet. I promise,’ she stands on her tippy toes and smooches his jaw.
‘You smell better,’ he smirks, ‘I know you’re doing it tough. I’m sorry to I can’t do more to help’.
‘It’s for a good cause. The best cause. And it’ll pass. You’re doing everything right. I promise that too’.
She finishes drying off and slips into her fluffy pink robe. Before she ties the robe closed Morgan spins her around so they’re both looking in the mirror. He’s standing behind her, his chin resting on her shoulder. ‘Let’s me see, is there any sign of our little trouble-maker yet?’
‘I enjoy this weekly ritual,’ she swoons, loving every inch of his big heart and kid-like enthusiasm over their baby, ‘but i think you’re going to be disappointed again’.
‘I’ll be the judge of that,’ he kisses her shoulder. She spins to the side and drawers back her robe. The both take a long look at her profile. Her belly is completely flat.
‘Nothing yet,’ he concedes. ‘But your boobs are...’ he gives a chef’s kiss.
‘I can’t disagree. It’s a pity they’re not seeing any action,’ she wiggles her nose in disgust. She wraps herself snuggly into the robe and starts to leave the bathroom but Morgan gently takes her hand and softly give it a tug.
‘Hey, I don’t wanna hear you talk like that. The only one worried about sex, or the lack of, is you. That’s the second crack you’ve made about it in the past half an hour’.
She knows he’s right. But she adores sex with Morgan. Adores how good it makes her feel. Being close to him like that? She misses it. It’s so frustrating. In those first few weeks of pregnancy she couldn’t get enough sex. Now it’s the last thing on her mind. The nausea is all encompassing. She misses making him feel good, showing him how much she loves him. So she tells him all this while they settle into bed and cue the late night news.
‘I miss it too,’ he grins. ‘But good things come to those that wait. Let’s get you back to your old self first’.
Morgan wraps her up in his arms and tells her he loves her. She knows. But she’ll never tire of hearing him say it.
‘OK, time for our other weekly ritual, what’s tonight’s pick?’ he prompts.
‘Jason. I ban Jason. All Jasons are assholes’.
‘I went to school with a Jason. You’re right. He was an asshole’.
‘And you. What name is on your ‘no go’ list this week?’ she rests her head on his chest and he leans down to kiss her hair. It’s an involuntary reaction he has each time she cuddles into him this way.
‘Shirley,’ he states firmly. Her head flies up and she twists in his arms.
‘What? That’s your Mom’s name. We love your Mom. Not even for a middle name?’
‘Maybe a middle name. Definitely not a first name. Too old fashioned’.
She ponders the name Shirley for a minute. ‘My favourites are still Heather and Caleb,’ she hums. She’s getting sleepy. Vomiting for sixteen hours a day is exhausting.
‘I know we have 28 weeks to go, but that still isn’t enough time to persuade me that Caleb is a good choice,’ Morgan replies while he plays with her fingers.
‘We’ll see,’ she smiles.
‘Indeed we will,’ he smiles back.