Arthur awoke to the sound of his wife cursing bloody murder. He sighed. She had probably discovered that she wasn't allowed to drink coffee. But then he heard the retching.
Arthur tossed the covers off and jumped out of bed, running into their bathroom.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?"
He saw Joan leaning over the toilet, her hair in a messy ponytail. She turned around and groaned, leaning up against the cabinet. She was wearing a blue camisole and white pajama pants with blue polka dots.
"I hate morning sickness."
"Oh, honey, I'm sorry," Arthur reached his hand out to stroke her cheek and stopped when he saw a chunk of vomit in her hair. He grabbed a towel and wiped it away.
Joan groaned in frustration and curled up on the cold tile floor. "I do not want to get off of this floor. But I also hate it. Is that weird?"
Arthur chuckled. "I think that means that you're staying home from work today."
Joan sighed, cheek still pressed against the floor. "Fine by me. I like it down here."
Arthur laughed. "Oh, honey, I think you're delirious. Let me feel your forehead."
Sure enough, Joan had a fever. Arthur picked her up and carried her to bed, then put a clean towel on the nightstand and a garbage can beside the bed. He kissed her forehead and asked, "Do you need anything else?"
She shook her head. "No. Thank you, darling. I'm just going to float on these clouds.."
Arthur just smiled and shook his head, then called Joan's doctor to explain her symptoms, walking back into the bathroom to fill up a water bottle.
"Yes... she's delirious, and throwing up, which I know is normal… oh, okay. Can I pick that up? Great, thank you. Sleep and water, sounds good… alright, thank you. Bye."
"Joan, I called the doctor, and she said that you're most likely just having some funky mood swings, and she told me that there were some prenatal vitamins you should be taking that I can pick up from the pharmacy this afternoon." He handed his wife the water and she nodded.
"So, I'm going to go to work for a half-day, pick up those vitamins, and come home in the early afternoon. Your fever will likely break by the end of the day."
Joan closed her eyes and moved around a little. "You're such a good husband. Going to be a great daddy, too."
Arthur smiled and bent over to kiss her cheek. "I hope so, sweetheart. Get some rest, okay? And call me if you need anything at all."
"Alrighty," Joan whispered. Arthur started to get dressed, and fifteen minutes later, he was ready to leave and Joan was fast asleep.
Joan woke up a little before noon, leaned over the side of the bed, and threw up into the trashcan. She groaned and collapsed back against the pillows, feeling like shit. Her hands flew to her stomach. Her bump was not visible yet, but she caressed her stomach, whispering to the baby, "I love you, but I really wish you wouldn't make me so sick."
It was so odd to Joan that there was a tiny person growing inside of her, one that would someday have dreams, and fears, and heartache. She thought back on her childhood, of the things she still remembered.
She remembered being four-years-old and staring at her baby sister in her crib, sitting on her daddy's shoulders so that she could see over the railing. And in her mind she saw a seven-year-old version of herself, in pink pajamas, waking up her sisters so they could watch cartoons on Sunday mornings. When she was nine, she would sit on the closed toilet lid and Anabelle, who was only 2 years older than her, would braid her hair perfectly, humming softly. Melanie, the oldest of the girls, played piano, and Anabelle sang, so Joan would sit on the piano bench sometimes and watch in fascination as Melanie's delicate fingers slid over the keys to the tune of Anabelle's beautiful voice. On Thursday nights, their aunt Danielle would come over for dinner, and the girls would preform, as a family band of sorts. Melanie on the piano, Annabelle on vocals, Joan as the backup singer, and little Elizabeth as the dancer.
And then there was eleven-year-old Joan, getting her first kiss from Tommy Bruckheimer behind a tree at the park. Tommy took her to prom too, when she was fifteen. Her dress had been poufy and light pink and total overkill, but at the time, she loved it. She remembered being seventeen and running down the stairs when her father got home from work and yelling, "Daddy, Daddy, I got into Penn State!" Her parents had met there and Joan had been so excited when she received the letter, so proud. Her mother had made a cake and she had called her older sisters, Annabelle, who was at USC, and Melanie, who was studying abroad in London, and told them, and they had both been proud of her too. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, had made her a pretty bracelet with the words "Penn State" on it. She still had it in her jewelry box, which sat across the room from her on the dresser.
That jewelry box also held the locket Joan's grandma had given Joan a few years before she died, when Joan was twenty-three. If she had a daughter, Joan would give her daughter that locket. It amazed Joan what a new life in the world meant; it meant memories and family and the start of a new story.
It made Joan a little emotional thinking about it. She reached for a tissue to wipe a few little tears away from her face.
"Now, what's this?"
She looked at the bedroom doorway and saw Arthur, holding a brown paper bag and looking concerned. She smiled at him.
"Nothing, just a trip down memory lane."
"Ah." He sat down next to her on the bed and kissed her.
"Arthur, do you remember your first kiss?"
He grinned and nodded. "Yeah, I do. Sally Stevens, sixth grade. I took her to the movies and made a move when the credits started to roll."
Joan laughed, looking into her husband's bright blue eyes. He nudged her. "What about you?"
"Tommy Bruckheimer. I was eleven, and he asked if I want to shoot hoops at the park. I beat him mercilessly, I will have you know. Then, he lead me over to the trees and said he wanted to show me something – and then kissed me."
Arthur chuckled. "Smart guy." He stroked Joan's hair. "Why the question?"
"I was just thinking about my memories from childhood, the stuff that stuck out to me, that I still remember, like when my mom brought Elizabeth home from the hospital, or my first kiss… our child will have all those same memories, the things that define who they are and who they grow up to be. I just never thought about it before, you know?"
Arthur nodded. "It's the creation of a new life," he said, taking his wife's hand and placing it back on her stomach. Their two hands laid on top of the baby, fingers intertwined.
"Take it from me, our child will have a wonderful childhood. He or she has you."
"And you," Joan said, snuggling up next to him. "He or she has us."
"Indeed they do," Arthur whispered, kissing her hair. "Indeed they do."