Fourteen years ago, during the first thirty days of her pregnancy, my Lovely Wife had reason to believe she might be in for a smooth ride. She woke in the morning feeling well and maintained a normal appetite throughout each day.
It would seem Our Daughter's prenatal interests did not include instilling the kind of nausea, hunger, hot sweats, chills, mood swings and homicidal tendencies we'd been warned were the potential side effects of the typical, healthy pregnancy.
Then, at the end of that first month, the turkey incident unfolded.
The turkey breast, rubbed down liberally with our signature combination of herbs and spices, went into the oven while my Lovely Wife rested in the bedroom. Our house at the time being relatively small, it wasn't long before the gamey aroma of roasting fowl hung heavy in every room. I opened the oven door to baste the half-baked bird when I heard a weak voice calling me.
The overwhelming smell of the turkey had somehow jump-started the morning sickness my Lovely Wife had so far been able to avoid. With a skin tone matching that of the uncooked bird, she informed me of the need to remove both the turkey and its scent from the house with an urgent alacrity. I must confess, I momentarily struggled with the idea of chucking a perfectly good meal in the trash, but I quickly came to my senses.
Within minutes, the roasting pan was sitting out on the back porch and every window in the house was opened, ceiling fans drawing in the fresh, frigid winter air. I tried spraying Lysol to help cover the offending odor, but it only added to the nauseating mixture. The upchuck bucket -- a small, spare plastic trash can -- made it's debut that evening. It didn't leave our presence for four solid months.
It took us a few weeks to settle into a mealtime routine. Dinner options were limitless, providing dinner had no detectable aroma. All meals were eaten at home, since eating out would mean being within unreasonable proximity of a functioning kitchen in which heat was being applied to one ingredient or another.
We eventually found the one meal her stomach and nasal passages could handle: chicken tenders and French fries from Golden Corral, both smothered in the melted cheese from the potato bar. The checkout girl at our local Golden Corral could spot me from a mile away. Before I could open my mouth, she had my take-out order rung up. As a show of moral support, my staple meal became steak & fried shrimp with French fries. I even applied a generous covering of the melted cheese sauce to prove how much I loved her.
Just because we'd discovered an acceptable staple meal, however, did not mean my Lovely Wife's stomach suddenly stabilized. If Tums antacid tablets were habit forming, then my Lovely Wife would have been a hardcore addict. Deposits in the upchuck bucket were as prolific as they were predictable. I consider my time spent cleaning that bucket amazingly appropriate preparation for the diaper changing that would come.
But one day -- when the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week morning sickness had an exceptionally tight grip on her -- my Lovely Wife handed over the upchuck bucket and I recoiled in shock. There, in the bucket, was an assortment of pastel colors, each color separated from the others like some delicate frothy pousse cafe. In retrospect, it really was exceptionally pretty, as upchuck goes.
Unnerved and confused, I searched for just the right words to express my loving concern.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
After a few minutes, we realized the picturesque layers in the bucket were caused by the various colors of the Tums tablets she had taken leading up to her latest deposit. We laughed until it was time for her to throw up yet again.
I've cleaned up my share of bodily fluids since then, but never anything quite so artistically expressive.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler