Early on, when this pregnancy was just 2 pink lines on a stick and I was feeling fine, both my husband and I read that morning sickness was a sign of a healthy pregnancy. "It usually kicks in at about 6 weeks," the books said. So for the next two weeks we found ourselves sort of cautiously alert to any signs of this mysterious sickness that would prove we were making a real baby.
I thought I knew what to expect. I had seen enough movies. I knew morning sickness meant running from a meeting to throw up suddenly in a bathroom stall. I felt prepared. I had a jumbo box of saltines at the ready, a sleeve of which sat dutifully on my bedside table.
But we were not near my bedside table when it first began to happen. We were in Brooklyn, visiting my sister, and my husband and I had gone out to try some fancy fried chicken place in their neighborhood. It was one of those homestyle places, high on the "authenticity" of grease. I took one look at the menu and urgently I felt like all I wanted was something cold. I wanted a meal of cucumber slices and watercress. I wanted cool rice salad with parsley. I wanted pictascio ice cream. But this was the fancy fried chicken place, I felt like I had to be game.
My chicken sandwich came and I stared at it. Fried batter crumbs covered my plate, winking in grease. There was no part of me that wanted to bring it to my mouth. I took my first bite. I chewed. Everything was wrong. I shouldn't be eating this, I thought. I CAN'T be eating this.
What was happening to me? I chewed through as much of the horrible fried meat as I could before covering it with my grease wet napkin and whispering to my husband, "We need to leave."
We paid as quickly as we could and walked back through my sister's bustling neighborhood. Every other woman pushed a stroller, toddlers carefully navigated sidewalk cracks while their mothers walked slowly behind. A woman passed us sharing the gory details of her 'birth story' with her fascinated friend. A wave of acidy, gurgly misery washed over me. I turned to my husband, "I think... I have... morning sickness."
He couldn't help himself. He squeezed my shoulders. He started grinning.
"Why are you smiling?" I demanded, the queasiness engulfing me.
"I'm sorry sweetie, I know you feel bad, it's just..." he was beaming. "It's just, that means you're really growing a baby in there. Our baby."