Ryan and I had been out to dinner with a bunch of friends after work. Childless friends. Of course, I loved them and still was one of them, really. And I was determined not to yap on and on about the pregnancy and our future baby; I was one of those people put to sleep by such inane babbling. I wanted to still be one of the gang.
I was so tired at night, I hadn’t been going out. And going to the bar, which was our usual destination, was completely unappealing. It was a long day, as another fairly common pregnancy symptom was fatigue. We met at a bar and grill, and I sipped my large glass of ice water as I watched my friends chug down their beers and cocktails. I felt the need to explain to the waitress that I was pregnant as I ordered my water. I was mostly okay with abstaining from booze, although I did still crave a nice cold beer when the weather was hot. It was mostly fun. Good food, good friends, good conversation for the most part. I had missed them. They politely asked about the fetus, and I kept my answers positive and short. The conversation meandered on to include future plans of camping trips, what shows were coming to the Twin Cities, and other adventures. I tried to keep a smile on my face. Who knew if I’d be up to it? Or after the baby came, who knew if I would be up for anything?
The evening started to drag on, and my eyelids were already becoming droopy. Ryan had drank a few Jack 7s and I was the designated driver. (And got to hear all the continuous jokes about him having a designated driver for nine months.) I didn’t want to be the one to end the evening, though. Typical pregnant wife; spoiling everyone’s good time. But 10:00 p.m. started to approach and I had to get up for work the next day. As did everyone. And normal Heather would have stayed out much later. Normal Heather wouldn’t have even noticed the clock. But I had been going to bed around 9:30 p.m. I gently nudged Ryan under the table with my foot and gave him a subtle look.
“What’s up?” he asked loudly.
I refrained from showing my exasperated look. Everyone was still engaged in their own conversations. I raised my eyebrows and shifted my eyes over to the Budweiser clock on the wall.
“You wanna go?”
A couple people turned toward us.
“Awww,” Annie howled, refilling her mug with the amber colored pitcher. “Don’t go yet!”
“Yeah! When was the last time we all hung out?” Michelle chimed in.
“I’m sorry guys,” I said. “I’m really tired. I’ve gotta get to bed.”
“One more hour! Then I’ll go, too. We can walk out together.”
I looked at Ryan. Say you’re tired, too, I tried to telepathically message him. He didn’t receive it. “Sorry, guys.”
A few more groans emitted from the group, and eventually we escaped. The night had grown chilly and I was only wearing a light fleece jacket. I shivered as I sat in the driver’s seat and waited for Ryan to finish his cigarette before getting in the car. I flipped through radio stations while watching his tiny poofs of smoke float by. Every station seemed to be running an annoying commercial simultaneously, so I left it on an NPR reporter commenting on the DFL presidential hopefuls: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. I tapped my fingers on the wheel and finally Ryan got in.
We drove silently listening to the radio. Ryan rolled down his window. He was always overly warm, and I was always chilly. He would always tell me to bundle up, and I would always tell him to take off his jacket. This conversation had gone on a million times before, usually ending in us laughing at the realization that the conversation had gone on a million times before. I stewed for a while and even made a shivery “brrrr” noise, trying to send a hint. His Jack 7s must have dulled his perception skills.
“Honey. Could you roll up your window?”
“I’m hotter than hell.”
“It’s not that much further.”
And then I burst into hysterical, uncontrollable sobbing.
“Jesus Christ!” he yelped. “What’s wrong? What is it?!”
I just sobbed like a toddler. My chest heaved up and down, and I gasped in between wails.
“Oh, my God! Pull over!” He rolled up his window, and cranked the heat up to the maximum and put the vents on high.
“I’m—(gasp)—fine!” I practically screamed. I continued to bawl.
“You can’t drive like this! Baby—what is it?” He was fully turned to me and rubbing my arm vigorously with one hand and my leg with the other.
“You don’t care about me!” I howled.
“What are you talking about? I love you!”
“No—you only care about yourself!”
“What the hell is going on?”
“I’m tired and cold!” I wailed, even though the heater had started blasting hot air on me. Much hotter than a mild autumn night called for. But I didn’t dare turn it down.
“We’re almost home, sweetie, and you can go right to bed.”
“You didn’t want to go! You would have stayed all night!”
“Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to leave?”
“I did!” I shrieked.
“I’m sorry, baby, I’m sorry,” he said and kept rubbing me, as if attending to someone having an epileptic seizure. “Are you sure you can drive?”
After we (safely, thank God) pulled into the driveway, I stood outside and cried. The tears had subsided into a normal human’s crying. Ryan rushed over and held me tight, muttering over and over that it was okay and that he was sorry. Then I realized I was now crying from embarrassment and shame.
“I’m sorry,” I blubbered into his jacket. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“Don’t be sorry. I’m a jerk,” he kissed my head.
“No you’re not. I’m a jerk.”
“All right, this is getting silly,” he said, like he was talking to a small child. “Let’s get you in bed.”
We walked to the door, me slumped into him like an invalid, and eventually I was cocooned up in bed and fast asleep on my tear-stained pillow. My first meltdown. Before I knew it, the alarm clock was going off.
“Morning!” I chirped happily as I leaned over and kissed Ryan’s shoulder. His eyes cracked open a millimeter.
“Are you okay?” he croaked.
Silence. “No reason.”
I made my way to the bathroom to heave.