“We did it, Rain. We made it.” Ella told me. I took her hand. It was a heartfelt gesture. We had just brought home Alice, our daughter after three days in the hospital. The last seven months were a living hell for both of us. I never thought we would make it, I’m sure Ella didn’t think we would either.
Seven months ago I was still on the sofa. My back was killing me, and what’s worse was that my son decided that he didn’t like his crib. He was up every night at three a.m. It was hell. Ella slept on our comfortable bed, in our room. After she found out she was expecting, she blamed me for everything that was wrong. I found myself, most nights, on the sofa.
What’s worse, was that I was so sleep deprived I found myself stumbling over Travis’ toys. “Dammit!” I screamed as I tripped over his fire truck and stubbed my big toe. “Stupid freaking fire truck!” I kicked the truck across the room. It didn’t help my toe much, but made me feel a whole lot better.
I was in no mood to care for Travis, all I wanted was some sleep. All he wanted was playtime with his father. “You are suppose to sleep Trav!” I yelled. He just went for my face. I reluctantly gave in to his play, and took him in my arms and out to the kitchen. I figured I might as well feed him since he was awake.
“Now eat!” I yelled to my little toddler. He wanted to play with his food. I wanted him to be done so I could go back to the sofa. I wanted sleep, I wanted to wake up in the morning and not feel like crap for once. I also wanted my wife to actually acknowledge my existence.
The only time she did acknowledge my existence was when I was doing something wrong. After feeding Travis, I’d let him sit there, screaming, till I ate my own breakfast. Ella would, of course, get tired of his relentless screams and come out to fetch him. “God, David, you could let him out!” She would yell at me.
“Well, I’m kinda eating El, so he can wait.” I snipped back. Ella and I were hardly ever on speaking terms in the beginning of the pregnancy.
She, of course, would cuddle our crying son and make me out to be the bad guy. “It’s okay Trav, daddy’s just being a jerk.” She would tell him. I tried my best to ignore her.
The only thing was, I hoped that even with our arguments and our snippy remarks, that it didn’t affect our son. He was picking up things at an alarming rate, and I didn’t want him to pick up that his parents weren’t the happiest of people. I loved Ella, but together we were a train wreck just waiting to happen.
Of course not everything was horrible. I was very excited that we were expecting a new life in our family. Ella did come around, eventually. She made sure that I was around every time the baby kicked. She loved that I was there for her, for the baby. Yet, we both knew that the only thing that was keeping us from killing each other were the kids.
The other great thing that came out of the last few months was that I was able to afford a sprinkler system. It cut my labor in half. I didn’t have to worry about watering the plants and trees everyday. I just weeded and harvested. Ella was also thrilled that my whole day wasn’t spent on just the garden out back. She knew that meant she could go out to the bars and play while I actually took care of our son.
Ella was the greatest mom, I do have to give her that much credit. While I worked on the garden, she was teaching our son how to walk. “Rain, you’re missing it!” She screamed when Travis took his very first steps. I regret not watching, but Ella and I had just fought and I wasn’t interested. I was fighting all the urges I had for a drink while I weeded the garden.
Even though I missed his first steps, at least I got to be there when he said his first word, “Dada.” I was sitting there playing with him and he looked up and went, “dada.” I couldn’t believe it. He continued to repeat the word, and my eyes misted with tears. Every time he said “dada” my smile widen.
“That’s right, I’m your dada.” I told him and ruffled his hair.
When Ella found out about his first word, she was not pleased. I was out in the kitchen early in the morning and she went to get our screaming little boy. I remembered her giving me the narrowed eyes and the pursed lips. She wanted to sleep in, but I allowed Travis, yet again, to wake her lazy ass up. When she went to pick him up, he called her “dada.”
“Were you ever going to tell me that he can talk?” She asked angrily when she walked in. I just grinned. “David?” She called out. I wasn’t in the mood to fight over our son’s first word.
“So, he said dada? What’s wrong with dada?” I asked her, not looking up. I just knew her eyes were drilling a hole in me. “He’ll eventually call you mommy, and then we’ll both be happy.”
“Well, it would have been nice to know that my son spoke his first word, regardless as to what it was.” She spat back. “I at least had the decency to tell you that your son took his first step, even if you didn’t want to watch.”
Ouch. She did have me. I shrugged her off and plated my food. I didn’t want to fight. I hated fighting with Ella.
We constantly fought. It was a daily occurrence. She would get mad at me for some reason and then go off. I would try and defend what ever she was saying, which made her even more mad at me. Part of me knew it was the hormones, and that this pregnancy was a lot harder on her than the last.
I also loved her hormones sometimes. Every once in a while she would give me a small peck on the lips to show me she still loved me. Sometimes it was a hug. She even once apologized for her treating me as badly as she was. I knew that it was mostly her hormones working against her anger, but I didn’t care. On these occasions she was my Ella, the one I fell in love with.
She still made me go to her gigs despite how much I didn’t want to. We never talked in the car. Both our eyes were on the road. She wanted me there though, if not to hear them play, but to keep our son out of trouble. She would however stop me from leaving the car when we would pull up to the bar and look directly at me. “Okay Dave, now remember no drinking.”
“I know El. I’m not an idiot.” I would spat back to her. Most nights I needed the reminder, she and I both knew that. I wanted a drink, I wanted to drown out the hateful feelings I had towards her.
The only reason I went to these gigs was because Travis loves to see his mommy play. I have never seen a tike like him. He can dance and though he can hardly talk, he will start singing in gibberish to the tunes. One time Jimmy even brought him on stage and gave him the mike. The crowd all “aww’d” when he sang, and the band kept with his tune. I just stood there and smiled. At least my son was having a good time.
On most nights though my wife was at work alone. I would keep watch over Travis at home, while her and her band played at the local watering hole. Shonda only hired them to play. They were a weekly sensation. I’m just hoping she only kept to her drums, especially since we were having a hard time back home.
As the months dwindled down into days till her due date, I could feel the strain in our relationship. We both could. Neither of us wanted to be in the same room with each other. I would rather be outside with my crops, and she would rather be with Travis or her band.
The morning that Ella was due to deliver, I was out at the bookstore. I had to get away, we had a fight just that morning. I went in to buy one thing, a cookbook. I had to make things right, I needed to make things right. I planned on making dinner for Ella, her favorite too, ratatouille.
When I arrived home I found Ella trying to teach Travis to say “mama.”
“He’s not going to say it, just because you want him to El.” I laughed. My son looked over at me and called out “dada.”
Ella wasn’t amused. She narrowed her eyes at me. “He will say mama!” She yelled at me.
Travis looked back at both of us. By now he was picking up on our tension. I just hoped he didn’t think it was his fault, I never want him to think that of himself.
Seeing the tension, Travis picked up on what Ella wanted him to say, because a minute later he looked at Ella and said “mama.” She screamed for joy and both Travis and I laughed at her happiness. I was happy to see her smile, and I was hoping that when she came for dinner, she would smile the same way towards me.
I was excited when I made Ella’s favorite dish. It was something new for me to cook and I wanted it to come out perfectly for her. She could smell something baking while she took Travis to bed. She even hollered at me, “What’s cookin’?” I smiled. I wasn’t about to ruin my surprise for her.
“Nothin’. Just the same ol’ food. Come sit!” I called out.
When I placed the plate in front of her, her mouth went wide with a grin. “Is this what I think it is?” She asked.
“Yup. Ratatouille, your favorite.” I told her with a smile. “I hope I got the recipe right. I don’t know how your mother made it, but I still hope you enjoy it.” Ella’s mother was a chef and this dish was Ella’s favorite dish that she made.
Ella took one bite and groaned in a way I hadn’t heard in about nine months. I just smiled at her. “Well, I guess you like it then?” I joked.
She looked at me and smiled a bigger grin, “This is the most amazing dish you have ever made Rain.” She answered, then she groaned again and melted in her chair as she took another bite. As long as she was enjoying it, I was happy. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile at her happiness. This was exactly what I wanted from her.
After washing up the dishes I turned to face my beloved, and looked at her smile. She was smiling at me for once, and it was the smile I had been dying to see from her face. “That was nice Rain, thank you.”
“Anything for you.” I flirted. I wanted some, badly. “I’m glad you enjoyed my cooking.”
“I think both of us enjoyed it.” She patted her belly.
I bent down and touched her belly as well. I could feel the baby moved. “Is that right, did you like daddy’s cooking?” I asked my unborn child. I didn’t expect to get an answer, but I did anyway. A gush of water came from under Ella’s dress.
Of course I was the blubbering idiot who freaked out, again. Ella just looked down and walked to the bedroom. “Where the hell are you going El?” I screamed.
“Getting my bags and dressed for the hospital? You gonna come or are you just going to stand there and scream?”
I looked at her and followed her into the bedroom at a running pace. I threw on a shirt and a pair of pants and ran out the door. Ella stopped though in the doorway and looked at Travis. “We need a babysitter!” She screamed, and then she wailed as the first contraction hit. CRAP!
I stood with her until the contraction passed, and the next thing I know she was on her phone. She made a call, told the receiving end we needed a babysitter, and then she was hanging up. “Who was that?” I asked.
“Jim, he’s sending his boy. He’s fifteen and I told him we would pay Mark if he stayed with Travis.”
Wait, what? Jimmy has a son? I thought, but knew that now was not the time to discuss this. We were having a baby!
Jimmy’s son, Mark, was at our place in record time. Well, not really since I found out during the car ride he lived two houses down with his mother. He was at our place in five minutes wearing his sweatpants. I was putting Ella in the car when he walked up, “Don’t worry man, I’ll take care of the little guy.” I handed him a twenty and ran to the driver side. Ella was in the passenger seat screaming in pain.
As I walked in the hospital I stopped and stood there. The nurses were rushing Ella into the delivery room, but I just stood at the door. I looked at my wife and hoped that this would save us. That this moment, this child was what we needed to save our relationship. I loved Ella, but living with her was another thing all together.
Time would tell if little Alice would be our savior. I loved Ella, and I always will. Ella looked at me with our hands locked and just smiled. “I love you Rain.” It was the first time in over nine months since I had heard those three words, and my heart felt the meaning.
“I love you too, Ella.”