Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The marriage bed


During our engagement, I couldn't wait to have him by my side every night. I imagined our bodies gracefully intertwined, holding each other tightly yet comfortably as we slept deeply all night long. Above our brand new ivory colored 600 thread count sheets my tanned arms would show a peek of one of the many beautiful pieces of lingerie my girlfriends had bestowed upon me at my bachelorette party. Probably on the 23rd of every month I would wear my demure yet irresistible white wedding night nightie to celebrate yet one more month of conjugal bliss.

We were married November 23. During our honeymoon and the 33 nights to follow, I took joy in selecting each night's silky nightie. It was all I dreamed it would be, and more.

On December 26, I decided that before I drugged myself into oblivion with Theraflu to combat my nausea and headache, I had better take a test on the off chance that those negligees - probably the leopard print one - had led to a pregnancy.

My little bout with the flu will be seven years old this August.

With gestation came instant insomnia. Suddenly the previously cozy double bed we shared was an homage to my nightly misery. I tossed and turned, begging God to give me some sleep before I was asked to teach second graders the next day.

At bedtime, we would lie as spoons while his big hand cradled my womb. For about two minutes. Until the torture from the coarse hairs on his chest poking and scratching the skin on my back and the ridiculously heavy weight of his arm caused me to roll away - as far away as I could get in our shrinking double bed.

After the thirty seconds had passed that it took him to fall asleep - a skill that made me incredibly envious - the snoring began. First I would shudder hard enough that the bed would shake a bit. A pause...I'd lie in hope. Then a nudge. Nudge harder. Kick his leg. Kick his leg harder. Shove his shoulder and whisper accusingly ROLL OVER! You're SNORING!! In his half sleep, he always managed to give me a dirty look before complying. Until he snored again.

And once, I was startled awake in the middle of the night by a piercing noise. My heart racing, I feared I had heard a gunshot. There was no gun. There was only my husband. Still sleeping as his "gunshot" filled the air.

The many silky negligees slept on rose scented drawer liners as my previously flat tummy grew, and grew, and grew. But his soft white undershirts with the yellow pit stains were oh so comfortable over my maternity underwear.

In March we moved to a new home. Before we moved, we went shopping for our new marriage bed. The biggest bed you have, please. King size. So we can pretend our beloved is not even there, thank you.

The baby was born. And then another, and another, and another. I had sworn no child would ever sleep in our marriage bed. Four newborns have slept in our marriage bed. As have four sick, napping, segregated, or scared-of-thunderstorms children.

Last week my groom and I made our king sized bed and burst out laughing at the huge postpartum stain, at the stubborn remnants of a coffee spill, at the two year old's ballpoint pen artistry on our old ivory colored 600 thread count sheets.

This morning I lay in bed with him while the white noise machine hummed in the background. I wore a demure yet irresistible neon orange VBS t-shirt with a bleach stain on the front and underwear my mom bought me at the dollar store. The effects of four pregnancies means I sleep on a heating pad, barricaded by a pillow between my knees and a pillow to support my ever aching back. I wear earplugs now to block the snores. He rolled over, the face I know so well now toward me. I expertly arranged another pillow to block the flow of his morning breath.

He reached out blindly, found my hand, and placed his own over mine, then gently yet firmly squeezed my fingers as the new morning dawned and eight little feet began to scurry round our marriage bed.

I squeezed back. And thanked God for giving me more than I ever dreamed of.

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