My husband snored beside me as I lay on my back, waves of nausea rolling over me. I attempted to close my eyes and breathe deeply, wait the sensation out and go back to sleep, but my Little Goldfish wasn’t having it. At the twelve-week ultrasound the week before we’d caught a glimpse of our daughter, dancing on the screen with joy and had nicknamed her the Little Goldfish. It had taken us 10 months to get pregnant, and I had begun fearing that one of us was infertile when it finally happened.
Within a few days of that joyful day when I peed on a stick and saw the two lines, I had began experiencing extreme and exhausting morning sickness. This was six years before Kate Middleton, the Duchess of York, was pregnant with her first child and her medical condition hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness hit the news headline. I was told by professionals and the public alike that it would pass. That morning sickness would abate as my first trimester ended, but it didn’t.
Giving up on sleeping I rolled to my side and gently poked my feet from under the covers and settled them on the floor, attempting to keep my husband from waking. As I gently pushed up, the nausea spiked, and I ran, heavy-footed to the toilet, barely making it as I leaned over and vomited. A few minutes later I exited the bathroom and found my husband standing in the bedroom doorway.
Giving up on sleeping I rolled to my side and gently poked my feet from under the covers and settled them on the floor, attempting to keep my husband from waking.
“Go back to bed,” I said, my throat raspy and sore. He worked full time and needed his sleep, while I was part time and had the day off the following day.
“Are you coming?” he asked.
I shook my head, and entered the room to collect warm clothes. It was June in Melbourne and freezing. “I have to eat.”
He yawned, looking down the hallway. “Maybe I should sleep in the spare bedroom,” he said. “You’re going to wake me up when you return after eating.”
“Sure, that’s a good idea.” I kissed his cheek.
My husband and I thought that we would sleep separately until the morning sickness stopped, but it never did. After the first trimester it settled and I vomited twice a day, including the day I gave birth. This was the last night that my husband and I shared a bed, and in the twelve years since we have each had our own bedroom. While at first this was a practical decision because of the demands of breastfeeding after I gave birth, even when our daughter was weaned we continued.
In the 11 years that we were married before I fell pregnant we had always been strange bedfellows.
In the 11 years that we were married before I fell pregnant we had always been strange bedfellows. Our temperatures fluctuated wildly and he ran hot, while I ran cold. He sweated like a tap in the heat, and there was one memorable night when he attempted to hug me during a heatwave and I threw off his wet arm while shouting like a wildebeest. He snored when lying on his back and I had developed a move whereby I turned on my side, using the movement to elbow him hard as I could, which alleviated my frustration and made him turn on his side. And then there was my insomnia, which tormented me at the witching hour of 3am, making me feel like ants were dancing on my skin if I lay too long in bed fighting it, and many a night I ended up sleeping on the couch for a few brief hours in the morning. Not to mention our two-hour bladders that were out of sync and so I woke him, just when he had fallen asleep, and vice versa.
Sleeping separately required some adjustment within our marriage. I used to love our late night talking sessions where we debriefed about our day. Sometimes we stayed up until the early hours of the morning and then relied on caffeine to get us through the workday the next day. Now we had to ensure we connected during the day time and took the opportunity during mealtimes or over morning coffees and afternoon tea to talk and debrief.
I used to love our late night talking sessions where we debriefed about our day. Sometimes we stayed up until the early hours of the morning and then relied on caffeine to get us through the workday the next day.
Our sex life thrived though. We had never been much for intercourse under the cover of night, instead we much preferred the daytime when we were energetic and frisky. Intimacy was now a seduction again, rather than a presumption, and we’ve now clocked up 23 years of marriage and the spark burns bright.
And now when insomnia visits I can turn on the light and read until sleep comes, while listening to my husband’s snoring from down the hall in my own master bedroom, with an ensuite and walk-in-wardrobe. My husband has the smaller bedroom and a single bed, and we both agree, I’m worth it.
Amra Pajalic is a high school teacher and author of memoir Things Nobody Knows But Me. You can visit her websitehere.