Chapter 13. Yuri : First.
I could feel Jessica waking up beside me, how the mattress dipped at her every slow move. After a few times of finding my wife not in the bed after midnight, my body easily reacted even to her slightest motion. I kept my eyes shut, letting her went out of the bedroom undisturbed before sitting up and sighed.
It was hard to do anything about it because Jessica didn't even talk about what was currently disturbing her. She was all fine and positive at day, despite the trial and tribulations of first trimester pregnancy, but always had disturbed sleep at night.
It was time to put this to an end though. If I counted right, she had spent all five night of this week waking up gasping in the middle of night. She might always smiled up at me in the morning, but there was no mistaken the sign of sleepless night in her eyes.
When I got to the kitchen, I saw Jessica sitting at the dining table. She was crying, shoulders shook as she sobbed into her folded arms on the table.
I said nothing, pulling a chair and sat close to her side instead. One of my hand rubbed her back, the other rested on her shoulder. She clearly didn't expect me to be here, suddenly busy wiping off the fallen tears with the sleeve of her pajama top.
“So I'm not even allowed to see your tears now?” I hold her left hand, rubbing the wedding band on her ring finger with my thumb. “I thought we're husband and wife.”
“Sorry.” She tried to pull her hand away but I didn't let her. “Hormone.”
“Was hormone also the one that disturbed your sleep these days?”
She looked away.
“It's okay if you don't want to talk about it, Jess. At least don't try hiding it from me.” I rose up, kissing the crown of her head. I didn't want to prod, not tonight. She was the type of woman who run further the more you chase her anyway.
“I had nightmare.” She tugged at my hand when I was about to leave. “Our baby....”
I turned around, kneeling in front of her and rested a hand on her stomach. Seeing the fear in her eyes, I understood what the nightmare was about without even asking further. “It's just bad dream. Our baby is safe in here.”
“It felt so real, Yul. I was holding our baby and then storm came. I can't-” She looked up, sniffing back tears. “Anything could happen, Yul. I'm so scared. I've lost our baby before.”
“But we won't this time.” I rubbed her still-flat stomach gently. “I'll make sure of it.”
“How?” It was a challenging question I couldn't find the exact answer yet. But her eyes were so full of despair I forced myself to think fast.
“By not letting anything bothers you.” Gathering her hands in mine, I kissed her knuckles. “By making sure that I'm in the know of anything you feel, physically, mentally.”
She sat still, looking down at our joined hands.
"You know? If we first find the source to our pain, healing it will just be a matter of time." I stood up, walking for the stove and start boiling water in the kettle. “But for a start, let me make you and our little champ something to drink.”
Jessica wiped her eyes again, looking at me.
“What do you think? Will our strong baby appreciates hot choco with extra marshmallow at this hour?” I grinned down at my wife while setting two mugs on the counter.
“Just tea please.” She smiled, albeit wanly. But for the moment, it was all that I needed. “Chamomile.”
“Alright.” I swapped the mugs with two tea cups. “Two cups of chamomile tea will be served soon. Would Mrs. Kwon and baby Kwon love some saltine with it? And a movie too? I think I have two or three dvds that I haven't watched lying around somewhere in this house.”
The smile got wider.
I inwardly applauded myself.
“Please.... No! No!”
I had to use every ounce of power in me to sit still, to not launch myself forward and yank my wife off the blue sofa where she was lying and writhing. Sweats beaded on her forehead, her lips trembled, and her hands fisted tight on each side of her body.
She was under hypnosis. After a few try at therapy, her nightmare didn't go away. We agreed on a hypnotherapy shortly after I found her waking up screaming herself hoarse in our bed.
“Nooooo! My baby!”
Youngae, Jessica's therapist was calm though. She sat on her chair taking notes like Jessica's struggle was nothing. Every now and then, she would ask Jessica question that led my poor wife deeper into the nightmare.
At some points, I even had the thought of choking the therapist to stop her from hurting Jessica more. But this procedure was necessary. I kept reminding myself that without this hypnotherapy, Jessica wouldn't be able to share about her nightmare. I turned my head, looking away at the window that displayed the heavy rain outside while hoping that this session would end soon.
After a while, I heard Jessica's cry no more. I looked at her, glad to see how she seemed to breathe calmer as Youngae started to inject positive suggestions into her mind. Jessica's fingers uncurled on the couch and I had to restrain myself from holding her hand. I wasn't supposed to be in the room. I wasn't even allowed to make a sound for it might interrupt the session. But I had insisted on staying by my wife's side. I didn't want her to get through this alone.
“Jessica. You may wake up now.” The therapist gently rested her hand on Jessica's thigh. “Slowly, in the count of ten, one... two...”
I watched as my wife slowly opened her eyes, her eyelashes flutters as she sighed heavily. She gazed up at the ceiling for a moment before turning to look at me. Our eyes met and I tried my best to smile. With a nod from the therapist I came to sit by the edge of the couch, helping my wife sitting up then hugged her tight.
She sobbed in my arms and I knew a part of the burden weighing her frail shoulders had been lifted. There were probably a few more therapy needed for her to completely wipe out the nightmare. I was also fully aware that somewhere in the future we might have to undergo this situation again. Jessica was fragile at times, but I knew I want her in my life forever.
“It's okay now, baby. It's okay.” I rubbed her back, hearing Youngae leaving the room behind me. “I've got you. I love you.”
“Oh God. What is it that smells so strong, mom? The soup?””
“Codfish soup.” My mother-in-law answered as she slid the bowl further from Jessica's side of the table. We were having dinner at Jessica's parents' place. “Sorry, I forgot that you're oversensitive with smell at the moment.”
“It's okay mom. I'll just have the rice.”
“Here, baby. Have the japchaae too. ” I slid a plate to her side of the table which then immediately pushed back to my direction.
“Just the rice, Yul. With clear broth if any.”
“I'll heat it up for you.” Jessica's mother hurriedly got back to the kitchen.
“I really want to suggest you to eat more for your baby, Sooyeonnie. But at this point it's better if you eat whatever you can hold down rather than eat a lot but throwing it all up later.” My father-in-law spoke as he helped bringing more dishes to the table.
I hated to admit that Jessica still couldn't eat most kind of dishes without puking them out in a few seconds. She was ten weeks along, at the most crucial part of her pregnancy, and had to rely on pills to give extra nutrition for our baby. I didn't blame her though. She had tried her best. She would eat a small portion of rice with broth three times a day and forced herself to eat as much snack as she could hold down in between.
“I don't miss it at all. The nauseating weeks of early pregnancy.” Krystal grimaced from where she sat between her husband and her son. “It will pass unnie, fighting!”
“Hwaiting!” Jinki shouted from his chair, his small fist into the air. We all laughed at his antics.
Jinki giggled in my arms before I tossed him into Sehun's waiting arms. The boy seemed to enjoy being tossed around between the three men of this family while his grandmother gave a yelp of protest from time to time.
“Jinki, stop. You'll give grandma a heart attack.” My mother-in-law sat upright on the beach chair by the pool. “Yeobo, I warn you! Don't toss our grandson like he's a beach ball!”
Jessica's father just laughed and tossed Jinki to me.
“Yaaaay!” The boy screamed loud mid-air before I caught him in my arms.
“One last time, okay?” I hugged the boy tight to my chest. In a few months, I'd be holding my own child and I couldn't hardly wait to a lot of fun things with my little son or little daughter.
“Mow! Mow!” The boy jumped in my arms, making me laugh.
“One last time then we go to bed.” Sehun said sternly while stretching his arms out, ready to catch his son. “One two three-”
“Yuri Oppa!” Krystal came running from the living area. The horror in her eyes made me stopped myself from tossing Jinki but it was her next words that nearly gave me heart attack. “Unnie fell! Hurry!”
I watched as a male nurse and an orthopedist wrapped elasticated bandage around Jessica's left ankle. She squirmed a little when they fastened the bandage and I instantly tightened my hold of her hand.
“Are you sure we don't need to X-ray it or something?”
“I think it's fine. No fracture or badly torn ligaments detected.” The orthopedist smiled up at me. “Your wife should be able to walk normally in less than two weeks. I'll prescribe anti-inflammatory painkillers to relieve some of the pain.”
I helped Jessica up. She clutched at my shirt as I helped her walk on one foot to the chair in front of the orthopedist desk. Her eyes were blotchy due to the many tears she had shed while being transported to the hospital.
“Remember to avoid unnecessary pressure. No heat, alcohol, running and massage allowed until we meet again next week to check how far you're healing.”
“I'll keep her in bed.”
“You'd love that, wouldn't you?” The orthopedist winked at me while scribbling on his prescription book. “The joint needs to be used frequently though. To make sure it heals back to its normal position. Keep using your left foot to walk gently every now and then, Jessica. Make sure you do it on soft surface like a rug or Yoga mat.”
My mind already busy thinking of the the many surfaces in our house that needed be covered with thick rug for Jessica's comfort.
“Here try walking over here.” The orthopedist pointed at the carpeted floor by the examination table.
With my help, Jessica took a step on the flush carpet. She winced and I instinctively glared at the orthopedist who just grinned from his desk.
“It's fine, Yuri. Don't put all your weight on your ankle, Jessica. Try again.”
After two steps, Jessica gave up. I carried her back to the chair while suppressing a strong urge to punch the orthopedist in the face. What was the actual point of forcing Jessica to walk a few hours after she sprained her ankle anyway?
“Take four to five steps at once about two to three times a day, okay? Don't be afraid, the bandage will hold your ankle in place. Use crutches if you need to walk far.” The orthopedist handed me the prescription. “If you feel like changing the bandage, give us a call but if you're not, see you guys later next week.”
Outside, Jessica's family waited for us with a wheelchair ready. I transferred my wife gently to the chair and Krystal immediately bent down to hug her sister. “I'm sorry, Unnie. I shouldn't have let Jinki's toys scattered all over the floor.”
“It's okay, Soojungie. I'm fine. The baby is fine.”
Jessica seemed calm but I knew better than the facade she put upfront. She had sobbed hard while YoonA examined her an hour ago. The scare of losing our baby followed us everywhere. Even small accident like tripping over a toy train like this had nearly driven us crazy.
YoonA had convinced us that everything was fine though. She even had willingly done an ultrasound per my request to let us see that our precious baby had been doing fine in Jessica's womb.
“Let's go home, Soojungie.” My father-in-law patted her younger daughter on the back. “Your unnie needs plenty of resting time.”
“Yul....can I go home to my parents' place instead?” Jessica looked up at me.
“Of course, baby.” I kissed her forehead, ready to push the wheelchair forward. “We can do with more people taking care of you and our baby.”
“Yuri....,” I heard someone knocked the door. “Is Sooyeon still asleep?” My other-in-law stuck her head into the bedroom.
I nodded, looking up from the laptop on my lap to see my wife who was fast asleep beside me on the bed. Her arm was slung possessively over my waist while her bandaged foot was resting on top of my leg over the blanket.
“Can we talk for a moment?
I nodded again, setting the laptop on the bedside table before gently moved Jessica arm and foot from my body. I made sure her foot was safely supported by stack of pillows before getting out of the bedroom.
“Your father-in-law called. We are invited for dinner in town by one of his work partner. Will it be okay if I leave you guys alone?”
“Of course it will be okay.” I smiled down at her. The house was quiet because Krystal and her family had left for LA yesterday. It had been a week since I decided to move here temporarily. With my never ending workload at the office, it was best to have Jessica close to her parents. That way, there was always someone watching over her.
“The invitation came so suddenly. I haven't got the time to prepare any meal for you and Sooyeon.” Jessica's mother walked to the kitchen while fixing her necklace and I followed her. “There are broth and kimchi in the fridge. Many fresh fruits and vegetables. Also pork, chicken, prawns and-”
“Mom. It's okay.” I held my mother-in-law on the shoulders. “Jessica doesn't really eat much anyway. And I already had meals at a meeting this afternoon. Go, Dad is probably waiting for you already.”
“The broth, Sooyeon likes it salty. Put in half a teaspoon of salt while you heat it. And the rice, make sure you put one and three quarter cup of water for a cup of rice. Multigrain rice that Sooyeon likes so much is in a box on the left cabinet.”
I gave her a salutation for an answer. She smiled, adding a few more details to her explanation as I led her to her car.
After she left, I came back to the kitchen. Ready for war. I was never really good in the kitchen. But cooking rice and heating broth up couldn't be that hard right? I rolled the sleeve of my shirt, sighing as I opened the door of the fridge.
It was unexpectedly hard to work in unfamiliar kitchen and it unbelievably hot too. At one point, I took off my shirt to minimize sweating, chastising myself for trying to be creative. Aside from cooking rice and heating broth, I tried my luck at cooking a pot of kimchiguk based on the recipe from the internet.
“Someone is busy.” I felt hands of soft skin and gentle touch wrapped around my midriff. Stopping myself from chopping the tofu, I turned my head to greet Jessica's soft lips with mine. There was something about deep-kissing my wife that made my heart filled with joy, be it happened in the kitchen, outside in the open, in the bedroom, or in the car.
“Where are your crutches?” I inquired when I didn't see the items with her.
“In the bedroom. The orthopedist told me to stop using them, remember? I'm 99% healed.” She pouted.
“Yeah? Sit down.” I pulled a chair so she could sit at the counter. “I'm not letting the 1% chance taking my wife's ability to dance with me.”
She smirked, leaning over to inspect the bowl of heated broth on the counter. “Ah... my dear broth. Thank you, baby.”
“And multigrain rice too. Such a great husband I am.” I dumped the chopped tofu into the boiling soup before scooping rice from the cooker to two bowls. When I tried to pick up my shirt from the back of the chair, she stopped me.
“Leave it, hot chef. I like seeing you in nothing but summer shorts and apron.” Her foot inched up my leg. Her smile inviting.
“Jess, no teasing.” I warned her, turning to check my kimchiguk. I had sworn to myself not to have my way with my wife until I'm sure that won't harm her pregnancy. If it meant I had to wait up to the day my baby is born then be it.
“No fun. Is that kimchiguk?”
“Yep.” I poured the soup to a bigger bowl and put it a little further from my wife. “Can you stand the smell?”
“It actually smells enticing. Bring it over here.”
Bringing the bowl closer to her, I grimaced at the sight of my first creation of kimchiguk. The pork and the tofu were all chopped in different sizes. “I hope it doesn't taste as bad as it looks.”
She takes a spoon of the thick soup, waiting a moment for it to cool down before slurping the liquid in.
“Almost too salty. Extra spicy too. But I like it.”
“Yeah. I think I'll have it with my rice. Chopsticks, Masterchef Korea.”
I grinned. This was probably the first time in six weeks that she actually ate rice with anything other than clear broth. I hugged her from behind, resting my chin on her shoulder while caressing her belly. “Eat a lot, Jess.”
She smiled, giving me a quick peck on the cheek before turning her attention back to the food.
My chest almost burst at the sight of my wife eagerly putting a chunk of pork into . I kissed the top of her head, silently confessing how much I love her. Inside, I prayed that this was the end of her eating trouble. That this was the sign of our child growing strong inside of her.
“So good.” She tilted her head back to look up at me, breaking her own rule of not talking with food in . Her hands went over her head in a gesture that was currently trending among the youth. “Hot appa, saranghae.”
“Beautiful eomma, saranghae.” I laughed, copying her gesture.
__ tbc __
Author's note : Thank you for reading. See you later. ^^