Monday, June 30, 2003

Maybe, baby

Let’s pretend you’re newly divorced with three young children, one of them not even crawling yet, the oldest not yet in kindergarten, a mortgage you can’t afford and a new job that is shaky, at best. Let’s also pretend that you have a devoted and devotion-worthy boyfriend who has been with you through the whole gory, bitter, strange and liberating dissolution of your marriage and your former life. Let’s say you’re in love and you’ve been in love since, in fact, the moment you laid eyes on him and he opened his mouth and started talking to you. Imagine that you, who had heretofore been something of a cynic about love, choosing not to believe in things like love at first sight and eternity and soulmate, suddenly found yourself reeling with the discovery that all of that had not just been made up to sell romance novels, but that the poets just maybe knew what they were talking about.

Now, let’s say, that on the eve of your appointment to go to Planned Parenthood and be outfitted with a shiny new IUD you happen to take a pregnancy test because you’re just a little uncertain of your status. For example, you may have been breastfeeding until recently, and not yet had your period, and so not been aware of your ovulation cycle. And maybe you were a little lax in using your birth control.

Imagine that the test shows you two little lines.

And so imagine you and your boyfriend spend the next two and a half weeks in a fog of uncertainty. The decision to be made is staggering and frightening, and neither option, no matter how many times around the gerbil wheel you go, seems right. The timing sucks. Your finances suck. Your body is still in recovery from the last baby. Your job is new. Your relationship is new. And yet, to say no to this life, this baby, this creation which you, in fact, made make it and then stop it...imagine that this feels wrong to you.

You call the clinic, get the necessary information. Let’s say that you are told it is early enough in your pregnancy that you would be eligible for RU-486. They explain to you that you will come in, take a pee test, have an ultrasound, get lab work. You will be “counseled.” And then a doctor will give you a pill which will cause the fetus to detach from the lining of the uterus, and send you home. Two days later you will insert a suppository at home, and this will cause your cervix to open and your uterus to contract, and you will bleed out. Just like a miscarriage. Imagine that you are stuck on the idea that someone will actually look at this baby, via ultrasound. And that you will have to walk around for two days with the knowledge of what is happening, before you can finish the procedure.

Let’s say you make the appointment anyway, because the only way to make a decision, you realize, is to keep walking down the path. Pretend that you pull into the driveway, past the man with the big abortion sign and the picture of the fetus, who shouts desperately at you and your boyfriend as you walk into the clinic. You sign the papers. You pee in a cup. And then, imagine, the technician takes you back to a room and has you lie down on a table. The ultrasound, of course, is facing away from you. But your boyfriend is offered a seat right in plain view of the thing. He is watching, the technician is watching. You are lying there, holding back tears while she presses the wand into your belly. Imagine that you ask, “can you see the sac?” And that she responds, gently, “Yes.” Let’s say that when the technician is done your boyfriend has questions, which leads to looking at the actual pictures, and you lay eyes for the first time on the image of a dark, peanut-shaped form, floating there in your womb. Pretend that stops your heart from beating.

Let’s say you are led to a room across the hall from the lab, and when the lab tech comes to fetch you for your blood tests, you ask her, “Could we have another five minutes please?” But really, in your heart, you already know. Pretend your boyfriend is saying in your ear, “Why not?” And in your heart, you are already saying “OK.”

Imagine you pay for the ultrasound, and leave. The guy at the end of the driveway is still there with his big abortion sign, but he doesn’t seem to care that you’re leaving. You’re still in a haze as you drive to pick up your kids from day care. On the way back is a lovely mix of sunshine and rain.

Imagine you see a rainbow.

If my calculations are correct, we’ll be having a new addition to the Big City right around Valentine’s Day, 2004. Brian has already taken to calling “him” by the name of “Rupert.” I say he gets named Rupert over my dead body. Wish us luck.

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