Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Week(s) (02/10/11)
TITLE: The Unstoppable Ripple
By Theresa Santy
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
“Go ahead,” it mocks; “have your glass of wine.”
I have several.
The next morning I feel sick, but it’s not same sour stomach I usually get with a hangover so I take the test again. This time there’s a plus sign, glimmering. I can’t believe it but my Doc confirms, “Yep, you’re pregnant.”
Two weeks later I’m spotting. Doc takes an ultrasound and finds nothing. No sign of anything growing anywhere. Doc offers a procedure to clean everything out so I won’t have to go through the trauma of letting it happen naturally. I hesitate. But I saw the screen. There was nothing there, so I concede.
The next week I follow up with Doc. The pregnancy hormone count in my blood has gone up. The increase is miniscule, not indicative of any viable growth, but the HCG level should not have gone up at all. It should have gone down. Doc worries about an abnormal cell growth in a dangerous place, like my tubes. He wants to shoot me with a powerful drug to destroy whatever it is. I take the shot. I mourn the loss of the abnormal growth.
I get pregnant again. Doc checks for a heartbeat at six weeks. There isn’t one. We wait and see. I lose the baby at eight weeks.
I get pregnant again. There’s a heartbeat. We listen to the breathtaking rhythm. We tell everyone. I lose the baby at ten weeks.
I drink much.
And weep often.
After one or two they say, “Happens all the time.” I lose three and suddenly I’m a habitual aborter. That’s the term they use, as if it’s intentional. Cross-state specialists, blood tests, scans and surgeries, and finally a diagnosis: Antiphospholipid Syndrome. My immune system is programmed to fight off pregnancies as if they were the vilest sort of contaminant.
Doc recommends daily aspirin. Doesn’t work. I lose this one at nine weeks.
“We’ll try Heparin,” says Doc. “There are risks, but this works for seventy percent of patients with your disorder.”
“Disorder,” he says.
Six weeks into the next pregnancy I begin taking the Heparin. I’m sent to the hospital for my scan the next week. They apply a wand scanner, one not used on the surface of my belly, but one used uh, elsewhere. It’s a learning hospital, so there’s a pack of interns standing at my raised feet. It’s humiliating, but I can see the heartbeat, so I don’t care. Then Mr. Expert Hospital Doctor says,
“Development doesn’t look right. Probably not viable.”
The room feels cold.
At eleven weeks I lose the baby.
“Next time, you’ll take the medicine from conception,” says Doc.
I’m monitored closely. My husband and I are told exactly when to make this next baby. On the same day I begin self-injected medication.
I’m pregnant again. This will be the last time, I tell myself. No matter what happens, I can’t do this anymore. A heartbeat shows up at the appropriate time. Baby looks great. I don’t mind all the bruising from the shots. I visit the doctor every week. We tell no one.
At twelve weeks I’m driving home from the doctor’s office. I’m still pregnant and I’m singing obnoxiously out of tune, with the car radio, with Johnny Nash.
At fourteen weeks I’m still pregnant. We tell everyone.
During the entire third trimester I visit the hospital twice a week for non-stress tests, which are so, very, stressful. The baby never moves. They always have to shock him awake so they can run their tests. He always passes the test.
At thirty-eight weeks I still talk like I’m keeping my expectations low.
“You better snap out of it,” yells the nurse. “You are going to have this baby.”
At forty weeks I have the baby. Prayers of hundreds—perhaps thousands—have been answered. Prayers for a blessing. For a non-believer.
The baby is darling, perfect in every way. I can’t take my eyes off him. We stare at each other, radiating off each other, practically glowing. I’m overwhelmed by gratitude. The moment is lovely like a butterfly flittering, causing little ripples.
The ripples become waves driven by divine gravity, swelling and expanding toward eternity, unceasing, eventually reaching their destination, pounding at the shore of my testimony.
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