On Week Sixteen of my pregnancy, my husband and I were in the Neonatal Unit of Hahnemann. We were guardedly optimistic to the point where we’d decided we would tell his daughter later that week at Christmas, and had even given the baby a name: Charlotte if it’s a girl, or David if it’s a boy. I’d figured this would be like the other ultrasounds that I’d been having regularly since conception, but it was Week Sixteen. It was a landmark.
I knew something was wrong when the technician wouldn’t tell us that everything was right. I saw the numbers: femurs in Week Fourteen range, lagging behind the body. It was not as stark a growth restriction as last time, and I tried not to let it get to me, but then she left the room to show the material to Dr. Wapner.
We sat in the darkened cubicle where the kid’s bottom was still on the monitor. A semi-circle of the light-weight curtain occasionally blew when people hurried by. I said to my husband, “I just hope he doesn’t bring the Death Nurse”. This was the nun-like woman who’d appeared with Dr. Wapner the day the blood-flow reversed with our first baby, Ella. We lost Ella two weeks later.
The technician returned to re-measure the femur, and some time after that Dr. Wapner himself came in. He articulated a few pleasantries, and scrunched up his face. “I’ll just say it.”
The growth was in the range of normal. What concerned him, really, was the blood flow. He wanted us back in two weeks. Then, he’d check growth and also get a more accurate Doppler reading.
Oh yeah. The Death Nurse was with him.
So where was I? I didn’t want to keep the ultrasound photos. That same afternoon, I said out loud, twice, “I guess if it doesn’t look good in two weeks, I’ll get an abortion.”