The day is filled with worry, angst, fear, unknowns. Searching the internet yields more questions, as if that’s possible. A slim, soft-covered book had found its way home with us from Dr. Bates’s office. It lies on the table, untouched. Pastel flowers and decorative font dance on the cover, whimsically. The ghastly stories inside are sure to be anything but. Uneasiness and curiosity fuse as I frequently gaze at it. With every stolen glance, the book pleads with me Open me! Read me! I can help you! After several hours of playing coy, I snatch the book, and hold it on my lap. How bad can this be? I haltingly bare the first page, then the next, and the next. The stories are miserable, short, personal letters. Other families, other babies, other horrifying losses.
I flick my phone on, then off, then on again. Six o’clock. In between phone lightings, I survey the room; I look at my watch, and the DVD player’s clock. I have already resigned to the fact that she may not call. Keenly aware the genetic counselor said she would call today with preliminary test results, my phone has uncharacteristically becomes a new appendage. If I miss this call, we will have to objectionably wait the entire weekend for some answers. Any answers. With each minute that slips away, my confidence abates.
I attend to a new sound. Sudden twinkling of notes. Sudden vibrations against the solid wood table. As the phone rings, the welcome diversional tone is borderline gratifying. Throwing the book back down, I’m sure I am done with it. It is of no comfort. The brazen book knows better. It will be obsessed over, providing empty, yet craved, connections. Fingers trembling, I scramble to touch the green button. Deliberately, I pull the phone to my ear.
“Hi, this is Jaime from Aurora Medical Center Maternal Fetal Medicine. Is this Laura?” I affirm her suspicion. “I want to let you know about some of the test results I just got back.” She sounds eager, and relieved to have a reason to call me tonight. Suddenly, I don’t feel like the we are the only ones who care about this test. I underestimated her ability to empathize. “Remember, these results are only for Trisomy 13 and 18, as well as Down Syndrome. They came back normal, meaning there are no abnormalities with the chromosomes associated with these disorders.”
My eyes widen, my head tilts curiously. I sit up just a bit straighter. Normal? What is she saying? My baby is normal? My pounding heart shakes my fragile ribs. My thoughts become redundant, what does this mean? what does this mean? I fight back a smile.
Twenty-four hours ago, our baby almost definitely had Trisomy 18. Or Trisomy 13. Or to a lesser degree, Down Syndrome. Now, the label “Trisomy 18” bursts. The label “Trisomy 13” dissipates. The label “Down Syndrome” vanishes. The air around me warms, comforts, soothes. I sink into relief, cautious yet pleased. Jaime is quick to know what her words have done. She is resolved to put my guard back up.
“Now, just because these results came back normal doesn’t mean there isn’t still something serious happening. Your baby still has a lethal condition that could be explained by the other chromosomes that we will have to wait on. This just means the condition isn’t one of the three most common conditions.”
My heart plummets. My eyes droop. My shoulders slump. The peaking highs and devastating lows are habitual. The truth sinks in. Nothing has changed.
I agree with minimal utterance, “Okay. I understand,” and with eager questions, “So, how long until we know the rest of the results? Are you sure nothing can be done?” Momentarily, I hope. I’m reluctant to give that up. “We will have to wait two more weeks for the remainder of the results,” Jaime states robotically, releasing her empathetic tone. “Laura, if we find something, it will be consistent with the findings from yesterday.”
Two weeks. Eternity. My hand rests lightly on my stomach. Baby girl, we will wait this out for you. I will not give up on you.
“How have you been feeling today?” The casual question pathetically attempts to negate the damaging news she bestowed just a minute earlier.
“I’m doing OK. I am a little tired, but no pain. Thanks for asking.” I do not feel thankful.
“Well, if there is anything we can do, feel free to call us. You have my card with the number to my office, as well as my cell phone. Over the weekend, if you think of any questions, feel free to call me and leave a message. I’ll call again as soon as I get the rest of the results in. Until then, all we can do is sit tight and wait. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers you and Jason are looking for.” I hope she is right, but I don’t believe her.