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Hollow

(Some may not want to read this, as it’ll end up being kind of depressing, but I’ve found that too much I write for everyone else and not enough for me. So, here it is. For me.)

For a while, things hadn’t been right with me. I felt weird – sick, moody. I hurt, all over – and I slept. A lot.

I took a pregnancy test, then two. Negative.

Days went by, a couple of weeks.

I called my gynecologist, the office who’d seen me through two pregnancies, and to whom I felt comfortable spilling my concerns. I told them what I was feeling, what was going on. That my periods were off, inopportune. That I felt…sideways. The nurse asked a few questions, then said that I needed to come in on Monday the 14th. She said she was concerned about my cervix, and she mentioned a biopsy. I agreed and hung up, with what felt like the click of doom.

Biopsy.
Tests.

Cancer.

I knew I was jumping the gun, I knew I shouldn’t let my imagination get going – but I did. I imagined explaining to my kids why I felt bad, why I couldn’t play kickball. I imagined myself bald, mentally cataloguing headscarves and hats. Big earrings to show that I wasn’t ashamed. Trying to be fearless.

I was petrified.

Josh and I talked about everything it could mean – never having kids of our own, me being perpetually ill. The cost. The logistics. We tried to prepare.

Monday came, and Josh got stuck unavoidably at work. I was angry, I couldn’t help it. I knew it wasn’t his fault, but I was alone. I painted myself a mental image of being brave, being strong – and I tried to match it. I was scared.

I went.

All the paperwork later, the pee in a cup, the weight, the blood pressure and such, and I sat in a room. I knew this room, I remembered it from being hugely pregnant. I remembered the patterns in the wallpaper – how I’d made faces out of them before in my mind. I waited for someone to come and tell me what to do.

The doctor came in. A new doctor, one who had joined the practice after Ava was born. I didn’t know him, I couldn’t read his face. He shook my hand, and sat on a stool across from me. He was kind, asking questions I’d already answered about birth control, my epilepsy, the pregnancy tests I’d taken.

And then he told me I was pregnant.

I stared at him for what had to be thirty seconds or more. The mixture of emotions hit me like a wall. Relief, shock, disbelief, confusion. Joy.

He went on and examined me, ordered some blood tests, and told me to come back Wednesday for more blood tests, so hormone levels could be compared. He emphasized the cautions that would be taken since I was still bleeding somewhat, but assured me that what I was experiencing was in the realm of totally normal.

I was in a fog.

I told Josh via handy BlackBerry messenger just exactly what I’d found out. In our fashion, we snipped and picked and worked through our shock together. Together we realized just exactly what was happening, and we got excited.

We shared our cautious happy news that evening with Josh’s mother and sister, both of whom laughed with glee and clapped and made me happy to be where I was.

That night we lay in bed, going over the events of the day, still realizing that this was real. We talked about names. Josh’s hand found my belly in his sleep that night, several times.

Tuesday morning I received a call from the doctor, telling me that my hormone levels were satisfactory and high enough for an ultrasound, and could I come later in the day?

I went. Josh went with me, this time. We were nervous and cautious going in, and looking at the speckled gray of the ultrasound screen, I knew something wasn’t right. There was a round circle, a sac that I’d seen before….but it was empty. There was nothing there. The sweet technician had plenty of explanations, optimism and “maybe this” scenarios.

We passed another night, shaky and uncertain. I was to go back to Tupelo on Wednesday for the definitive blood test – the one whose numbers, compared with the week’s earlier numbers, would tell us for sure whether this baby was developing as it should. The blood test that would, in essence, decide our fate.

Wednesday, still bleeding, I went for my appointment. Another exam. More blood. We were to hear the results in a few hours, so we stopped for a dinner.

On the way back, a cramp slowly grabbed my lower torso. I shifted in my seat, I pushed the cramps away with my mind. I refused to acknowledge them. Eventually I asked Josh to stop, which he did, at a Subway about 30 minutes from home.

At Subway the ending began.

I called the doctor and we headed back to Tupelo, to the women’s hospital, where they were waiting for me.

It all blends together after that…the blood, the cramps, everyone’s apologies. The doctor, telling me that the numbers I’d been waiting for had fallen instead of doubled, like we’d hoped. His kind face, the urgency with which he said I needed surgery to stop the bleeding. Needles. Anesthesia. An operating room. Waking with a stomach pump tube scraping its way up my throat. In my post operational fog I remember campaigning for Obama to my attending nurses.

I cried a lot. Poor Josh was so strong, so brave. It was his baby too, but the sympathy came to me.

My doctor saw me Thursday morning. He assured me that I would be fine, that my chances of a successful pregnancy next time would be just as good as anyone else’s.

I never knew I could love someone so much, someone I never met. I never knew I could mourn something I hadn’t even expected. I never knew, that even with two kids and a husband, I could still have so much love left to give.

When we once again have happy news, you’ll be the first to know. I promise.

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