When I went in for my final ultrasound at Cornell, my doctor said he’d pulled his back out. To avoid bending over, he raised the examining table about four feet in the air, and then kept saying, “Move down. Closer. One more time. Once more. Once again.”
“Forget it,” I finally said. “If I fall off the table from this height, I’m going to break a limb.”
As he inserted the ultrasound wand, I felt nostalgic. This would be my last examination at Cornell. I was graduating. I could hear Pomp and Circumstance in my head, perhaps making me the first person to hear that song with an ultrasound wand sticking out of their uterus.
“I haven’t spotted in a week,” I told my doctor. “What are my chances of miscarrying now?”
The last time I visited him, he said my chances of losing the baby at this point would have been around 7%, but because I was still spotting, my probability was a little higher.
“You’re down to 7%,” he said. “The baby is growing nicely. It looks exactly as it should.”
I looked at the ultrasound screen.
“It looks like a girl,” I said.
I thought I could detect a little flip hairdo, like Patty Duke, or like Sally, the little sister on “Davy and Goliath,” a Christian television program with claymation characters that me and my Jewish siblings would watch on Sunday mornings.
“Could be,” he said. “You have a 50% chance of being right.”
When the ultrasound was finished, I put on my clothes and walked out into the hallway, stopping at the water fountain to get a drink. This is the last cup of water I’ll ever have at Cornell, I thought. It reminded me of the painful nostalgia I would have when I was young just before each birthday. This is the last hot dog I’ll ever have when I’m 11 years old, I would lament. This is the last time I’ll eat ice cream at age 12. I’ll never be 13 in this house in 1976 again, I cried.
When I got out on the street, I looked back at Cornell’s glass building and heard my grandmother’s inimitable voice, as she followed our car out of the parking lot on one of my many childhood trips to her apartment in Miami Beach. “Bye! So long. Thanks for the good time.”