Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

The examining rooms at our pediatrician’s office are painted with murals of aquatic scenes. One room has a big sandy beach in the foreground and a sliver of where the ocean meets the sky in the background.  Another has a surfer riding a huge wave. The third has a big tank filled with brightly colored fish, seahorses, corral and crabs. We were most familiar with that one because that’s the room with the scale they kept using to weigh our baby, and they weigh him quite a bit – about three times a week. The nurses like to use the same scale for every weight check to make sure they’re comparing apples with apples.

The Fish Tank Room

Our pediatrician thought the baby wasn’t gaining weight fast enough so she had us supplementing the breastfeeding by giving him a bottle of formula after every time I nursed. She then had us coming in to her office two to three times a week to have the baby weighed. He was now gaining more than an ounce a day — more than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.

Pleased with our progress, I decided to try to slowly wean the baby off the bottle. Instead of giving him formula after every breastfeeding, I gave it to him after every other feeding. But two days later, when we were back at the pediatrician’s office, the baby’s weight appeared to have stabilized — a phenomenon that, given the tiny increments we were measuring, could have been the result of a dirty diaper the last time he was weighed. Still, our pediatrician said if the baby didn’t gain weight faster, she might have to consider him a case of “Failure to Thrive,” and he would have to be hospitalized. I was sure she had the Department of Youth and Family Services on speed dial.

I don’t know who came up with the term “Failure to Thrive,” but it should be reserved for situations like a baby bird withering away, its little heart beating perceptibly through paper thin skin before it expires. It should not be thrown at two college-educated yuppies, who have access to a grocery store, a credit card, and a scale.

Glug, glug, glug

Or so I told myself. The reality was, I feared I might accidentally starve our child. I’d struggled with the breastfeeding from the beginning. But lately, things seemed to be going better, so I was chomping at the bit to get rid of the formula. I knew the longer we gave the baby bottles, the more likely it was that we’d never be able to get rid of them. I figured the baby would get tired of having to work for his food by sucking it through my leathery old nipple rather than getting it through a bottle, where I can actually hear the glug, glug, glug as the milk pours down his throat. Who could compete with that?

I also feared that the more we supplemented, the more likely it was that my milk supply would fall. That’s because breast milk is produced according to demand: the less demand, the less produced.

I theorized that if I skipped the bottle after every other feeding, the baby would be hungrier at the breast for the next feeding and thus get more milk out of it. He was never going to have a voracious appetite for breastfeeding if we kept giving him bottles of formula. I knew the baby’s weight might stabilize, temporarily, as it took time for him to realize the only game in town was my breast. It was a leap of faith, like when someone leaves a job to start a business and has a temporary dip in income as their business ramps up, or how a heavily pruned tree might look barren for a season before it comes back with even more blooms. But our pediatrician was monitoring his weight so closely, it made my plan impossible to execute.

“I don’t think you have enough breast milk,” she said. I tried not to cry, but I could feel my lip quivering. “I didn’t want to say that, but I think that’s what the problem is,” she said.

“But I sometimes pump as much as 1.5 ounces,” I told her. I felt like a child bragging about how many sit-ups I can do.

She asked me if I could feel it when my milk let down? I said I couldn’t. She asked if my breasts sometimes felt taught if I went for a long time without a feeding? I said they didn’t.

I was frustrated. I have large breasts. Always have. And yet I couldn’t seem to produce enough milk. I felt like a well endowed man who can’t rise to the occasion. Interestingly, when I would talk about the issue to women with smaller breasts, instead of comforting me, they seemed compelled to tell me how their milk would shoot out by just looking at their child.

“I’d get into the shower and as soon as the warm water would hit me, the milk would run down my stomach,” one said.

“I’d blow through three shirts a day because I had so much, it would just leak out,” said another.

The day before, I’d called one of the lactation nurses from the hospital at which our baby was born to see if she had any advice.

“Some lucky women have so much milk, they just produce bottle after bottle when they pump. And then some try and try and can’t make it work,” she said. “Just try to enjoy your baby,” she said. I took that last sentence to mean she didn’t think my future in breastfeeding was bright.

We left the pediatrician’s office, and by the time we got to the car, I told Bruce I didn’t want to go back to supplementing after every feeding.

“Why do we have to listen to her? Because his weight dipped one day? Scales aren’t exact. I’ve overeaten for days and not gained any weight, and then a week later, the scale will say I gained three pounds in one day!” I said. “Why is she in our business, anyway? Why are we weighing the baby so much? It’s like he’s a fucking wrestler trying to make weight.”

The baby is too fat, the baby is too thin

I was angry, but the truth was, the pediatrician had me so worried about the baby’s weight, I bought a $100 scale for our home. I feared that in my zeal to breastfeed, I might inadvertently starve our child. Every time we would reduce the amount of formula we gave him, I thought I could see the ribs above his belly, his face would look bone thin, even anemic. But then every time she would force us to increase the amount of formula we gave him, his cheeks would suddenly look swollen like a chipmunk’s, his belly would blow up like a blow fish. Even his hands would look fat.

I felt so guilty every time he cried, I assumed it was because he was hungry. I forgot babies sometimes cry for other reasons.

And yet despite my fears, I didn’t want to go back to giving the baby a bottle after every feeding. We were making progress in reducing his reliance on formula and bottles. I didn’t want to go backwards just because of one bad weight day. I had no intention of watching our baby wither away as I tried to get the breastfeeding right, but I wanted a little wiggle room.

Our pediatrician was going on a ski trip to Vail for 10 days. I suggested to Bruce that we continue to only give the baby a bottle every other feeding, at least until the weekend. If the baby didn’t gain weight by then, we’d still have time to fatten him up with formula before she got back from vacation. Bruce reluctantly went along with it.

The baby did gain weight – though perhaps not at the hefty rate the pediatrician sought – and so we continued to supplement every other feeding. I felt good about our progress, until the pediatrician returned from her trip, and we were scheduled to go back to her office to have the baby weighed. I knew if she saw the baby hadn’t gained at least an ounce a day, she was going to wonder why, and we were going to have to explain why we didn’t follow her instructions.

“Let’s lie, and tell her we’re giving the baby a bottle after every feeding,” I said, and paused. “But only if she asks. If she doesn’t ask, then we don’t say anything.”

“I don’t want to lie to her,” Bruce said. “We shouldn’t be lying to our medical doctor. If we’re going to do that, we should find another doctor.”

If I wanted to lie, I had to do all the talking, he said.

As we pulled into her office parking lot, I said, “Fine. I won’t lie.”

We decided to tell her what we wanted to do: supplement after every other feeding instead of after every feeding.

“How about if we try it your way for the weekend,” the doctor conceded.

“I don’t think that will be enough time,” I said.

“Okay, let’s go until next Wednesday,” she said. “And then you come back, and we’ll weigh him.”

I agreed. It sounded like a fair compromise – though by the time I got to the car, I felt like a dog that marches into his owner’s house to demand his leash be removed only to come out with one that was a little bit longer.

Did the baby's indented chin affect his latch?

It was a Pyrrhic victory. The baby was indeed hungrier being given fewer bottles, but it didn’t help him get any more milk out of my breasts. I was starting to wonder whether the problem wasn’t inadequate milk supply but rather that he wasn’t sucking properly. I couldn’t understand why my breasts felt heavy with milk, and every time I squeezed my nipples, milk would come out, yet he would suck and suck, and at the end of every feeding, he still seemed hungry. I would stare at his throat to see if he was swallowing anything. I would put my ear to his mouth to see if I could hear gulps, like the ones he made when he sucked on the bottle. I tried massaging my breasts, even compressing them – advice I’d found after scouring the internet for advice – and yet he always seemed to come off my breast hungry.

He was also getting stronger and becoming a hindrance to the process. Given the choice between my hand, his own hand, and my nipple, he’d start sucking first on my hand, then his own, before finding my nipple. And when I’d try to latch him on exactly as I was taught at the hospital, he’d get his hands in the way, or instead of making him latch onto the nipple and some areola – as I was taught to do in the hospital – he would latch on and then push himself backwards away from me, so he’d end up with just the nipple in his mouth, rendering the latch ineffective. Sometimes he’d be really hungry and wanting to breastfeed, yet as I moved my breast closer to his mouth, he’d push it away. There’s a life lesson in there: I want this thing so badly, and that is why I will do everything in my power to stop myself from getting it.

Unknown woman breastfeeding child

Occasionally, it would work. He’d get near my breast and pounce, and for a few precious moments, I could feel him getting milk. His little hands would hold my breast like a big balloon (when they’re filled with milk, they’re bigger than his head. My father once took a photo of me standing at the base of a blimp. The size differential between his head and my breast is similar).

But mostly, we struggled. I started to feel like a fraud every time I put on the special nursing bra. I felt like I was donning the accoutrement of the breastfeeding population, and yet I had no right. My baby wasn’t really breastfeeding.

As I tried desperately to make the breastfeeding work, a part of me was slowly trying to get used to the idea that my baby would have to be raised on formula, almost the way a terminally ill patient will try to reconcile the fact that they’re going to die. Obviously, the stakes are higher with terminal illness, but there’s a similar process, of denial, then anger and tears, and then the quiet submission.

I started looking at children and wondering whether or not they were breastfed. Not just real children. I was watching a television commercial the other day for a pharmaceutical product called Reclast, and I wondered if the young boy in the ad was raised on breast milk or formula. I wondered if formula babies were as happy. The funny thing about formula is that people who are smart enough to understand the benefits of breastfeeding and yet raise their kids on formula will always start the conversation with how smart their kids are, despite having been formula-fed. I’ve begun to look forward to a time when he’s on solid food, and this whole breastfeeding saga is behind me.

When we got home from the pediatrician, our neighbor, Judy, and a friend of hers dropped by with a nurse from the neo-natal nursery at a nearby hospital. I was in the bathroom when they arrived, but I heard Judy open the door and yell, “Caren?”

“I’m in the bathroom,” I yelled back.

“Caren?” she said again, obviously not hearing me.

“I’m in the bathroom!” I yelled, hastily pulling up my pants. I quickly flushed the toilet and ran out into the living room to find the nurse had taken the baby, who was sleeping, out of his bassinet and was rocking him in her arms.

“What are you doing?” I said. “We have a no-touching policy.”  It was all I could think to say. I was stunned that a complete stranger had walked into my house and lifted my sleeping baby out of his bassinet.

“A no-touching policy?” she said, looking at me as she continued to hold my child.

“We don’t let anyone touch the baby, except for immediate family,” I said. Our pediatrician had suggested the policy for the first eight weeks, to prevent him from getting sick.

“Why?” she said, continuing to rock my baby as I plead my case.

“Germs,” I said.

“I work in a nursery. I touch other peoples’ babies all day long,” she said, finally handing me back my child.

I don’t know why I didn’t throw them out of my house. Instead, I asked them if they wanted tea, and we all sat down in my living room. Sometimes I do that. When what I want to do is light someone on fire, I instead will ask them if they want tea.

Judy had brought the women over to see if I had any questions about caring for a newborn. I had so many questions about breastfeeding, I decided to make use of having a nurse at my disposal. I fired away: How often should I feed the baby? How long should each feeding be? If I’m supposed to feed him according to demand, how do I know when to stop? He doesn’t give me any indication he’s done, I said.

“I just fed him for an hour, and the only reason I stopped is because, well, I was done. I felt like he could go on until we both died,” I said.

The Three Fates of Formula

“Well, maybe he’s not getting enough from you,” the nurse said.

She asked me to give her a bottle of formula, with 1.5 oz. She said if he’s full, he’ll push it away.

“He’ll do that?  You’re sticking a bottle in his mouth, and pouring this stuff down his throat. How can he stop it?”

“He can stop it. He’ll push it away with his hand. I’ll show you.” she said.

She gave him the bottle, and I watched with bated breath, hoping he would push it away. He didn’t. Instead, he began to suck, and suck, and suck. As I watched the level of formula go down in the bottle, I hoped his hand would come up to say he didn’t want any more, but it never did.

“He’s still hungry,” she said.

She asked for another bottle. I reluctantly gave it to her. The baby once again failed to push the bottle away and instead began to drink, and drink, and drink. I watched the level of formula go down and down in the bottle, again wanting him to stop, but he didn’t. It broke my heart

“He grabbed that one like a barracuda,” Judy said. I wanted to punch her.

“He’s a hungry little fellow,” the nurse said.

“But I don’t get it. He’s gaining weight. And the doctor said if he’s only getting 12 ounces a day from the formula, and he’s gaining weight, then he must be getting the rest from me, “ I said. I was trying to convince this woman that I indeed had breast milk.

“You may have milk, but he may not be sucking strong enough,” she said.

“But when I massage my breast while I’m feeding him, I can hear the milk squirt,” I said.

“Yeah, you’re squirting it into his stomach like a water gun,” she said.

She asked for a third bottle with some formula, and I gave it to her. She stuck it in the baby’s mouth, and I watched his eyes start to glaze over.

“He’s tired,” I said. “You should stop.”

“He’s still drinking it,” Judy said.

I wished these three women had never come into my house. They looked like the three fates from Macbeth, sitting there on my couch.

“No, really. He’s getting tired. Look at his eyes,”

At the end of the third bottle, the nurse finally said, “He is looking a bit tired now. He’s still awake, but he’s drinking slowly now. Can you see that?”

Fuck, yeah. I could see his drinking had slowed when he was on the second bottle. I wanted them to leave.

When they finally did, I cried. And then I pumped a whopping 2.5 ounces.

Let Them Eat Cake

I later found out that giving a baby bottle after bottle of formula is not how to determine how much one should feed him. Babies, like beagles, can eat well beyond what they need.

I also found out that women with large breasts are not likely to feel full or engorged, and they may never feel their milk let down.

A few weeks ago, a friend, quoting some mommy book she’d read, said to me, “Just do the best you can. Remember that at the end of the first year, no matter what, your baby will be eating birthday cake!”

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January 15, 2011 Caren

This is a guest blog post from Bruce Holmes:

"I can't talk now...."

I knew it was Caren as soon as I heard someone run by. Wearing high tops and a sweater with her bulbous belly popping through, she looked like a turtle — a very fast turtle — as she banked off the turn from the toy and game aisles to one of the main aisles of the store. I had been lingering in the cribs and baby carriages section, not ready to start Christmas shopping in earnest, when she flew by. She was running hard.  I am not sure if I shouted, “Hey!” but she spotted me. She fixed me with a stare, only to communicate that she saw me and she was not going to slow down.

“This is not what Dr. Gonzalez had in mind when he said your placenta previa shouldn’t stop you from going for walks…,” I thought. What I really wanted to say was, “What the f..  are you doing?”  By the time I caught up with her on the other side of the store, she was locked in conversation with an older eastern European woman in a store apron. The woman was saying she had indeed seen Caren’s brown wallet, which we’d left in the shopping cart we abandoned in the Christmas decorations aisle.  Olga pulled out her radio and called to Tyrek, who was already headed to customer service with Caren’s wallet.

As we walked to retrieve it, I tried to find the words to convey that a lost wallet was not worth racing through a store of waxed floors when you are seven months pregnant, but I remembered her determined stare and let it go.  Taking it easy is not in Caren’s repertoire.

Will the real placenta previa please stand up?

We were advised Caren had placenta previa at our second ultrasound with Dr. Gonzalez, an ultrasound specialist. Placenta previa is a condition of pregnancy in which the placenta sits vulnerably close to the cervix. He said back when he was in medical school, the treatment for such a condition was to require women to spend the remainder of their pregnancies on bed rest. But he said he was still hopeful Caren’s placenta might migrate off her cervix as her uterus grew. He did clear Caren to go walking on the boardwalk, which Caren liked hearing more than the earlier advice she received from her obstetrician, who’d said Caren should refrain from exercising altogether. Both doctors warned us to be cautious and look out for excessive bleeding.

This isn't so hard

I’m sure ‘cautious’ didn’t include pushing a half ton pickup truck full of plumber’s equipment up a small incline, something she and I did earlier that same afternoon. Our friend Bob’s truck had died on the Garden State Parkway the night before, and we drove him up to the rest stop where he had left it. The plan was to have Caren sit in the driver’s seat and jumpstart the truck by releasing the clutch with the truck in gear, as Bob and I pushed it to a sufficient speed. But looking at how short a downhill run we had to work with, we realized we were going to have only one or two tries to get the truck started. Because it was Bob’s truck, and he was more familiar with it, and because he had jumpstarted it before, we changed the plan and put 200-pound Bob in driver’s seat. I stood behind the truck and began to push, first slowly and then once it got going, I started to run, moving the truck forward. Bob popped the clutch, and the truck skidded to stop.  We had one more try before we ran out of hill. This time, I was really pushing, and we were going faster. As I looked to my right, I saw Caren was next to me with two outstretched hands on the tailgate, pumping her legs. Bob popped the clutch again. Varoom, the truck turned over and sped off.  We hooted and hollered and celebrated.   I forgot to yell at her.

This pregnancy was not easy to achieve.  Most 47-year-olds in our situation would not need to be scolded about being too active.  Being the lazy one in the marriage, I’d love to be confined to bed rest or told to take it easy.  I could catch up on TV, or read, or just nap. Caren is different.  Right after the implantation, when the pregnancy was just 45 minutes old, she insisted on traveling from the fertility clinic on York Avenue and 70th Street in Manhattan all the way down to her acupuncturist’s office on 29th Street and Fifth Avenue.  I did win the argument about cab versus subway.  Afterward, we took the M7 bus back up to our apartment uptown because she admires the efficiency of its route, which has a stop right around the corner from our home. She got a seat after a couple of stops.  Whatever period of bed rest she was assigned back then, I am sure she cut it in half.  Two weeks later, I attended a freelance writers’ conference with her in Chicago, and two weeks after that, she was riding around Toronto with a cop well-versed in social media for a story.

One of 16 courses

She hasn’t slowed down since. She had some very demanding stories this summer and took on new assignments in the middle them. I know that I had a hard summer and fall, working eight days a week as I’m a lawyer and I had a heavy trial schedule. Every night I went to bed feeling achy and overworked, Caren would still be up clicking on the keyboard.  Every morning, when I was leaving, she would be back on the computer editing a daily online business newsletter.  Between the houses, (we are landlords), the stream of assignments and insisting on an active social life with her friends, her writers group, book group and family, I  gave up trying to slow her down.  I argued against hosting Thanksgiving, against having a pot roast AND a turkey, as well as 11 different side dishes and six desserts. I also argued against us having it in our city apartment, where our kitchen is in a hallway and ill equipped. I definitely did not want to decorate the place, with pine rope and white lights.  I lost on all counts.  It was a great meal.  This summer, I joked to a colleague at work that if the kid cannot survive a little stress in the womb, he or she was not going to make it around us anyway.

Last week, she addressed a heating issue in one of our rental properties by borrowing two guys, who work for our roofer friend, Frank, to tear up and replace the attic insulation. And I’m currently sitting at a makeshift office on the dining room table because I was pushed out of our home office on account of a last minute decision to add a master bath and dressing room next to our bedroom. We’ve been sleeping on the futon in the living room for a month, brushing our teeth in the kitchen sink and plucking clean clothes out of a laundry basket because we can longer access our closets or dressers.

The new bathroom is full of hard-to-find old bathroom parts that Caren was able to locate, and the bathroom and dressing area are lined with old wood paneling. Even our contractor, Bob, went on vacation for Christmas, but Caren spent New Year’s Eve and Day doing some unauthorized scraping, painting and staining.  As with Thanksgiving, I argued against the bathroom project, but it looks beautiful — particularly the 100 square feet of reclaimed oak paneling, now stripped and stained, that I told her not to buy two years ago in Rochester.

Wood is good.

Despite our outward confidence, Caren and I have both been carrying around an unspoken worry that maybe the chickens have come home to roost.  Over the last two months, as her belly has swelled, Caren has maintained almost the same weight. In fact she actually lost a pound in one appointment. And in that time period, we had not had an ultrasound that would at least give us a glimpse of the baby’s development and a report on its size and general health. When we finally met with the obstetrician last week, Caren read to the doctor from a list of questions we had written on a legal pad that morning.  The doctor assured us that the things we noted, like varicose veins, excessive heartburn, even a low-grade fever, were absolutely normal – though we were reminded to get a flu shot.  Apparently, Caren should have gotten one a long time ago.

Even our concerns about Caren’s weight were assuaged. The doctor took out her tape measure and wrapped it around the basketball in Caren’s stomach. The doctor squirted a gel on Caren’s belly and got ready to run a hand-held microphone, almost like a stethoscope, across it.

“Size is not a problem,” the doctor said. “You are actually a little bigger than you should be.”

Through the amplified microphone, we could hear the baby’s heart pounding. “Do you hear that?  The heartbeat is strong,” the doctor said. “It may be feeding off of you a little bit, but you are not emaciated.  Everything looks good.”

It seems like our little family actually thrives on stress.  I hope that is the case because we just got hit with a surprise.  We do not have a month and a half to get ready for baby Eddie.  We are probably going to have a baby on January 29, in thirteen days.  Our ultrasound doctor re-examined the placenta last week and saw that it hasn’t moved much at all, that it still sits perilously close to the cervix. So they decided to move more quickly and deliver the baby about a month ahead of schedule.

We obviously didn’t expect this. Caren has two stories due that weekend and was only then going to begin shopping for items for the nursery. And I was going to be frantically working on the last portions of a trial I had to start a few days ago. So today, we worked in earnest clearing out the baby’s room, where we had dumped three room’s worth of stuff during our construction project. We’ve been painting, dusting, mopping, buffing, and using this time to get rid of things we no longer need, like sweaters with moth holes and books we’ve already read. We booked Caren’s mom a flight for January 28, and we made a clean space for to Caren to work. I prepared a trial witness over the telephone and researched parts of a brief needed for the end of the trial. We need to. This baby is not walking into our lives but running, and he’s taking quite a risk by coming out early. But given the way things roll around here, he sounds like he’s going to fit right in.

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The nurse wheeled me into the recovery room, and I carefully slid from the gurney to a hospital bed, making sure not to let any of the embryos they’d just put inside me pour out onto the floor.  We’d just paid $18,000 for them. I imagined that scene in “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen sneezes into a pile of cocaine.

The nurse handed me my discharge instructions but told me I had to rest there for 30 minutes before I could go.

“We can’t find your husband. He must have stepped out,” she said.

Ever dependable Bruce, I thought. I went to nearly all of my blood and ultrasound appointments on my own. When I had minor surgery in preparation for the IVF, he had to work. He wasn’t even going to be able to come today on account of his job. If he’s not back by the time I’m ready to go, I’m just leaving.

Just then, I could hear the couple behind the curtain next to me.

“It was racist,” the man was saying to his wife. “I’m telling you. She didn’t have to say it like that.”

It was the man with the pock-marked face and his Chinese wife. I recognized their voices from the waiting room –or at least his voice. I’d hear him grouse, and then his wife would respond in a low murmur that was  inaudible. They had parked their baby carriage on one side of the room and sat in chairs on the other, as their daughter stomped back and forth in front of them. When the mother was called in for her procedure, the girl wailed. The father escorted her out into the hallway without touching her hand.

My Beautiful Blastocysts

I looked down at the photo they’d handed me in the surgical room of the two embryos they’d just put inside me. They looked like coins, the size of nickels. They were in the blastocyst stage, an indication of how many times they’d divided since being fertilized. Being 46 years old, I used a young egg donor because the chances of my own eggs being healthy enough to carry a pregnancy was less than 1%. My 20-year old donor was so fertile, she produced 22 eggs for me alone — at Cornell, most people share a donor — meaning she probably made almost twice that many. A healthy woman in her 40’s might produce six or eight — and oftentimes many of them are damaged. The doctors were able to fertilize 17 of the 22, and the chances of success with such a young donor are so high, they only transfer two embryos at a time, to avoid having multiple births.

I’d been through this with my sister, a year ago. She made the magnanimous gesture of donating me some of her eggs. The problem was, she was 41, which is pretty old in the egg business.  I remember the photo of the embryos using my sister’s eggs. We had used four that time. The embryos were fragmented, like a beehive. These new embryos had little bumps and brown spots, like a map or a pizza crust, but they were more uniform. No fragmentation. I took that as a good sign.

But these embryos weren’t just from a young girl perhaps in need of a little cash. She was a ballerina. A bonafide, professional ballerina.  And she knew how the ovary-stimulating drugs tired her out. She had to make sure she “cycled,” as they call it, during a down time in her busy dancing schedule.  I imagined her embryos swimming around inside me like synchronized swimmers, wearing white bathing caps and doing the breath stroke. Except the music I kept hearing was Alvin and the Chipmunks, singing, “All I Want is a Hula Hoop…” I just hoped they would continue to dance for nine whole months. And if they wanted to rest, they could do it that point.

“How much longer do I have to lie here,” the girl in the bed on the other side of me said.

“Five more minutes,” the nurse said.

“I really have to go to the bathroom,” she said. “And could you draw those circles on my butt again, so I know where to give myself the shots?”

“I’ll be right there,” the nurse said.

She drew the curtain in my cubicle.

“You can go now,” she said.

“But what about my clothes? My husband has my clothes?”

Transfer Day Roses

“They’re probably out in the waiting room. You can change in the restroom out there,” she said.

I got up and slid across the floor like an apparition, trying not to jostle the embryos. As I emerged from the recovery room into the waiting area, I saw my husband, Bruce, sitting in a chair reading, a big bouquet of roses next to him.

“The woman behind the counter said she’s been here 10 years, and she’s only seen two men bring roses,” Bruce said. “I was the second.”

I picked up the bouquet and cradled it in my arms, making sure not to break the stems.

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