In the gleaming city in the Northwest, there seemed to be plenty of chances to meet people, especially smart women. I got it into my head that I could invent some composite of personalities who might “be there” for me—in a way that my brother couldn’t—when things got hard, or lonely, or too quiet and gray. Could I make friends with lots of women, and somehow, in so doing, manage to create a feeling, at least, of having someone close by who was female and kind of knew me?
As we age, we see it more clearly: people have their own stuff going on, all the time. So it wasn’t personal, when no one seemed to care too much about how it had felt to lose my baby-in-the-making. First pregnancy. A puncturing diagnosis. A heartwrenching, gut-choking choice.
“It’s like carpooling,” said one friend, a photographer with an artist’s eye. “You know people for as long as they’re traveling the same vector with you, but when your paths veer, that’s it. You say goodbye. Maybe you’ll see them again, maybe you won’t.” Driving up I-5 from Portland, she at the wheel and me riding shotgun, we kept our gazes forward-facing, through a giant windshield, rain patters just starting. We were quiet for a long time. I didn’t know she would be one of those who’d fade into the background, like we missed the connection to a new road and a farther-on exit, when I’d tell her through trembling quivers that I’d lost my pregnancy, after all. It’s like carpooling. Maybe you’ll see them again, maybe you won’t.
Getting pregnant the summer of 2005 was supposed to be a highlight, wasn’t it? But that thing happened. The diverging, and pulling away. “I’m kind of busy this week,” came the responses to invites for coffee or lunch. Old girlfriends didn’t want to hear how I was so tired all the time, or felt like having to pee, or what a flutter in the abdomen, just there, just new, could trigger in the heart. Pregnancy and the newborn became topics relegated to Internet forums, where we all participated knowing how contrived it was, what with oversaturated JPEGs and impossibly smart captions.
Having just turned thirty-one, I was thinking that this was it, the next phase, the thing to talk to about with girlfriends I’d been getting to know over nights out, what with listening to their stories about dating, about teenage crushes, about the books we liked, and the places we were discovering. Wasn’t this the most fantastic place of all, the one that we’d most want to share in? But, no. It was, “Oh, congratulations, but I’ve got other plans.” Had I been wrong about the sense of connectedness with these women, also my age, also in the city, seeking and searching? A twinge of failure hit me, there.
Then, I got the diagnosis.
My baby had a defect.
A stubborn, extra chromosome. Down Syndrome.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish