DSC_0614Late Tuesday, I was notified that a recent blood test came back positive for the likelihood of catastrophic genetic abnormalities with our baby-to-be. They'd need to take some emergency diagnostic tests, but it didn't look good.

I hung up the phone, and sat down in my orange chair, staring out at the green jungle of our backyard for a few minutes. The leaves were fluttering in the afternoon light and a mockingbird twittered happily away. Otherwise it was quiet. It was beautiful. Achingly, glitteringly beautiful. A moment of suspended peace.

My inner space felt likewise quiet, conversation and heartbeats suspended.

Today I was pregnant, belly full of telltale flutterings. Next week, I might not be. That simple. That fast.

That's how it often goes, one day your life is normal, the next there's a new reality that leaves you reeling, broken, struggling alone on a new path. Suddenly, you're forced to redefine your world, the people around you, yourself. These are the kinds of blows from which you may or may not recover.

As I looked out into the leafy green cool of the backyard, I considered how strange it seems, that on some level while we know it's up to us to control our perception of reality, in the moment, it never really feels like it's possible. It feels bigger than us. Makes us think of things like the universe, or God, because it's all just happening to us and feels out of hand. We want to make sense of it. But really, there's no sense to be made of it. It just is.

That's the part that's so uncomfortable, isn't it? It falls back into our lap, to manage as we will. Repackage it, accept it, internalize it, deny it - each choice has a different consequence. How will I choose to manage this? I wondered. How will I shape my perception to live with this every day of my life, moving forward?

I knew the answer immediately. Accept it as unchangeable. Endure the necessary steps. Take support from those giving it. Move on. I sighed and dialed The Varmint down in the garden studio. I asked him to please come upstairs. Something in my voice told him to come immediately, because unlike his usual relaxed response, he bounded up the steps two at a time.

I've noticed that in our lives, many difficult conversations happen at our back door. The death of friends, family trauma, loss. This day we added another to that list, talking quietly, without drama or hysterics and parted quietly afterward. Each of us needed time to accept what our brains were telling us, to brace for what might come. We'd return to one another for support as we always do once we'd begun the process of sandbagging our innards.

The week spooled out in front of us. Tests, needles, more tests and waiting. We were careful and quiet with one another, insulating ourselves in love, focusing on Makenna. No tears, really, excepting one or two moments of frustration and exhaustion on my part. It has been a hard six months.   

Late on Friday, we received word: The news was good. While more results are due in next week, the major concerns returned negative. Barring unforeseen tragedy, we appear to be out of the woods. I feel as if someone has removed a corset I didn't know I was wearing. Squeezing me tight, it kept my backbone straight while disallowing breath. I inhale deep and exhale freely, feeling relief and exhaustion and a pounding tension headache suddenly roll over me. The Varmint is wary, and takes longer to accept the good news. We're both beaten, spent, and incredulous. We're feeling the happiness of relief, which isn't happiness at all, really. More of a profound appreciation for the absence of pain.

I look down and pat my belly. "Atta girl," I smile, restarting our conversation. "Glad you'll be joining us, after all."

Outside, the mockingbird starts up a new song and flits to the elm tree outside Makenna's window.


  1. maestroevan said on April 9, 2009 22:16

    Beautiful writing about a powerful emotional crossroads. Thank you, Tam. You are a steady captain through the storm. We send peaceful, healthy baby vibes to y'all!


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >