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The Eye of the Storm

Drowning, our lungs have filled with water. Gasping for breath, we sucked in little air. Weathering the storm thus far has not been graceful. In this momentary lull, we wring out, we dry off, we inhale deeply. We cannot change what has happened. We cannot make decisions from here. We cannot will the test results to arrive. Powerless, we brace ourselves. We wait indefinitely, until the winds pick up, the rain pelts our eyes, and we get washed up again.

Working hours are stabilizing, allowing me to channel all my energy toward the patients, toward helping others, toward conversations with people who have lives outside of our own. Schedules, deadlines, requests, reports, all saviors from a downward freefall of gloom, woe, and despair. Dismissing many offers to have my workload delegated to others, I relish the diversion. Sadly, it is fleeting, as evening always plays to my weakness. It will not leave me be in perpetual distraction. Disappointingly, dinner and television provide minimal distraction from life.  The Tuesday following our appointment is no different. Except. Except for one thing. Sitting, quietly, I reflect.

I don’t need to tell Jason about what happened earlier.

Earlier at work, within a routine bathroom break was an unexplained wetness. It was hardly noteworthy. Unconvinced, worry lingered. An unforgiving fear remained. A desperation to dismiss and forget surfaced.

It was isolated.

Until it wasn’t. Now what? Unlike the earlier incident, I cannot write this off. With shaking hands, I fumble with the bathroom door knob. This is noteworthy.

“Jason, I think something is wrong. There was blood. Not a lot, yet too much.” My voice doesn’t rise above barely audible. Keeping the earlier incident to myself, I sit close to Jason. Dissolving into his space, I hide from myself.

“What do you think that means?” he questions this as much as I do, with a befuddled expression.

 “I have no idea. I don’t think it’s suppose to be happening though.”

 “Keep an eye on it. If it continues, maybe we should call the doctor.”

I had hoped the “D” word would have remained unspoken. I have had enough of doctors and tests. Bleeding stop…Bleeding stop! Ten minutes lapse. Please no, please no, please no. Twenty minutes lapse. Please no, please no, please no. Forty-five minutes lapse. There is little begging left to do. If we are going to face this head on, we need do it soon. It’s already after office hours, so we’d have to call the answering service. Is it appropriate to bother the on-call doctor for this? I hate to be a bother…. The bleeding isn’t so bad, after all.

“We need to call, Babe. I’m worried.” Jason’s insistence is sharp. “I’ll call for you.”

I am reluctant, yet noting his intensity, I realize he will not let me say no. “Okay.” Teeth clenched, shoulders in perpetual shrug, I sit down.

Jason steps out of range, “She’s almost 20 weeks pregnant… she’s bleeding.” My face scrunches, making new wrinkles. With Jason’s emergence, the call is over. Waiting for the doctor’s callback is excruciating. The booming ticks of my watch fills the silence. We sit. We hold hands. We wait. As close to a prayer as I can, I plead. Please be good news…for once.

As Jason’s phone lights up, we jump. This is it. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

The conversation is short. My shoulders start to slack. The droop in my eyes lifts. There must be an easy solution!

“Well,” Jason’s tone offers concern. It is transferrable. “We have to go to the hospital. I spoke with Dr. Gladwell, and he wants us to go to the labor and delivery unit. He said if you were not as far along, he’d send us to the ER, but since you’re almost 20 weeks, we’ll go to labor and delivery. He’s going to call them to alert them that we are on our way, so they should be expecting us.”

My eyebrows raise, both shoulders rise abruptly. My mouth gapes, liberating a small gasp. “What? The hospital? There is nothing we can do about this from home?” Panic, confusion, racing thoughts. Jason’s calm demeanor offers a lopsided stabilization to the situation. Is he really as calm as he looks? He shakes his head, begrudgingly. Grabbing our coats, mittens, and scarves, the preparation to leave the warmth of the house, into the frigid outside, is arduous. No amount of clothing protects my heart from the chill. Before closing the door, I take a last look at the kitchen. Dishes line the shelves. The table is cleared save the napkins and salt shaker. The counters barren and scrubbed. With the snap of the lightswitch, the slide of the deadbolt, we are on our way. Sitting in the car, we steep in the silence.

Jason’s head turns, eyes glued on me, “Ready?”

An impossible question, yet there is nothing left to say. I am not ready. I nod that I am. The tire tread streaks down the driveway, leaving a sad path. During the short drive, I yearn for it to be boundless. Too soon, we pull onto the hospital grounds. Too soon, we park the car. Too soon, we have no where left to go. Leaving the vehicle’s asylum, I shuffle along, slightly sliding across a fresh, thin layer of snow. The glassy rotunda awaits us. Approaching the threshold, I feel a tug of my arm.

 Taking both my gloved hands, Jason finds the words he prepared during the short trip here, “Babe, no matter what happens, I love you. We are in this together.”

A single tear establishes temporary residency in the corner of my eye. Departing slowly, it leaves a frozen path on my cheek; The iciness generating tiny shivers. We are in this together. Step by step, we approach the mouth of the behemoth. The automatic door slides open to greet us. The warmth wafts our frosted faces. As the doors shutter behind us, we are swallowed up by the heat.

We are in this together.

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