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08/19/2004

Home free

I passed some sort of milestone. I am no longer assuming this pregnancy will fail.

I still fear it will. I rehearse in my head what I'd say to my parents. I contemplate asking Paul to go with me for the next live baby check — this afternoon — in case I need him to keep me from collapsing. I shave everything (well, almost everything) on the chance that I'll go straight to the hospital for a D&C.

I recognize that my thoughts are morbid. But they're not doomed. Or not entirely. It's progress.

It may be as far as I get. I am told that as my pregnancy progresses, as I eventually start to feel movement, my confidence will increase. And it may, but at the moment I'm all too aware that no one is ever home free.

Some women see two lines on a home pregnancy test and start picking out names, only to have their period arrive three days later. Some women breathe a sigh of relief when their second hCG test shows appropriate doubling. No heartbeat at 6 weeks. Or at 7. Or at 8. Some women see that heartbeat and jubilantly tell themselves, "Now my risk of miscarriage is less than 3%!" Yeah — now welcome to the lucky 3%. Some women pass the first trimester and think they're in the clear. And then.

We all know the stories. We're never home free. This vulnerability isn't limited to pregnancy — it's true for everyone, everywhere, once there's a child involved. It doesn't end with the arrival. A friend once told me parenthood is "like wearing your heart around on the outside of your body." Anything could happen at anytime, often without warning, usually at random. This is what we have to look forward to, a lifetime's worth.

This awareness is always with me. My own experience informs it, as do the stories of my friends. But where it used to paralyze me, at the moment it comforts me. You can either let the knowledge terrify you or liberate you. Because I am lazy and prefer to be comfortable, I choose the latter.

I'm still scared, but the fear has receded to a point where it's not in the foreground, where I can function, where I can hope, though not presume. I can live like this. It feels all right. There is a weird but welcome ease in knowing, okay, I'm not home free — but I'm also no more doomed than anyone else.

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