nearly seventeen years gone by. an entire lifetime. so glad it's now and not back then. remembering that devastating thirty-two week sonogram. our tiny breech baby. his brain's enlarged lateral ventricles. harsh doctor saying we need to worry, it could affect IQ. remembering wanting to punch her in the gut. strong enough to sack her but lacking the will and bad character to follow through.

twenty-four hour visit to boston hospitals. dawn emerges behind leaden clouds. highway flanked by barren trees and frozen waterfalls. black and white landscape. salt-blanched asphalt. traffic for hours. gridlock in the city. bitter cold out. homeless people with cardboard signs begging for pennies just to get by. remembering somber faces atop bundled-up bodies hurrying to work on frozen sidewalks. hardly a spot in a dizzying, corkscrew parking lot.

remembering maze-like hospital halls. antiseptic atmosphere. plastic plants and waxed linoleum floors. sickening pink walls and queazy teal upholstery. optic-white jackets scurrying about. gaudy scrubs and squeaky clogs. fluorescent lights. bells and buzzes and alarms. remembering stacks of diaphanous johnnies. seeing my naked, pregnant, sobbing self reflected in a cheap mirror affixed to a changing-room wall. non-stop appointments and yet waiting for hours. radiologists. obstetricians. neonatalologists. pediatric neurologists. phlebotomists. sonograms galore. one fetal MRI. alone in that shiny white capsule as if rocketing to mars. three-hundred images in one half hour.

blood tests. false positives. theories of platelet incompatibilities, fetal brain bleeds, blood clots and blockages. four-hour intravenous gamma globulin straddling midnight. plans for a thirty-five week cesarean. hypnobirthing no longer an option. talk of possible brain surgery to install a shunt. donor platelets on hand in case of hemorrhage. talk of possible need to assist with his breathing. anxiety. dread. fear. exhaustion. the promise of parenthood comes into question. so glad it's now and not back then.

Photo by Michael Kolster

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