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Choosing Joy

Faigy Schonfeld

But the ultrasound technician is taking her time and I begin to fidget. In the semi-darkness, I scrutinize her face. I wait, suddenly breathless

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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Photo: Shutterstock


long wait at the doctor’s office is not what I wanted today, on Erev Succos. There’s too much joy in the cool autumn breeze. The avenues look like a massive circus, replete with tents of tinsels and gaudy decorations. I sigh, tired and happy, and wait.

The heady fragrance of pending holiday is compounded by the magic of a kicking little being inside me. It’s been a long pregnancy, as pregnancies tend to be, and I’ve been dreaming lately of baby fragrance, buttery skin, and delicious, tiny things.

The doctor, Dr. Keilson, is chirpy. “You’ll be outta here in a jiffy,” she promises. My mind is on dessert, (chocolate pie the first night — or apple cobbler?), when her voice snaps me out of my sugary ruminations. “So... we’re measuring a bit small.”

I startle. I’m in my ninth month already and so far, it’s been smooth sailing. “Oh.” I say, “Why?”

“Well, there could be a number of reasons. I wouldn’t worry yet. Are you eating right?” Dr. Keilson asks me about my diet, about my work schedule. Finally, she orders an ultrasound. “Just as a precaution,” she shrugs. “I’m fairly certain all’s well.”

Well, if she’s fairly certain, then so am I. I mentally go through my last-minute shopping list and wonder if I should bring a salad or kugel to tomorrow’s seudah. It’s only decent to contribute something. We’ll be eating all the meals at my parents — no flying off to the in-laws now, with the due date around the corner.

But the ultrasound technician is taking her time and I begin to fidget. In the semi-darkness, I scrutinize her face. I wait, suddenly breathless, as she sighs lightly, pushes back her chair, and leaves the room, telling me to wait for the doctor.

By now, my palms are cold, my stomach tight. I close my eyes and will myself to halt my monstrous imaginations. Then the door opens, light floods the room. The doctor smiles, too sweetly, pats dark bangs out of her eyes. Before she speaks, I pounce.

“The baby. Is my baby okay?”

“Well... we hope so,” she says slowly. My heart clobbers my throat as she continues. “It’s... the baby is small, worryingly small. And we’re not quite sure why. Everything looks fine.” She pauses. I want to shake her. 


“Hopefully, the baby is small, just because. You know”—she smiles again, spreading her arms—“some babies are just small. And they’re perfectly okay.”
“And if it’s not just because?” 
She shrugs. “Let’s hope it’s just a small baby.”
“But what if not?” I am begging, desperate, but I don’t care.
The doctor purses her lips. “Well, it can sometimes signify chromosomal abnormalities.”I am stunned. Quickly, she continues, “Like I said, everything looks fine, so let’s hope Baby’s okay.”
“Yes,” I whisper.

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