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Learning Curve: Chapter 28

Gila Arnold

Yael’s in-laws surprise her with a weekend getaway. Aviva has her 20-week ultrasound, and the technician sees something worrisome

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A viva carefully pasted a big smile on her face and then opened the front door. She was assaulted at once by her entire clan. “Mommy! You’re home!”

“What’s for dinner?”

“How’d it go?”

The last one was from Zevi, asked quietly, and Aviva gave him a brief, private nod. “It was fine,” she said, though her heart squeezed hard inside her at the lie. Now, in front of the kids, was not the time to talk.

He smiled, an easy, reassured smile; she felt like screaming. No! It’s not fine at all! The entire world is tumbling down! But she had to get a grip on herself, because she was the mother here, and she had to be strong; she could not let her children see how terrified she was inside, how she was carrying a baby who might be wrong, all wrong…

She shook her head, struggling to place her anxiety inside a box and shut the cover firmly. Later, after she’d made dinner and put her kids to bed, after Zevi had left for shul in blissful ignorance, she would sit by the computer and research markers and amniocentesis and every little bit of information the technician had thrown her way, after insisting that she must speak to her OB to get actual medical guidance.

Aviva had sat rigidly across from the technician, knuckles whitening as they gripped the desk, and must have frightened the lady enough that she put her hand on Aviva’s arm and said, “Don’t worry, honey, it might not be anything at all. Either way, you’ll have a beautiful baby, and that’s all that counts, right?”

Aviva had not even bothered to reply. That’s all that counts? To give birth to a baby with who-knows-what kind of disorder, defect, or syndrome from the wide list of medical problems out there in the world? But she’d steeled herself, straightened her shoulders, and, with a tight smile, stood up and said, “I’ll be in touch with Dr. Resnik, then.”

And now she was home, and going to spend the next few hours feeding and caring for her family, and not thinking about anything else. She walked through the house in a fog, willing herself to keep moving, to do what she needed to do. Chavi, she noticed, was sitting at the dining room table, head bent over a notebook. Chavi. With a pang of guilt, she realized how much she’d been neglecting her relationship with her eldest lately. She walked over to her, put her hand on her shoulder, and said, “What’s that you’re working on?”

Chavi looked up. “Chumash. I have a big report due tomorrow.” She looked wary as Aviva sat down next to her.

Aviva swallowed and made her voice gentle as she asked, “Need any help?” Chavi gave her a slow smile. “Yeah, I’d love some.”

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