A viva, lying on a hospital bed, threw a quick glance at Zevi before nodding to the doctor who’d just entered her room. It was a mere few hours after delivery; the nurses hadn’t even brought her baby back to her yet. She could read the question in her husband’s eyes: What is the pediatrician doing here?

“Mind if I sit down?”

Now Zevi was raising an eyebrow back at Aviva, as he pulled out a chair for the doctor. He sat back down on his own chair, and began twisting his tzitzis around his finger — a sure sign he suspected what was coming.

Aviva didn’t suspect; she knew. Knew as soon as the doctor walked into the room. Really, she’d known even before that — known the minute the baby was born, from the way her obstetrician’s mouth twisted, from the looks on the nurses’ faces as they quickly removed the baby and whisked her away. And all these long hours, as Aviva lay in her hospital room, resting, watching Zevi make gleeful phone calls to their family, she braced herself for the announcement she knew was sure to come.

Now here he was, Dr. Reimer, their longtime pediatrician, who had been there from their very first appointment with Chavi, when he’d patiently answered all her anxious questions about diaper rashes and burping and baby laundry detergents. He was shifting uncomfortably in his chair as he spoke: “Don’t worry — 36 weeks — that’s basically full-term — he’s small, but big enough—” When he reached the word “beautiful,” he stopped and cleared his throat, and Aviva knew it was coming.

“I believe your OB had mentioned the, ahem, possibility, a while back, of the baby having Trisomy 21.”

Zevi’s face puckered in momentary confusion, but Aviva nodded.

“Down’s,” she whispered to Zevi.

“Precisely,” the doctor said. “You opted not to do further testing at the time.” He cleared his throat again. “Your baby was born with clear physical indicators that he does, indeed, have Down syndrome. We’ll do a blood test to confirm the diagnosis, but I think at this point we can be fairly certain—” He stopped, and looked at the two of them.

Aviva felt the strangest sensation, as if she had left her body and was viewing this scene from somewhere near the ceiling, staring down at the players. Stage right, concerned doctor, leaning forward in chair. Stage left, mother in bed, eyes wide in horror. At her side, devastated father, speechless and trembling.

Zevi’s face was white, whiter than she could ever remember, and he looked like he was struggling not to burst out in strong emotion. Don’t get angry, it’s not the doctor’s fault, she wanted to tell him, but she couldn’t speak, hovering up there outside of her body.

Then Zevi asked a question, and she realized it wasn’t anger he was trying to suppress, but tears. And that rattled her so badly that her consciousness popped right back inside her head. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 541)