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She sat, shifting impatiently, in the waiting room of Dr. Brian McAdams. He hardly looked old enough to know how to use a stethoscope, but she had heard he was the best and these days she needed all of the help she could get. She picked at her already shredded cuticles while contemplating her reaction to the news she was about to receive. It’s going to be the same as always, she thought. He’s going to tell me that it didn’t work. He’s going to look at me through those awful wire rimmed glasses, the ones that made him look like a used librarian, and he’s going to tell me no.
Her eyes shifted to the posters filled with smiling happy families that lined each of the four walls in the rustic, cabin-like doctor’s suite. They mocked her. A fertility doctor should know better than to burden his patients with the pitying faces of those lucky enough to have what they want. She resisted the urge to grab the Sharpie from the medical assistant’s desk and deface each and every one of them. “Liar,” she would scrawl. “No hope.” She would surely be asked to leave, but the part of her that hated every last one of her nosy small-town neighbors, almost didn’t care. Almost.
She tried to flip through a six month old copy of “Home and Garden,” but her mind couldn’t latch on to anything she was reading. It didn’t matter, she thought. Rose gardens were for rich people and she and Rick were barely getting by these days. With rent already one week past due, she’d be lucky if she had four walls to call a home in the next month. But none of it mattered. The only thing that meant anything anymore was having this baby. A quick, frustrated turn of a fragile page and she’d ruined yet another doctor’s rag. She tossed it aside, suddenly aware that she’d flipped through that exact issue at least four other times in the past few weeks.
She thought about how rare it was to have a specialist like Dr. McAdams in a place like Whistle Creek County. The optimist in Gale was grateful to have him there, even if the procedures never seemed to do anything. Rick always thought that it was a waste of their money, but Gale insisted. Their dream family was worth the seemingly endless doctors appointments, the mountain of frustration and the thousands of dollars already invested. Maybe this time, she thought. Maybe this time if I think really positively he will say something different. Maybe this time will finally be different.
Her jumbled thoughts followed her all the way into the doctor’s “gentlemen’s lounge” office. The walls of his inner sanctuary were covered with stuffed trophies of past hunting excursions. Forget having enough mileage to operate a stethoscope, she thought, was he even old enough to own a gun? She physically shook the thought from her head as she tried to relax back into the deep, cool leather chair. Relaxation was difficult these days. Nothing seemed to slow her heart beat down to anything near tolerable. A bead of sweat that had been forming on her palm suddenly broke free of her clammy skin and dropped to the floor. The bearskin rug it landed on had always given her the creeps, but she tried not to think about it for fear of vomiting up the half of an apple she managed to choke down during lunch.
“Maybe we should just get started,” she said.
Dr. McAdams smiled at her warmly, but she could feel his pity. She knew what his answer would be.
“Are you sure you don’t want to wait for Rick?” He asked. “It might be best to have him here for this.”
She couldn’t stop them. Before he even had the chance to sigh in awkward frustration, they flooded down her face – a steady stream from an angry river. She gasped as she doubled over in the chair, the pain in her chest making it difficult to breathe. Dr. McAdams joined her on her side of the desk, crouched down beside her and patted her back, a forced sign of comfort. A soft, inconsolable growl started from deep within her, rolled through her chest and finally roared out of her throat. She didn’t even bother trying to stop it like she had in the past. It wasn’t worth pretending anymore.
“There are other options you know.”
She mumbled something even she couldn’t understand through her sobs. She wanted to tell him that nothing short of her own biological child would be acceptable. Adoption was not an option. She could feel his hands running across her back. Over and over again his hands rose and fell in a half-hearted caress and it made her want to slap him. Life is not an inspirational poster, she thought. Everything will not always be okay.
“You need to calm down. This stress that you are putting on yourself is not healthy for you.”
She looked at him, but the image was blurred. That must be how he saw her, she thought. Messy, lacking stability, falling apart. She was a failure. What is this woman who cannot bare a child? He would never understand her. Even she didn’t understand her. She knew that she was nothing.
Just one more trophy in the room. One more life taken, wasted and mounted on the wall.