Thursday, September 07, 2000

My wife is pregnant. Writing that still gives me a sense of disorientation, as if I had just awakened from a dream to discover that the dream is true. I don't mean that I dreamt of fatherhood, waiting for the day when I would marry & have kids. On the contrary, I had more or less imagined that fatherhood was probably not in my future & that that was ok. Whatever desire I had for children was an abstract one, which I could have fulfilled by being a sperm donor. I never got around to it, though, which shows how strong even that desire was.

My wife & I were friends for years before we got involved romantically and had adventures which I may or may not write about. When it became clear that we were going to be partners & we decided to have a child, we found that we may have waited too long; nothing happened.

The first part of this story, then, which I probably won't ever ever tell very well, is about our quest for pregnancy. It's an interesting story, though, full of challenges and defeat and eventual triumph, definitely worth telling even though I suppose a lot of other people have similar ones. Heck, the bulletin board of the fertility clinic is covered with pictures of babies and each one has a story like ours. But a lot of people never succeed and give up with no babies.

In about 10 weeks we should have ours. The ultrasound technician says we have a little girl with all of the right parts, a heart with, a complete spine and no cleft palate. We have the pictures to prove it. In fact, we have video. My wife takes medication which she really can't stop and the risks of spina bifida, heart valve defects, and a cleft palate are all increased. The risks are still very small; the most likely defect was the cleft palate, with an incidence, given her medication, in the neighborhood of .1%. 1 in a thousand. The risks of the disabling defects were several times smaller. We decided we could live with that. One of her doctors recommended against children, but the doctor at the fertility clinic didn't seem too concerned, and when we went and looked the risks up, we decided that we could almost ignore them.

But, rational as we try to be, who can avoid being just a little nervous? We didn't take an ultrasound or a blood test (they have blood tests for Down's syndrome. I didn't know that) without worrying about the results. I wonder: f I'm worrying about these unlikely things, how will I do when she stays out too late?