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The worst place your water could break.

The Hollywood Bowl. During an especially quiet part of a classical


concert, not Darth Vader's theme from the !tar "ars !uite. #ou're in
a center bo$ seat, close enough to see the sweat on the cello player's
forehead, and the space is crowded tight with four people, so an
inconspicuous e$it will be impossible. #our husband notices the
concrete %oor of the bo$ is suddenly slick and wet and whispers, Did
you spill your wine& 'nd you'd like to belie(e him)it could be wine,
but you know it's amniotic %uid. Vintage, nine months.
There are se(eral problems with this scenario, one of them being
you're not drinking wine these days. *regnancy requires +artinelli's
!parkling ,ider, nothing alcoholic.
'nd two, it's been weeks since your husband mo(ed out of the house
and into an apartment. !o what would you be doing together at the
Hollywood Bowl&
'nother bad place for your water to break)a plane. -lying to the most
remote spot on earth, o(er the ocean, four hours from any airport.
.r alone on a desert island. /o doctors, no midwi(es. #ou always
meant to watch the #ouTube (ideo that e$plains how 'nyone ,an
Deli(er Their .wn Baby. Too late now.
't 0race's house, sitting on her new 1oche Bobois white leather sofa.
2t cost more than a car, she tells you. The leather feels like butter.
!o the parking lot at the Trader 3oe's in !herman .aks isn't the worst
place4 it's not e(en top ten bad. 5aurie is loading her bags in the trunk
and thinking about how she caught the clerks winking at each other
when they saw the cra6y pregnant lady buying se(en bags of dark7
chocolate7co(ered pret6els. The pret6els aren't for me, she told them.
2'm ha(ing a party. -or my book club.
2nside the car, she opens a pret6el bag)8ust to make sure they're fresh
)and feels something moist in her panties. /ot a great rush of %uid,
but the sensation is a shock all the same. The baby isn't due for
another week. 't home, she goes to the bathroom, and when she looks
in the toilet, the water is pink. !he calls Dr. 5iu and he tells her to head
to the hospital.
5aurie's mother is at home in 1eno and still on crutches because of her
broken knee)calling will only make her worry.
0race is in /apa, annoyed at 5aurie because she hasn't been asked to
be the birth coach. 0race is a wonderful person, 5aurie's best friend,
but her alarmist personality 9Do you know the real probability of an
asteroid striking the earth&: is not the support 5aurie needs in a
deli(ery room.
'lan isn't answering his phone. !he could lea(e a message. .r not.
5aurie walks down the hall to the guest room. The door is closed so she
knocks. !he can hear the creak of the bed and 3ack appears. His hair is
messed up and he rubs at his eyes.
2 was studying, he says. He ;ghts a yawn. 2 wasn't asleep. He
yawns again.
5aurie considers. +aybe she should call 'lan back and lea(e a
message.
2nstead she nods at 3ack. 2 think it's time.
.n The -lintstones, pregnant "ilma tells -red, 2'm ready, and -red
gets so e$cited he hops in the car and dri(es o< with Barney instead.
"ilma remains calm, not worrying about how they ha(en't in(ented
*itocin or epidurals yet. !he's a ca(ewoman4 she probably has to
butcher her own T71e$ if -red wants steak for dinner. 'nd she knows,
e(en though he's -red, he'll remember e(entually and come back for
her.
't the hospital, -red paces and waits with Barney. He's not allowed in
the deli(ery room with "ilma.
"ho's going to be in the deli(ery room with 5aurie& !he closes her
eyes.
#abba dabba doo.
Bring the notes for your ;nal and 2'll qui6 you between contractions,
5aurie tells 3ack.
He frowns, his eyes wary. He's changed his clothes, and he's wearing a
baseball cap)backward)to hide his bed hair.
That's a 8oke, 5aurie says.
3ack smiles, oh right, as if he knew that's what she meant all along, and
5aurie considers saying the word dilation 8ust to watch his face go pale.
But that would be cruel and things are cra6y enough already, and this
isn't the way it's supposed to be and goddamn it, 'lan is her husband4
he should be here instead of 3ack, her houseguest, although that's
probably not the best way to e$plain her relationship to 3ack, which is
only insanely complicated and where the hell is 'lan anyway& 3ack
takes a step closer and says, (ery gently, Do you ha(e e(erything&
3ack is sometimes surprisingly wise and percepti(e for a twenty7one7
year7old.
=(erything e$cept my husband. 2 hope so, 5aurie says. !he packed
her birthing bag weeks ago and has only repacked it three times. !he
tries 'lan's cell again and lea(es a message. 2'm on my way to the
hospital.
.n the dri(e o(er the hill to ,edars7!inai, she times the contractions.
=(ery twenty minutes. 0ood, little chance of 3ack ha(ing to pull o(er to
the side of ,oldwater ,anyon so he can deli(er the baby himself. The
air conditioning in 3ack's car is broken, so the (ent abo(e her knees
blows out arctic air and 3ack reaches in the backseat for a blanket.
!orry, he says and she's not sure if he's sorry about the broken air
conditioner or the fact the blanket is a tiger7stripe !nuggie, but it's
warm enough and keeps her knees from aching.
2s there any music you want to hear& 3ack asks her.
2 ha(e a labor mi$ on my i*od.
5aurie plugs her i*od into 3ack's adaptor. Hits shu>e. -rank !inatra
begins to sing 2'(e 0ot the "orld on a !tring.
3ack makes a face. This is your labor mi$&
"hat would you pick&
3ack shrugs. 2 don't know. !omething not as old7fashioned.
.ld7fashioned& 2t's -rank !inatra. 2t's classic. !ome songs, some
(oices, ne(er go out of style.
2 guess. 2f you say so. 3ack doesn't sound con(inced.
'lan likes -rank !inatra. 2s that why she picked this song& !he will try
not to think about 'lan. !ing to me, -rank. 'bout rainbows, about how
life is a wonderful thing.
3ack's hands clutch at the steering wheel. 2s he dreading what's about
to happen& /one of us signed up for this, 3ack. !he leans against the
headrest. 2t makes a snapping sound and pops back a few inches.
!orry. 2 keep meaning to ;$ that, 3ack says.
The admissions nurse is young, not much older than 3ack. Her
nameplate says ,onstance and 5aurie thinks that's a good sign, a
name you'd like to see when you arri(e at the hospital in labor. /othing
as upsetting as ,ruella or +ale;cent. "hy is 5aurie thinking about
cartoon characters& 2s it some symptom of early labor& They didn't
mention that in 5ama6e.
,onstance is smiling at 3ack. #our ;rst&
3ack's mouth opens, but he doesn't say anything.
,onstance nods at 5aurie. -irst time fathers, you can always tell.
2 think it's my ;rst, 3ack says ;nally. But there could be more. 5ots
more.
5aurie pats 3ack on the arm. T+2.
,onstance %ips through 5aurie's ;le. !uper, you'(e already done your
preregistration. #ou'd be surprised how many people put it o<.
'nother smile at 3ack. Do you know what you're ha(ing&
2 hope it's a baby, 3ack says.
,onstance laughs as if 3ack's on stage at the ,omedy !tore. 5aurie
clears her throat. !houldn't ,onstance be sending her o< to a room&
5aurie hears a burst of music from 3ack's pocket, ,ry of the Black
Birds, from 3ack's current fa(orite metal band, 'mon 'marth. ,ry of
the Black Birds is ringtone code for 3ack's parents. 3ack pulls out his
phone and mo(es away from the desk.
Don't worry. He'll be ;ne, ,onstance says to 5aurie.
2 know, thank you. 5aurie hopes 3ack is ;ne, but why are his parents
calling& The timing is terrible4 he's worried enough about his ;nal and
now she's in labor)she shouldn't ha(e made him come with her. "hen
he's o< the phone, she'll send him back to the house, insist his ;nal is
the most important thing in his life right now. !he'll be okay on her
own. 'lan will get her message and show up.
?nless he doesn't. The contractions are coming closer together now,
and she reali6es she'd like to lie down.
3ack walks o(er to 5aurie4 he turns his cap forward. Then back again.
=(erything okay& 5aurie says.
/ot really. +y parents are here. Here here. 2n 5.'. .n their way to the
hospital.
5aurie tries to take that in. #ou told them&
+y sister did. Blabbermouth.
5aurie e$hales. .kay. !o they know. But don't worry about your
parents. .r me. Think about your ;nal. #ou need to study.
2 can't study now. 2 ha(e to deal with this. He points at 5aurie's
stomach.
This. ' tsunami7si6ed wa(e of guilt washes o(er 5aurie. Her head
feels fu66y4 the lights of the admissions desk are too bright. 5ike
spotlights.
2'm sorry, 3ack says. 2 don't mean to sound like an asshole.
,onstance leans o(er the desk, wa(ing a form at 3ack. +r. 0aines& 2
need your signature on this.
3ack looks at 5aurie, at ,onstance. 2'm not +r. 0aines.
The lights around 5aurie multiply. !he has to squint and her fu66y head
grows fu66ier.
"ill you call 'lan& she asks 3ack. +aybe he'll pick up this time. "hy
are the lights so hot& 'nd why does 3ack ha(e two faces& "ith four
eyes, two noses& 2s this another sign& "ill the baby be born like that&
=(erything is supposed to happen for a reason, that's what people say.
"hat people& "ho would come up with a stupid saying like that&
5aurie& #ou look kind of@ Two7headed 3ack is mo(ing toward her. 'nd
the admissions nurse, ,ruella or ,onstance)5aurie can't remember
her name, but she has two heads as well)no, three heads, a hydra7
headed nurse. That can't be good. 'nd she's mo(ing quickly from
behind the desk and motioning at someone.
Tell 'lan we'll name the baby Bamm7Bamm, 5aurie says to 3ack
before she passes out in his arms.
CONCEPTION
LAURIE
,ongratulations, says Dr. 5iu. #ou're pregnant. 5aurie notices Dr. 5iu
has dimples on either side of his mouth, and she hopes her baby will
ha(e dimples. But not Dr. 5iu's early male pattern baldness. Thank 0od
'lan's father has a full set of hair. .r is it 5aurie's father& 5aurie frowns
)damn, why did she sleep through most of high school biology& "hen
she gets home, she'll go on the 2nternet and research genetics. ?nless
the baby is born bald and stays bald. Does that e(er happen& "hen
will Dr. 5iu tell her about all the things that can go wrong&
Dr. 5iu taps her hand and gi(es her a reassuring doctor smile. There's
nothing to worry about. "omen ha(e been gi(ing birth for thousands
of years.
.n her way home from the doctor's oAce, 5aurie stops at a Barnes and
/oble and heads for the pregnancyBchildbirth books. 3ust walking into
the section makes her feel special, as if she's got a secret. "hen she
pulls out a pregnancy book, she considers showing it out to the ;rst
person she sees. #ep, she'll say. That's me. Ha(ing a baby. 2nstead,
she %ips through the book and glances at photos of pregnant women
and infants. .n one page, she sees a woman breastfeeding twins.
Twins& !he hasn't considered the possibility of multiples.
.ne will be plenty the ;rst time around. The starter baby. The second
pregnancy, twins will be okay. Because by then she'll be a pro. ?nless
maternal instinct kicks in the ;rst time. "hich it might4 why wouldn't
it& 5aurie has always wanted to ha(e a baby.
0rowing up in 1eno as an only child, her cousins and other family
members scattered in -lorida and ,hicago, she'd begged her parents
for a sibling. "hen that didn't happen, she in(ented a sibling of her
own, an old 0.2. 3oe gi(en to her by a friend who didn't want any boy
dolls. 0.2. 3oe became her con;dante)she'd tell him e(erything. 'bout
;ghts with her mother o(er stupid things like her messy room or
getting in trouble at school for talking too much. "orries about her
father when he got sick with cancer that would e(entually kill him
when she was si$teen.
2'm going to ha(ing a hundred babies, 3oe, she would tell him. +y
house will be so ;lled with children 2 won't be able to keep track of
them all.
3oe didn't answer back, of course. He stared at her with his scarred 0.2.
3oe face and she wondered)how did he get that scar& "hat happened
to the man who ga(e it to him& 0.2. 3oe probably killed him with his
bare hands.
2n the bookstore she looks down at her still7%at belly. "hat is her baby
doing right now& Baby& +ore like a clump of cells. 2s heBshe able to
think yet& .f course not. "hat is the de;nition of life& 2s it something
only sustainable outside a womb& Does a !ea7+onkey count as life&
5aurie feels tears in her eyes. 2s this what being pregnant is about)
crying o(er !ea7+onkeys&
The Barnes and /oble has a small music section, so 5aurie looks at
classical ,Ds. !he pulls out +endelssohn's Violin ,oncerto in = +inor,
.pus CD.
The ;rst mo(ement is 'llegro molto appassionato. !he doesn't know
what allegro or molto mean. Her musical knowledge is limited to ;(e
years of piano lessons and occasional trips to concerts or ballets.
'ppassionato might be about passion. 5ike se$. 2s that what
+endelssohn was thinking when he was writing his (iolin concerto&
!he takes out her i*hone and goes to her Dictionary.com app and
searches for allegro. ,heerful, or brisk. +olto means (ery.
*assionate, (ery cheerful, (ery brisk. ' little like se$ with 'lan when
he's preoccupied with work. !ometimes she sees a look in his eye as if
he's wondering why he left his BlackBerry in the kitchen.
The last mo(ement is 'llegro non troppo, 'llegro molto (i(ace. 5aurie
rolls the words around in her mouth. "hat a great word, troppo. '
potential baby name& Troppo means too much, e$cessi(ely. .kay,
she'll buy the +endelssohn ,D and play it later)good for the baby's
growing brain.
?nless heBshe can't hear yet. 2t's too confusing to refer to the baby as
heBshe. 2f she keeps doing that, the baby will be born with both male
and female genitalia. !he'll think of the baby as he. /ot that she'd
prefer a boy. =ither one will be ;ne, 8ust not both.
Back at home, 5aurie goes into the oAceBbaby's room and looks
around. "hat color should they paint the walls& 2s the room too small&
"ill it ;t a crib, a changing table& !hould they ha(e bought a bigger
house& !he won't worry about that now4 instead, she opens one of her
new books to a fertili6ation illustration. "ith her ;nger she tracks the
8ourney of hearty sperm making their way through the tubes in search
of a friendly egg.
The fertili6ed egg di(ides into two cells, then four, and continues
di(iding as it %oats down the fallopian tube to the uterus, by which
time there are roughly EF cells. This cell bundle is called a morula)
5atin for mulberry, which it resembles.
5aurie puts her hands on her stomach and imagines cells multiplying.
!ees Troppo changing from 6ygote to morula to blastocyst, hundreds of
cells creating an embryo.
#oo7hoo, Troppo. #ou can't hear me yet, she whispers to her baby7to7
be. But you will soon.
"hen 'lan comes home from work, 5aurie surprises him with a bottle
of champagne and a homemade chocolate cake)a welcome baby
cake, she calls it. 'lan kisses her and they eat cake before dinner and
5aurie has one tiny 9(ery tiny: sip of champagne to celebrate.
"ow. *retty o(erwhelming, 'lan says to 5aurie.
5aurie nods. 2 still can't belie(e it. Do you think Dr. 5iu was kidding&
+aybe he's not really a doctor4 he's 8ust a guy who sneaks into an ob7
gyn oAce and puts on a white lab coat.
'nd sees you naked& 'lan says. 2'll ha(e to kill him.
Troppo will ha(e a goofy sense of humor like 'lan. He will be tall and
handsome and blond and green7eyed like 'lan, smart and kind and,
e$cept for too7light eyebrows, perfect genetic material.
"hy are you staring at me& he asks.
2'm hoping the baby looks like you.
Be as good7looking as me& There's not enough room on the planet. 2
want him to look e$actly like you. .nly masculine. /o o<ense. #ou
know what 2 mean.
!he laughs, imagines Troppo split in half)half 'lan, half 5aurie, like
someone in a circus sideshow. "ill the baby be semi7neurotic and
addicted to chocolate like 5aurie& !et in his ways and almost .,D
organi6ed like 'lan& !ometimes 'lan refers to himself as retro. That
e$plains why he still carries a BlackBerry and wears Brooks Brothers
o$ford shirts and deck shoes. 5aurie can't decide which decade 'lan
belongs in)the 'GFs& ' member of the establishment in the CFs& .n
one of their early dates, he showed up wearing a light blue seersucker
8acket.
+y grandfather had a 8acket like that, she told him, trying hard not to
make a face.
2'm fashionably unfashionable, 'lan said. 'nd how could you not fall
in lo(e with a man cra6y enough to own and wear a seersucker 8acket&
=(en though after their wedding it mysteriously disappeared.
'lan ;nishes his champagne. *regnancy's already made you prettier.
That pregnancy glow they talk about& 'm 2 illuminating the room&
she says.
2 better get my sunglasses. He pours himself another glass of
champagne. !o now 2 guess we make a list. 'lan takes out his
BlackBerry. "hat do we do ;rst&
5aurie thinks. 0ather wood. Build a shelter. "e'(e got that co(ered.
?nless our house isn't big enough.
.ur house is ;ne. 2t's a baby4 they're small. 't least for a while. 'lan
frowns. 2'm a newbie at this. 2 need instructions.
2t's like riding a bike, 5aurie says.
#ou're sure&
/o, beats me. 2'm a newbie too, remember& !he sits in his lap and
leans her head against his shoulder. But how hard can it be&
They tell e(eryone. 5aurie calls her mother in 1eno, 'lan calls his
parents in Virginia. 0race takes 5aurie out for lunch to celebrate. 5aurie
has been helping set up 0race's new blog)0race's husband, Hal,
works in commercial real estate, but he's taking a sabbatical year to
stay home with =milie, their two7year7old daughter. Hal has gi(en
0race workspace at his oAce in Van /uys, a beautiful old building from
the 'HFs that was scheduled for demolition until a group of
preser(ationists fought to sa(e it. 0race worked in the print maga6ine
business for years and is an$ious to take a leap into cyberworld. Her
blog will be a guide to ;nding unknown treasures 9cheap day spas,
unusual museums, etc.: in the !an -ernando Valley. 0race wants to call
it Valley 0ems.
!ounds like a 8ewelry store, 5aurie says. They are eating in a small
2talian cafe on a busy street 8ust o< Van /uys Boule(ard near Hal's
oAce. The food is good, but 0race hasn't decided if the restaurant will
make it on the site. Too much traAc, 0race complains.
But the pesto's ama6ing, 5aurie says, winding linguine around her
fork.
=n8oy it now. Because once morning sickness kicks in, you'll want to
die. "hen 2 was pregnant with =milie, 2 was sick for nine months.
2 don't belie(e you. 5aurie's linguine is co(ered with oli(e oil, garlic,
and basil. How could that e(er taste bad&
1emember your worst hango(er in college& !ick like that. *uking, dry
hea(es. That Iby the second trimester you'll be ;ne' thing& Total crap.
"ait and see. 're you sure you don't like Valley 0ems&
Hate it.
#ou could work with me full time, 0race says.
*art time. !ince college, 5aurie has worked in *1 but was transitioned
9about to be laid o<: from her last 8ob a year ago. !ince then she's
done freelance tra(el writing, and she's not ready for nine to ;(e
again, especially with a baby on the way.
Hidden Valley, 0race announces. Better than Valley 0ems&
Hidden Valley is a salad dressing.
2 like Hidden Valley, 0race says. Because that's what it's about)
places you might dri(e by e(ery day, but you'(e ne(er noticed them
before. 5ike this restaurant. "hich is great, e$cept for the honking cars
and e$haust fumes.
0race hands 5aurie a gift bag wrapped with a gau6y ribbon. 2t's really
more of a present for after the baby. 5aurie pulls out a pair of neon7
colored margarita glasses.
They're cute, thanks, 5aurie says. But how am 2 going to sur(i(e
nine months without margaritas&
2'm not kidding about morning sickness. =(en if it were medically safe
to drink when you're pregnant, you won't want to. The thought of
tequila will make you (omit.
5aurie wipes the bottom of the bowl with her bread to get the last bits
of pesto. !he's not worried. 0race e$aggerates e(erything.
"hen morning sickness arri(es, it's not 0race's (iolent (omiting dry
hea(e scenario, but HDBJ nausea isn't 5aurie's idea of a good time. .ne
of her pregnancy books suggests eating saltine crackers as a possible
solution.
't dinner, 'lan presents her with crackers on a small plate. #um, he
says. 5aurie wants to punch him. !he had to lea(e the kitchen last
night when he microwa(ed lefto(er pi66a. The smell of sausage and
cheese made her woo6y, and she could hear the acid bubbling in her
stomach.
!he picks up a cracker. 2t looks gigantic, although not as gigantic as the
torpedo7si6ed prenatal (itamins Dr. 5iu wants her to take. They're not
so bad, 'lan says.
Then you try one.
'lan shakes his head, as if taking a prenatal (itamin will make him
grow breasts.
!he is looking at the cracker in her palm.
2t smells, she says to 'lan.
,rackers don't smell.
Troppo is star(ing. 2f she doesn't eat this cracker, his brain won't
de(elop and he'll ne(er get into an 2(y 5eague school.
!he nibbles the corner. Her mouth feels full, as if it's stu<ed with paper.
+aybe 2 could put a little margarine on it, 'lan says.
5aurie shakes her head. +argarine would push her o(er the edge. Half
a cracker, she might be able to manage that. !he'll do it for Troppo.
!he takes another bite, more aggressi(ely this time. The cracker sits
on her tongue like ;ngernail clippings. !he takes a sip of water)e(en
water tastes funny these days. 2n her mouth, the water turns the
cracker to the consistency of spackle. !he wills the muscles in her
throat to do their 8ob and the soggy, disgusting mess doesn't e$actly
slide down her esophagus, but it lurches as it begins the long 8ourney
to 5aurie's roiling stomach.
0ood girl, only two thirds of the cracker to go, says 'lan.
"eeks pass, and on mornings when she doesn't feel like throwing up,
5aurie goes into 0race's oAce. 0race tacks a pregnancy calendar
abo(e 5aurie's desk. !o you can mark o< the days, she says. "hen
5aurie stays home, 0race emails her pregnancy tips and things to
watch out for. -or e$ample, if seafood is polluted with mercury, it can
harm a baby's brain and ner(ous system. The coating on nonstick
cookware might %ake o< and release to$ic gasses.
's they're planning the Hidden Valley format 9Blog, -acebook,
e(entually print, is 0race's master plan:, 5aurie asks about 0race's
pregnancy. =milie is a whoops baby, 0race says. "e thought we'd
wait another year to start a family, but@ whoops.
!o were you scared& 5aurie wants to know.
2t was surprise, but a bigger surprise at how happy we were. 'nd now
Hal wanting to take a year o< to be home with her)2 think that's
ama6ing. 2t's so good for them, fatherBdaughter bonding. 'lan will
make a great dad too.
#eah. 5aurie came home from the oAce the other day to ;nd 'lan
had gotten Thai takeout and a DVD of Dumbo. They watched Dumbo
after dinner and both of them cried when Dumbo's mother sings Baby
+ine to her child while she's locked up behind bars. 'lan says he isn't
really crying)he has something in his eye. But 5aurie doesn't belie(e
him.
"e planned Troppo, so it's not a surprise, 5aurie says to 0race.
'nd is it what you thought it would be&
2 don't lo(e the nausea. But e(erything else@ 2 don't know. 2 e$pected
8oy, but this is a ridiculous amount of 8oy. !he laughs. 2 sound insane.
#ou sound like a new mom. 0race looks serious. #ou're not going
outside on smoggy days, are you& ,heck the pollution le(els ;rst.
5aurie talks to Troppo all the time. !he's standing in his bedroom and
facing the doorframe. This is where we'll measure you on your
birthday. 1ight here, she tells him. !he sees herself carefully drawing
a line and printing the date. 5ook how big you are, Troppo. How did
you get so big&
0rowing like a weed, 'lan will say, and Troppo will look up at his
parents, grinning. The lines will grow higher and higher on the
doorframe and one day)surpriseK)he'll be taller than 5aurie.
=(en though she calls him Troppo, the baby's room has a unise$ decor.
They decided on yellow paint and a colorful alphabet trim on the wall
8ust below the ceiling. ' is for 'lligator. B is for Bird. The *ython
wrapped around the letter * seems (aguely sinister)To make sure the
baby won't grow up afraid of snakes, 'lan says.
1eally& !uppose the baby gets some terrible snake phobia&
Then we'll buy real snakes. 2sn't that what you do with phobias&
,onfront them&
But maybe we don't know how to ha(e a baby, 5aurie says as she
looks at the almost7assembled crib, the alphabet border, the freshly
painted walls. =ight weeks pregnant and her maternal instinct
con;dence seems to come and go. 'nd it's not like riding a bike. 2t's
like@ building a particle accelerator. "ith L7tips.
/o going back. "e'(e waited long enough.
He's not wrong, 5aurie thinks. They'(e been married for almost ;(e
years. /o children right away)5aurie's 8ob meant lots of tra(el and
'lan tra(eled for his 8ob too, including to help organi6e a new branch of
his company, *almer7Boone, in !ydney. -riends told them they should
tra(el now, pre7children. They listened to the ad(ice, took ad(antage of
5aurie's 8ob, en8oyed ri(er cruises down the Volga, glacier trips in
'laska. !cuba di(ing in the 0reat Barrier 1eef, courtesy of *almer7
Boone.
'lan, the ideal tra(el companion. They ha(e fabulous ad(entures. 'nd
then one day, they looked at each other and that was it. Time for a
baby.
/ow they're decorating a baby's room and putting together a crib.
#ears from now, in this room, 5aurie will tell fourteen7year7old Troppo to
pick up his clothes and he'll roll his eyes and say, #eah, yeah. 2'll get
around to it, +om.
+om. That's who she is. 'lan is right4 there's no going back.
#ou'll hear the heartbeat for the ;rst time, 0race tells her. 'lan
should go with you, it's (ery cool. But *almer7Boone is ha(ing a
power breakfast to welcome (isiting V2*s from *almer7Boone 0reat
Britain, so 5aurie arri(es solo at her doctor's appointment.
Dr. 5iu is in a good mood, (ery chatty, and 5aurie wonders what it's like
for +rs. 5iu, thinking about her husband rubbing gel on women's
stomachs and looking in their (aginas all day.
"e should hear the heartbeat, right& 5aurie asks Dr. 5iu as he slides
the ultrasound paddle across her tummy.
"ho's the doctor, you or me& He's grinning as he maneu(ers the
paddle. The machine makes a thunk thunk sound, slightly wet.
2 (ote for you. 2'd make a horrible doctor. 'nd 2 look terrible in white,
says 5aurie. Dr. 5iu mo(es the paddle to another spot. Thunk thunk.
How loud will the heartbeat be&
Dr. 5iu frowns, taps the end of the paddle. 5et me try another one, this
one's acting a little funky.
.f course ultrasound machines go funky. !o it's not unusual for Dr. 5iu
to lea(e the room to bring in another machine. 2t must happen all the
time.
.nly 5aurie knows, deep down, not e(en deep down, she knows right
there on the surface that Dr. 5iu won't ;nd a heartbeat4 it isn't a broken
ultrasound machine. !omething has gone wrong4 it's bad news, the
worst possible news.
'nd it is. ' second machine con;rms what Dr. 5iu suspected)no
heartbeat. ' blighted o(um, Dr. 5iu e$plains, his face serious. /o
dimples this time. The fertili6ed egg attached itself to the wall of the
uterus and began to de(elop a placenta, but there is nothing inside. /o
embryo. /o baby.
/o Troppo.

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