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They came bustling along the passage. Then the door sprang open and in they came, fresh as roses, staring, wide awake, as if this coming into the dining room after breakfast, which they did every day of their lives, was a positive event to them, and so on, with one thing after another, all day long, until she went up to say good-night to them, and found them netted in their cots like birds among cherries and raspberries, still making up stories…. It’s after eleven before Dr. M returns with the embryologist, a woman in her fifties with shoulder-length gray-blonde hair and a tan I associate with a habit of being out of doors. I imagine her as a gardener, a runner, someone given to long walks. This feels like a good sign. “The embryos are beautiful,” she tells me, “like tiny spheres.” I glance at the image again, struck once more by their crystalline quality. The embryos continue to spark the connection with tiny planets, and I think of the ceiling of my daughter’s room covered with a miniature reproduction of the solar system. In three days, I can tuck Sophie in to sleep and stare up at the planets and glowing stars, her head resting against my own. After I swallow the requisite Valium, I lie back on the couch, Guan Yin snug against my palm. The embryologist guides the ultrasound wand inside, looks deep within my uterus. “Do you have children?” I hear myself ask. “A son and a daughter.” Cam and James. Sophie and—, I find myself thinking. “What’s your son’s name?” I ask her. “Wolfgang,” she says. “We call him ‘Wolfy.’” My parents are Eastern European so the name is familiar enough, though I can’t imagine that name going over well with the Trays, Travises, and Tuckers of west Texas. “Are you German?” “My husband is Czech.” “Dr. C’s husband is head of the practice,” Dr. M says, and then it hits me. Her husband is one of the pioneers of in vitro fertilization using a donor’s eggs. Another good sign. A small window in the room opens, and a thirty-ish woman in blue scrubs peers out. I am reminded of the little man, the Gatekeeper, in Oz. “This is where the embryos are,” the embryologist explains. “After Dr. M does the test run, she’ll place them into the catheter.” The test run involves guiding the catheter into the uterus, then 2

Sampled The Examined Life Journal Issue 5.2