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IV. “So, do you feel any different yet?” Lian asks on the eve of my first blood test. “I think so,” I reply, reluctant to describe the fatigue so intense I would climb into bed at eight if it weren’t for the ritual of bedtime stories with Sophie, one that usually lasts until nine thirty—“Just one more story, Mama,” being her inevitable refrain. … My relationships with the extensive staff in Dr. M’s L. A. office are virtually non-existent, my communications being primarily with Dr. M via cell phone after office hours; but the nurses in Dr. Phillips’ Lubbock office are all excited to see me when I arrive on Friday morning for my first blood test. “We’re rooting for you,” Sara, the office manager, says. “I had so much trouble conceiving my own daughter, I feel I’m meant to be here,” says Jenna, the receptionist. “I hope this happens for you.” “So this is the big day. How exciting!” Dr. Phillips says, bustling past, her unflappable smile limned in pink. If a group of women could will a pregnancy into being, this group would be it. “Call me on my cell phone when you have the lab result?” I say to Kathleen, the nurse who draws my blood. “I’m sorry,” she says. “This time the results will have to come from Dr. M.” I resist the impulse to keep my cell phone on during three hours of departmental meetings, but in the end it’s after five before a nurse named Terri, who I’ve never met, telephones. “Okay,” I say, walking outside and sitting down at the edge of a garden bed where the skeletons of last summer’s sunflowers linger, their gray stalks made beautiful by the pair of cardinals that often perch there. “I’m ready.” “Well, it isn’t clear,” she says. “It says ‘some detected.’ This is a very early test, though we’d like to have a better reading.” I squeeze my hands into fists. “Another chemical pregnancy?” “Probably—I’m sorry. You still need to keep taking the medicine until Sunday, though. There have been cases where this situation turns itself around.” I linger for a moment, as if some further wisdom might be forthcoming. What does it mean then? What can it all mean? “When Dr. M comes in, I’ll talk to him,” she says. “Maybe he’ll have some more information.” 5

Sampled The Examined Life Journal Issue 5.2