Only One

“Valerie, the doctor will see you now,” the nurse says to me. I get up, back and legs aching, and follow her through a door and into an examination room. I remove my clothes but keep on my underwear. My swollen belly sticks out like a sore thumb. I slip on the gown the nurse hands me. She smiles and says, “The doctor will be with you shortly.” Then she leaves. I wait, sitting on the cold, hard examination bed. After a few minutes, the doctor walks in.

“Hello, Valerie. How are you?”

“Okay,” I reply. The truth is, I’m not okay. My back, legs, and chest hurt like hell. The baby has been kicking and rolling more than ever, and the morning sickness sucks. I roll up the gown to my chest so the doctor can look at my belly. The doctor spreads a cool gel on my stomach. He moves an ultrasound wand over it and looks at a monitor. I watch his face as he studies it. Slowly, his brow furrows. Looking slightly concerned, he says,

“I will be right back.” He quickly exits. I stare at the ceiling. Something is definitely wrong. My insides begin to churn. A few minutes later, the doctor comes in. He walks over to me, a sad look on his face. He gently lays a hand on my arm. “Valerie, you have a big decision to make. Only you or the baby can survive. Not both.” I stare at him, stunned. How am I supposed to choose between my life and my child’s? Tears slide down my cheeks.

“Give me a minute,” I choke. He does. I sob into my hands. Only one can live. My husband is at home, blissfully unaware. Somewhere, deep down, I know what I have to do. The doctor knocks softly. “Come in,” I say wearily. “I made my decision.” I point to my stomach. The doctor nods. He begins hooking up various machines to electrodes and placing them on my stomach. He hooks up an IV to my arm.

“For if you change your mind.” I nod, but I know I won’t. He grabs a needle from his pocket, flicked it, and lined it up with a vein on my neck. He asks, “Are you ready?” I nod again, unable to speak. He inserts the needle and pushes the plunger. I feel a sharp pain and black out. I wake up. My husband is snoring next to me. I rub my belly in small circles. I am okay. My unborn baby is okay. Everything is okay. I smile and go back to sleep.





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