Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I do. And the Baby Do, Too. (And, why not to get wrapped up in all of that 1st trimester testing)

The months, weeks and days leading up to my wedding followed a pretty classic trajectory, complete with the mounting chaos prior to the big event that somehow all came together perfectly for the day itself. The little surprise that made it all the more… intense?... for us was that I found out I was pregnant three months into the wedding planning process, and got hitched at three-months knocked up. Some of you can, I’m sure, relate. Having two major life events simultaneously in the making was exhausting, but in many ways may have made everything run a bit more smoothly in that I didn’t have enough energy to be a ‘bridezilla,’ and I had the benefit of a sudden bigger-picture perspective (i.e. there are more important things in life than cake). There was, however, one bump in the road that was, at the time, overwhelming, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.

The day before the wedding, and two hours before the wedding rehearsal (as family and friends rolled into town), I was driving back from picking up extra maple sugar candy wedding favors when a nurse called to give me the update on my pregnancy blood work. No HIV, no STDs of any kind, no this no that.

“Great… Excellent…”, I chirped. I knew this stuff.

Then she said, “You did, however, test positive as a carrier for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.”

I pulled over.

“What the hell is that?”

She told me not to worry, and that the chances of my partner carrying were slim; they just needed to get him in and test him. Could we come in tomorrow?

“I’m getting married tomorrow. I’m in New Hampshire.”

“Can you hold?”

“No, wait! What”—Musak. Endless, excruciating smooth jazz.

I was crying. Whatever it was that she’d said sounded bad, and I was stuck on hold.

When the nurse finally picked up again, she said she felt badly and wanted to put my mind at ease and get us my husband’s results by the end of our honeymoon. She sent us to a lab nearby, where we squandered an hour before they realized they couldn’t take his blood because the lab to which they’d send it was closed for the weekend. My husband was unconcerned, but I was a wreck.

My parents’ house had by this point filled with a crowd of relatives. When we arrived back from the lab, I raced past them and into the bathroom to splash myself with cold water and apply some mascara. My aunt, a nurse practitioner, knocked, and told her what had happened.

She scoffed, “Psh. Don’t worry about that! People have been carrying this genetic stuff for centuries without even knowing it. This business of making babies has gotten excessively thorough. You have nothing to fear. Forget it. Hell, when I was pregnant with Will”—her 16-year-old son—“the doctors told me there was an eighty percent chance he’d be ‘incompatible with life’, that his lungs would collapse and he’d die at birth.”

“Okay, wow.”

“Go out there and get married. Don’t give it another thought.”

I did give it another thought. But as we ran through our ceremony in the pouring rain at the wedding site, and later, at dinner, as a Hibachi chef sprayed Sake into my husband’s mouth from across the table and stove-top, I let it go. I let myself get picked up and carried along by the coming together of those we love for an enormous celebration, a major event in our lives.

It’d rained for weeks, but the day of the wedding was clear and gorgeous. We were married in a garden, at the bottom of some steps overlooking a lawn. Our ceremony was very much our own, and our guests were moved by it. The dinner and the party were just fabulous. I was so moved to be surrounded by this collection of people from every facet of my life, as well as my husband’s parents, relatives, and their friends. My husband and I couldn’t stop grinning at each other. We were married! We danced our first dance to Louis Armstrong crooning “What a wonderful World.” It perfectly captured how I was feeling.

I thought about the blood test here and there throughout our honeymoon (I’m a worrier by nature), but we were relaxing, in love, and musing happily about the baby. The baby felt healthy inside me. I just sensed that it was fine. We found out a few weeks later that my husband is definitively not a carrier of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. During the wedding, though, during the dinner, and the party, and later at the hotel bar with our friends, celebrating into the very early morning, I didn’t drink any Champagne, but I also didn’t think about the baby at all.

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