“Dr. Fuller, can we have a minute, please?” Joel asked. “This is a big choice that we need to make, and I think my wife and I need to talk about this alone.”
Joel fought the desire to emphasize the words we, and alone. He didn’t want Winnie to think he was trying to take away her freedom of choice, but this was kind of a big deal to him. They had miraculously created life inside her body and that wasn’t something to dismiss as merely a medical choice.
“Take as much time as you need,” Barbara said with a curt tone. She pursed her lips and snapped her laptop shut, rose from her desk and pulled the door closed on her way out.
“Winnie, I want us to give this baby a chance to live.” Joel dropped to his knees beside her chair and gently reached his hand out to place it on her flat stomach. There was no outward sign of life, and she wouldn’t have felt any maternal fluttering yet. If anything, she probably felt horrible. Her already ravaged body was now nauseated and tired. Her mind racing with all possible scenarios. Her hormones and emotions were likely on a roller coaster ride.
“It’s not really a baby, yet Joel.” Winnie placed her hand over his. “It’s probably the size of a peanut.”
“A peanut with a spinal column and possibly a heartbeat,” Joel said. “And maybe even a little soul, or spirit, or whatever it’s called. That little spirit chose your body as a place to live for nine months.”
“If it stays in there nine months,” Winnie said, pulling his hand away from her abdomen but not letting go. “I might not even be able to carry a baby.”
“Don’t we owe nature a chance to work?” Joel asked. “If the baby is not meant to live, then you’ll have a miscarriage. But I find it hard to believe that a baby would go to so much trouble to form inside you if that baby was not meant to live.”
“People have miscarriages all the time, Joel. Not all babies that are created are meant to live.”
“I just think that it’s not our choice to decide if the baby should live or not live.”
“This wasn’t exactly a planned pregnancy,” Winnie said.
“No such thing as an accidental pregnancy,” Joel said. “You either have sex, or you don’t. And if you have sex, there’s always the chance you could get pregnant.”
“When did you become so philosophical?” Winnie brushed Joel’s hair off his forehead and met his gaze. “Do you really want to have a baby?”
“Doesn’t matter what I want. We’re pregnant. We have a baby. There is a baby inside of your body, created using my body. We have created a baby.”
“But do you want a baby?” Winnie asked more pointedly. “Like if I had asked you yesterday, ‘Hey, sweetie, do you want to have a baby?’ what would you have said?”
“I would have said, ‘Yes, whenever you’re ready.’”
“Joel… I’m not ready.”
Joel’s heart sunk into his stomach, and he sat back on his heels, shocked. He didn’t know what to say, what to think. He stared at his wife’s midsection, where his baby was growing and developing, cells splitting and dividing and specializing and becoming tissues and organs, a little heart was in there somewhere, maybe even beating a tiny little rhythmic flutter. Maybe if they did an ultrasound, they’d be able to hear a heartbeat.
“Joel, talk to me.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say. Do you want me to beg? To try to change your mind?”
“I don’t know…”
“Do you want me to give you some sort of permission, or my blessing? To sit back and say, ‘It’s your body. You can do what you want with it?’ Because I’m never going to say that. That baby is half mine. He or she may be growing inside your body, but our baby was created using my body too. I love you. And I already love that little peanut sized baby we created.”
“It’s not a baby yet, Joel. It’s an embryo.”
Joel was tired of arguing. He was going to need to haul out the big guns. He didn’t want to have to take this drastic of a step, but she was leaving him no choice. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket, dialed his mom’s phone number and put it on speaker phone.
When she answered, Joel used his most excited voice to tell her, “Guess what, Mom! Winnie’s pregnant! You’re going to be a grandma!”