Erica took her outstretched hand from the examining table where she sat. “Yes, and this is my husband, Blake.”

“Wonderful to meet you, Blake. Congratulations to you both. You must be thrilled.”

She smiled warmly, but concern lodged in my gut. I nodded quickly, my jaw tight. All my uneducated fantasies about parenthood were swiftly placed on pause when I remembered the risks, the dangers, and the very real possibility that all those dreams could be crushed by the woman standing in front of me. Erica was legitimately pregnant. Keeping it that way was another matter, and though I’d never voiced my doubt before, Erica’s concerns echoed my own.

Life hung in the balance, and my powerlessness over that fact had me instantly uneasy.

“I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to review Erica’s records—” I began.

The doctor sat on her stool and glanced over at me. “I have actually. They were faxed over this morning.”

“So you’re aware of the injuries she sustained.”

“Yes.” Her chipper expression dimmed a bit. Her attention slid to Erica, whose expression mirrored hers. “I imagine what you’ve been through was nothing short of devastating. I’ll be honest. I’m actually quite surprised that you’ve been able to conceive so quickly.”

“So were we,” Erica said, her voice quiet.

“But here you are.” Dr. Henneman brightened again. “And I can tell you that the labs that came back look great. Your hormone levels are where they should be, so my plan today is to do an ultrasound and hopefully we can get you a due date.”

Before I could pepper the doctor with more questions, she had Erica lay back on the table. She dimmed the lights and a couple minutes later, the fuzzy gray screen on the ultrasound machine came to life. I held Erica’s hand, sharing the comfort of someone else who was experiencing this for the first time and having no idea what to expect. Math, science, the technical details of anything were always well within my grasp. But there was nothing technical about the little orb on the screen and the tiny flicker at its center.

“That’s your baby,” the doctor said, pointing to the fuzzy oval.

Erica’s hand tightened in mine. I brought it to my lips, kissing it, never taking my eyes from the screen. A torrent of strange emotions swept over me, feelings that had no name, no frame of reference. All I knew was that everything was changing. Right before our eyes, the whole world had taken on new meaning. The doctor carried on with her examination, zeroing in on the tiny heartbeat. My own heart thumped loudly in my ears when she gave the rhythm sound.

After a few more overwhelming minutes, the doctor gave us a due date for early July. Erica was seven weeks along, and I quickly calculated the date of conception back to our wedding night.

Wow. I smiled and silently patted myself on the back. But I still couldn’t shake my worry.

The doctor printed out some ultrasound photos and handed them to me while Erica cleaned up.

“Is that it, then?” I hesitated, not sure how to broach any one of the hundred questions running through my head, all surrounding Erica’s health and history.

The doctor smiled warmly. “For now, yes. Everything looks great.”

“You’re optimistic.”

She laughed. “Would you rather I not be?”

“I prefer realistic over anything. What happened to Erica was very serious. It’s been weighing on us.”

She offered a sympathetic smile. “I understand, more than you know. I specialize in high-risk pregnancies, so I meet a lot of parents who are expecting the worst. Your concerns are valid, but Erica is healthy and I’m hopeful.”

I paused, brushing my thumb over the edge of the picture. I wanted to believe all of it. I truly did. “Have you treated anyone with comparable . . . issues?”

She nodded. “I have treated couples facing some very discouraging odds when it comes to conception. I’ve seen many overcome those odds, and I’ve seen some who haven’t been able to. You’re very lucky.”

“What would you say the chances are that she’ll have a normal pregnancy?”

One glance at Erica and I wanted to flog myself for asking when I read the trepidation in her eyes.

I shifted my attention back to the doctor and her expression was no longer sympathetic, but more serious. “Right now, I would say they are one hundred percent until I see something of concern.”

Somewhere tension released.

The doctor tilted her head. “Have faith, Blake. Don’t fret away this special time with worry. Everything looks wonderful so far. Come see me in a month and I hope to put your concerns to rest all over again. We’ll do this every month, and toward the end, every couple weeks. And I will be here every step of the way to answer questions and alleviate any concerns you may have.”

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