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No one had to tell me the ways in which that exponentially complicated things. Jasmine’s gasp confirmed my many realizations.
“Two placentas,” said Veronica, pausing and typing something one-handed while still keeping hold of the paddle.
“What … what’s that mean?” I asked.
“It means they could be identical or fraternal,” said Dr. Sartori. “One placenta would be identical for sure.”
I swallowed. The noise, that wavelike sound … It was drowning me. My heartbeat, another heartbeat, and another still … How was it possible? How could there be so much life in one body?
“Can you still do the test?” I stammered out.
Dr. Sartori was holding the needle but made no moves as his eyes flicked back to the monitor. “I can … but it’s not recommended in this situation. With twins, the risks are increased.”
“I don’t care,” I said firmly. “I still want it. I have to know. With my family history …”
I prayed he wouldn’t demand too many details beyond what Dr. Moore had sent over. He and Veronica discussed a few things, using medical language I couldn’t follow. She used the paddle to check every angle, taking measurements on her computer as he occasionally pointed details out. Finally, after another warning against the procedure, he agreed to do it.
It hurt as much as you’d expect from a giant needle being stuck into you. His hands were superhumanly steady, as his eyes held firm to the monitor so he could watch the needle’s progress. I still couldn’t make out much in the images but knew the challenge was to get to the placenta without touching a fetus. Placentas, in this case. They had to get another test kit, using another needle in order to sample from both babies.
I still couldn’t believe it. They helped me when they finished the test, loading Jasmine and me up with post-care instructions to reduce both self-injury and the risk of miscarriage.
Does it matter? I thought bleakly. A miscarriage would take the decision away from me. It’d be out of my hands.
For now, one tiny problem did present itself: getting home. I was sore and didn’t feel like driving. In fact, I’d been advised not to. Jasmine helpfully offered to.
“I know for a fact you don’t have a license,” I told her. I was leaning against my car, baking in welcome sunshine.
“No, but I can drive. Come on, it’s not that far. And you certainly can’t. What do you want to do? Call Tim and let him know what’s going on?” she challenged.
I wanted my mom, I realized. I wanted my mom to come and drive me home – to her home. I wanted her to take care of me and talk to me like she used to. I wanted her to fix all this.
I blinked rapidly and turned my head, not wanting Jasmine to see me tear up.
“Fine.” I held out the keys. “If we get pulled over, the ticket’s coming out of your allowance.”
To her credit, she drove responsibly, and she was right – it wasn’t far. I tilted my seat back slightly, wanting to sleep for the next few days or however long it would take to get back my results. I didn’t want to endure the waiting. I couldn’t endure the waiting. The car’s silence and rhythm nearly took me under until Jasmine spoke.
“So,” she said matter-of-factly. “If they’re boys, you get an abortion. If they’re girls …”
“Then I don’t.” I hadn’t realized I’d made my decision until that moment. When I’d heard those heartbeats … well, it didn’t matter if motherhood and drastic body changes scared the hell out of me. If I had two daughters, daughters unconnected to any prophecy, I would have them. I’d figure parenting out. “If they’re girls, I’ll keep them.”
She nodded and said nothing more until we were turning down my street. Honestly, I was surprised she waited that long because I’d already known what else she was dying to ask.
“What are you going to do if one’s a boy and one’s a girl?”
I stared ahead at my house. I suddenly didn’t want to sleep just for the next few days. I wanted to sleep for the next nine months. Or seven months. Or whatever. I didn’t answer her question.
“I can’t have a son,” I said at last. “You know that. That’s all there is to it.”
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