Wrote this post in the car yesterday on the way home from a weekend of travel.
Larry’s great uncle turned 83 this year. He had read somewhere that the Biblical lifespan was 70 years, he decided to re-bar mitzvah at 83, since he figured it was like starting all over again. This weekend, easily over 100 people gathered at the temple for Havdalah services, our 83-year old family member and friend standing on the bimah to once again to reaffirm his covenant with G-d.
We arrived at the synagogue a little before five Saturday night. My heels clicked loudly in the cavernous atrium as we waited to head into the sanctuary. I stood there, chatting with Larry and his family, noticing his older cousin out of the corner of my eye, walking in with his wife and daughter. After briefly chatting with Larry’s parents, he came right over to us.
We exchanged simple hellos. And then he turned to me, the first I had really seen him in three years, when we gathered at this same synagogue, this same atrium, for a family funeral.
A hug. A kiss on the cheek. Stepping back from me, he exclaimed:
“You look lovely! Where’s the baby?”
I think my mouth must have hung open; I was genuinely gobsmacked. I immediately glared at Larry who managed to get out a “not yet” while I awkwardly stammered out an “eventually” at nearly the exact same moment. Larry’s cousin just smiled and nodded, the obligation of this polite small talk, this rote chit chat painfully obvious. He waltzed away from us and toward another cluster of guests, clearly making the rounds before we went in for services.
As he walked away, I felt my face flush, the familiar pin pricking sensation darting around the waterline of my eyes. I swallowed hard and cracked my neck.
“Really?!” Larry and I said to each other almost instantly after he left.
That’s definitely the first time, in the entire nearly five years we’d been married, we’d ever been so bluntly asked about our family building habits. Usually it’s the standard “Any kids yet?” for those not already in the know about my busted ovary. After a few minutes of his words slamming around in my head, I excused myself to the restroom.
I let the tears well up, come right to the brink. I stifled an audible sob as I heard the bathroom door open, two old bubbes chatting about whatever it is two old bubbes chat about. I grabbed a hefty wad of toilet paper, dabbing quickly at the would-be waterfall so as not to cause my mascara to run. A few deep breaths. Smoothing my dress with my hands.
Exiting the bathroom with my head held high, feet stomping like the fiercest leggy amazon on America’s Next Top Model, heels click-clacking his words right out of my brain.
# # #
“Havdalah,” the rabbi explained, “represents the transition from Shabbat and back to our regular week. It marks a period of separation, of returning to the ‘working’ world after we have concluded our day of rest. Havadalah gives us pause, marking the moment of moving from one part of our week into the next.”
Her words lingered in my mind as the cantor began to recite the various Havdalah blessings: transition, separation, marking the moment of moving from one space and moment in our lives and into the next.
# # #
Just before we left the reception, Larry’s cousin swung back by our table to say the obligatory farewells until the next family gathering. “Good to see you, glad you’re doing well” – the usual.
“Hey, I’m sorry about earlier,” he began. “At the synangogue. I completely got you confused with Jimmy and his wife and their little girl. Sorry about that!”
Jimmy, his wife and their little girl were indeed there, even sitting at our table, their daughter very nearly stealing the spotlight from the bar mitzvah “boy” with all of her adorable 3-year old-ness, doing all the things adorable 3-year olds do.
We said our goodbyes and descending down the stairs, my heels clicking on each marble step.
“Well, that was unexpected,” I said to Larry on our way out. “Sweet, but unexpected.”
“He clearly had no idea,” Larry offered.
“Clearly,” I said. “Oh hang on a sec, let me use just the restroom before we leave.”
As I sat down, I saw the bright red brownish smudge in my underwear. Suddenly the mild cramping and general grumpiness made sense. And then I panicked. “It’s a week early,” I thought, my mind racing through the bevy of emails between me and my doctor’s office while simultaneously trying to calculate dates and medication doses.
# # #
We got back to the hotel, Larry asking me over and over again if I was sure I took my medicine on the right days and in the right order. Finally, I lost it.
“I took all the medication they gave me when I was supposed to take it! I did what I was supposed to do!” I screamed. “I wasn’t supposed to start bleeding until at least Wednesday! My original schedule got all fucked up and now I don’t know if I’ve screwed this up!”
The tears I had suppressed earlier began in force. Between Larry’s doubts, the cramps and the sudden realization that the ball was rolling and there was no stopping it now – it was all too much.
“Where’s the baby,” I thought, as I drifted off to sleep. I slept fitfully, dreaming of blood.
# # #
I groaned when Larry opened the hotel room curtains, the morning sunlight bathing the room in bright light. I was groggy, my throat sore and dry, my pelvis aching. I swallowed hard, my tonsils jostling for dominance against the back of my throat. I hadn’t even put on my glasses and reached for the phone, my finger flicking instinctively to the RE’s number in my “Favorites” list.
I left a message for the nurse’s line. “Hi, this is Keiko Zoll. Here’s my DOB. Calling in to report cycle day 1 and just wanted to double check that my schedule is not all thrown off because I think it’s a week early. Would appreciate a call back. Thanks!”
A couple of hours later as we headed back home, the nurse called back. “I talked to your doc and you’re all set. Don’t worry about it being early, you’ll still all set. You can come in between 6:30 and 8:15am tomorrow morning for your Day 2 bloodwork and ultrasound.”
“Great, thanks so much,” I said, genuinely relieved that no, I hadn’t in fact screwed this up at all.
“Good luck!” the nurse said cheerfully.
“Thanks,” I replied, the weight of everything pressing me deeper into the seat. My pelvis and back ached. I was tired and moody, not having slept well the night before. Sleepily, I posted this on my Facebook page:
Looks like Mission: TZ3 has begun folks.
Here we go.
# # #
Had my CD2 ultrasound and bloodwork this morning. Will post later today with CD2 news as soon as I hear from my RE’s office with results.