As a child, I believed that only so much bad could happen in a lifetime. In fact, at the age of six, I had naively convinced myself that my mom would never die, because my dad had already died. I was sure life was an arranged system of checks and balances, and that a person only had to suffer so much before it was the next person's turn to experience misery. In my mind, life offered an equal serving of happiness and misfortune to each person, and I was relieved that I had experienced most of my misfortune by the age of five, because that meant that the rest of my life was going to be sunshine and lollipops.
Unfortunately, this naivety followed me into adulthood...until my nineteen week ultrasound.
I remember being so excited to find out the gender of what we affectionately referred to as "Baby C," and yet, at the same time, a part of me was worried that something may be wrong. As I climbed up onto the exam table, I reassured myself that I had already experienced my hardships. I told myself that everything would be fine.
In the dark room, the tech began her work. She showed me the heart. She said that she always looks at the heart first to make sure a heartbeat is present, and sure enough there was a beautiful heartbeat. I sighed a deep sigh of relief.
The tech continued to take pictures, I watched and smiled and chatted contently. When she said "Baby C" was a girl, we all celebrated, with the exception of Laila, who desperately wanted a brother.
As we waited for the doctor, we tried our best to convince Laila how awesome a sister is. We told her about the fact that they would be each other's best friends, and share clothes, and paint one another's nails, and have slumber parties together. And in between our attempts to persuade Laila, my mind excitedly planned matching outfits and hair bows and baby bedding and names.
When my name was finally called to meet with the doctor, these pleasant and promising thoughts continued to dance through my mind.
And when the doctor told me that my unborn daughter had bilateral cysts on her brain, the dancing stopped. Time stopped. My heart stopped.
I heard "brain" and "cysts" and "level two ultrasound." I heard "Saint Mary's Hospital" and "make an appointment as soon as possible." I heard my dreams crashing around me.
Somehow, I managed to walk out of the hospital. Somehow I found a way not to cry. And somehow I found my car.
I sat frozen and unable to drive.
This was the first of many times, that I bawled my eyes out inside of that car. This was the first of many times, that I yelled at God. That I quickly apologized. That I tried to make a deal.
This was the first time that I realized life does not care about what you have experienced in the past. It is focused on the present. Equality is not the name of the game.
And for the first time, sobbing in a silver Sentra, in the middle of a hospital parking lot, surrounded by cars and people and life, I was not sure of what I believed in.