Authors: Lauren Weisberger
Karolina pressed her hand to her forehead and appeared momentarily contrite. She sat down next to Emily on the bed. “I knowâI am sensingâthis is not what you wanted. But itÂ .Â .Â . it doesn't have to be a bad thing.”
“Please. Just stop. I'd like to go back to bed now.” Emily studied her hands as though they were fascinating parchments.
“And I'll make an appointment for first thing tomorrow.”
“A waste of everyone's time.”
Karolina paused before leaving. But when Emily sneaked a peek a moment later, Karolina was gone and had shut the door behind her.
Emily exhaled. If she were being totally honest, she'd had an inkling for a while now. The question was how long? When had the near-constant queasiness become all-out nausea? When had the once-delicious smell of cigarette smoke started to make her stomach roil? When had her boobs begun to ache in a completely foreign way? When, exactly, had her pants gotten so tight that she'd taken to wearing Lululemons like some suburban-mommy robot? When had a simple spicy tuna roll become revolting? She'd been denying it to herself for weeks already. Possibly longer? Christ, it was hard to say. But tonight, when she'd rooted around under the bathroom sink looking for more hand soap and had hit the motherlode of all pregnancy tests, she figured she'd try one. Just to confirm that this was bad PMS or a virus or something. Food poisoning. At worst, mono. But one had come up positive and the next one had too. Six more after that. Maybe if all the tests were from the same batch, then that particular batch was screwed up in some way?
She reached for the bottle of sleeping pills she kept in her nightstand for emergencies like these and shook a bunch into her palm. She had 5-milligram Ambiens, 5-milligram Belsomras, 2.5-milligram Lunestas. There were over a dozen Ativans, courtesy of her shrink friend in L.A., and half as many Xanaxes she'd scored from a kindly old lady she'd sat next to on her last flight. Even a few stragglers of Valium, which she still considered the gold standard of excellence despite their being hopelessly out of fashion. When life got particularly stressful and it was more than a cocktail could handle, this bottle of magic pills was her only salvation. Eagerly, she sorted and counted and debated the pros and cons of each: fun high but hangover the next morning versus straight-to-bed boredom but no dry mouth. She decided on Ambien, her trusty old friend, and was uncapping a bottle of water when a gruesome image popped into her head: a cute little baby face and torso with no arms or legs, wailing like crazy, wearing a look that said,
You did this to me
. Emily tried to shake it off, to tell herself it was ridiculous, that heroin
addicts gave birth to babies with arms and legs every single day and one little Ambien wouldn't make a lick of difference, but try as she might, the image stuck.
“Fuck,” she said, carefully pouring the handful of pills back into the bottle, securing the childproof lid, and then promptly throwing it against the wall. She turned the lights off and pulled the pillow over her face. This was going to be a very long night.
Â Â â¢Â Â â¢Â Â â¢Â Â
r. Werner pressed, not gently, from inside Emily with one hand and looked skyward, as though deep in concentration, like an intrepid explorer working her way through a pitch-black cave.
“I can venture a guess. I'd say close to sixteen weeks, give or take. But we'll do an ultrasound next, and that will give me a much better idea.” The doctor removed her hand from Emily, snapped off her glove, and jotted some notes on a chart.
Miriam squealed. “Sixteen weeks? Oh my God, that's, like, real. Like, four months along! Like, almost halfway there!”
“Can you stop that, please?” Emily snapped at her. Her heart had just done some sort of flip-flop thing, and she was trying to figure out if it was nerves or excitement or morning sickness.
“Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just
so excited for you
Emily glared at her. “You're here right now because Karolina couldn't keep her shit together in an OB's office. What I could really use right now is some
Dr. Werner was pretending that she didn't hear them, but Emily could see she was trying to suppress a smile.
“Okay, Emily, this will only take a minute,” the doctor said, encasing a white wand in a condom and squirting clear goo over the top. She
dimmed the lights, pulled a screen on a rolling pedestal closer to Emily's exam table, and inserted the wand.
Emily held her breath. It didn't hurt. She could barely feel anything, actually. But this was what would make everything real. Up until now, it could all be explained. The dozen home-pregnancy tests. The positive urine dip at the office this morning. The pelvic exam. All vulnerable to error or at least interpretation. But seeing a little embryo on a screen where one wasn't beforeâhearing that embryo's heartbeatâwell, that was a bit harder to deny.
“Emily, I'd like you to look right here.” Dr. Werner pointed at a black blob on the screen. It lolled about like a jellyfish afloat in rough water.
The sound of a horse stampeding filled the room.
“What's that?” Emily asked, alarmed.
“Sorry, that was turned up really high.” Dr. Werner turned a switch, and the horse stampede sounded a whole lot more like a very fast heartbeat. “You are looking at a healthy pregnancy, Emily.” She moved the wand around more and used the keyboard to mark and measure the image on the screen. “I was close. You're measuring at fifteen weeks and two days. Would you like to know the gender?”
“No!” Miriam shouted before clamping a hand over her mouth. “Sorry. I just think it's so great to be surprised. There aren't many true surprises left in life, and I loved not knowing with any ofâ”
“Dr. Werner?” Emily asked sweetly in a voice loud enough to drown out Miriam. “Being that it's my body and my baby and my decision, I would like to know the gender.”
The doctor moved the wand to the far left, enough to give Emily a small jolt, and pointed again. “You see? Right there. A girl. You're going to have a girl.”
“Oh my God. A girl? For real?” The words had tumbled out before Emily could stop herself. Already she'd been feeling woozy from uttering the phrase “my baby,” but this was almost too much to handle. There was an actual girl baby inside of her? That had a beating
heart and a growing body and would turn into a real, live human if she allowed it?
“I can't say with a hundred percent certainty until the blood test is back, but yes, I'd say that's clearly a girl.”
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.” Emily just kept repeating it over and over, unwilling or unable to say anything else. When she finally remembered that Miriam was there too, and she twisted her head around to find her friend over her shoulder, Emily shouldn't have been surprised to see Miriam crying.
“Sorry,” Miriam wailed, wiping at her face. “I'm so sorry. This is your moment. I'm supposed to be the calm one, I know. But I'm just so happy for you. A baby girl! What's better than that?”
The doctor closed Emily's file and opened the door. “Congratulations. Why don't you get dressed and then we can meet in my office to discuss everything, okay?”
“Okay,” Emily said, but it sounded like a squeak.
As soon as the door closed, Miriam nearly threw herself on the table. She whipped out her phone and began typing furiously.
“What the hell are you doing? You're not telling anyone, are you?” Emily asked. She hadn't even told Miles yet.
“Of course not. Wait, hold on a sec. There. I have it. The due-date calculator. If it's August twenty-eighth today and you really are fifteen weeks and two days pregnant, that means your baby is dueÂ .Â .Â . February twentieth!”
“February? As in the dead of winter? The darkest month of the year? It's even depressing in L.A. then! I don't want her birthday to be February!”
With this, Miriam belly-laughed. “You're crazy beyond comprehension. But I'm still happy for you.”
Emily jumped up, feeling newly energized, and pulled on her underwear and jeans.
Miriam watched her. “Get ready to throw out all your thongs. And your sexy bras. All your lingerie, pretty much. Think cotton and stretch.
Elastic waistbands. Eating as much ice cream as you can shove down your gullet without feeling even a twinge of guilt. My God, I'm so jealous right now.”
Emily made a gagging sound. “There is precisely zero percent chance of any of that happening.” Only fifteen weeks in, and already she'd had to force herself into jeans this morning when all she'd really wanted was to pull on her most indulgent stretch Lulu leggings.
“I have to call Miles. Oh my God, I am literally going to make his life with this news right now.”
“Will he be even happier than you?”
“I'm not happy!” Emily said automatically. She tried desperately to look bitchyâusually something that came so naturally to herâbut she couldn't keep the smile off her face.
“See? I knew it! I knew you'd be thrilled when you got the official confirmation. Karolina said you were a delusional wreck and that you were going to throw yourself off a building if it were true, but I
that wasn't the case.”
Emily glanced at her watch. “What are you doing for the next hour?” she asked Miriam.
“Me? Nothing. Well, actually, I was going to go to my new officeâ”
“Mmm-hmm. Interesting. But today's about me. After the doctor gives us my list of dos and don'ts, will you come with me somewhere?”
“Of course. Anywhere. Carvel? Dairy Queen? McDonald's? Let's get the party started!”
Emily looked at Miriam with disgust. She held up her hand. “Stop.”
“What else can you do for fun when you're pregnant besides eat? No drinking, no smoking, no drugs. No vigorous exercise, not that I ever minded that restriction. No crazy sex. Again not really a problem for me. But it doesn't leave a whole lot,” Miriam said.
“I can still shop,” Emily said, tossing her Goyard over her shoulder. “We're going to Bergdorf. To buy a very miniature, very expensive, extremely impractical fur ChloÃ© vest. In an infant size. Are you in?”
Miriam beamed. “I'm in.”
iriam gazed out over the river from her desk in her new office and smiled to herself. It was mid-November, and even though the leaves had finally fallen and there were nighttime frosts, this day was gloriously sunny and warm. She was just about to meet Ashley for lunch at the salad place downstairs when her office phone rang.
“Miriam Kagan,” she said, pleased by her professional tone. It had been only a few months since she'd settled into her new office and taken on new legal work, and she was surprised by how much she was enjoying it.
“Um. Hello. May I please speak withÂ .Â .Â .” There was a pause as the male voice sounded like he might be reading something. “Miriam Kagan?” He pronounced Kagan like “Ka-GAHN.”
“This is she. Who, may I ask, is calling?”
“Hi. This is Officer Lewis from the BPD. The Bethesda Police Department, that is.”
“Officer Lewis, how kind of you to return my call,” Miriam said, although she wasn't hopeful that the call would be any different from the dozen or so she'd already made and received. Through the Freedom of Information Act and a few well-placed lawyer friendsâand fine, she'd admit it, her highly tuned Facebook-stalking skillsâMiriam had pieced together a near-complete list of the officers who had been on duty the night Karolina was arrested. She'd left dozens of messages over two months' time. She'd spoken to nearly all of them by phone, when they chose to call her back, and not a single one had anything illuminating to say. Yes, they remembered Karolina spending the night in the holding cell. Why wouldn't they? It wasn't every night you got a former Victoria's Secret Angelâor, depending on your area of interest, a current senator's wifeâin jail. Yes, they knew at the time that she was being held for driving under the influence. A few of them remembered seeing Harry and his friends and then Elaine, when she'd come to pick them up, but others did not. No matter. Not a single officer had anything to say that was different from what had been shared in the papers: namely that Karolina was brought in drunk, semi-hysterical, and refused at first a Breathalyzer and then a blood test. They all assumed one was administered after a court order was obtained, as would have been standard procedure, but none of them would swear to it.
“You're welcome. And I know I said I was calling from the BPD, but I retired last month. Really to join my father's business, since he's been ill. But legally speaking or whatever, you should probably know that I'm no longer a member of the force.”
“Okay,” Miriam said. “That's fine.”
Officer Lewis cleared his throat. “Yes, thank you. Anyway, I feel terrible that I didn't tell someone this earlier, but it would have beenÂ .Â .Â . complicated. With my superiors and all.”
Miriam inhaled sharply and hoped the ex-cop couldn't hear her excitement. “Okay,” she said, stretching out the word as soothingly as she could.
“Are we off the record?”
“Well, I read all over the news that Mrs. Hartwell refused various sobriety tests. And that is not my recollection from that night. It was the very opposite, in fact.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, ma'am. She asked repeatedly to be administered a Breathalyzer. Begged, in fact.”
“She did?” Miriam asked, although this was exactly what Karolina had been claiming all along.
“Yes, ma'am. Multiple times.”
“And you're sure of this?”