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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2105225-Natalie-and-Shayne
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Gay/Lesbian · #2105225
Which would you choose? Featured in the {nl:8022}
         From the chair across the desk, Dr. Marin hands her a tissue. The tears have been flowing for a while, but Natalie can't make them stop. She accepts the tissue, wipes her eyes, and sniffles loudly. Black eyeliner streams down her cheeks from her green eyes, her red hair clings to her cheeks, she doesn't care.
         Clearing her throat, she asks, "What are my options?"
         "At this point, the best option is to end the pregnancy and perform surgery. The cancer hasn't spread beyond your uterus, but it will if you don't allow me to do a partial hysterectomy."
         "What's a partial hysterectomy?"
         "I'll remove your uterus, but leave your fallopian tubes and ovaries. Leaving them will make it possible for you to not have to take estrogen replacement hormones. Essentially, your body will believe you haven't reached menopause."
         "So I won't have to have chemo or radiation or any of that. You just take away this child and my ability to have children altogether and that's that."
         "Natalie, no matter what we do at this point, you will not be able to have children. You have uterine cancer. We can explore other options, they will be costly, and there will be no guarantee that you won't need surgery anyway. The other options will be physically debilitating. You'll lose the baby anyway. If you have the surgery, you will be recovered in less than six weeks. You'll have regular check-ups every three months and after a year if there's no sign of cancer you will be in remission."
         "Can I wait until after the baby is born?"
         "Yes, but remember, if you wait the cancer can progress."
         "How far has it progressed now?"
         "Twenty-seven percent of your uterus is affected."
         "If I wait until after the baby is born, how much will be affected?"
         "There's no way to know that for sure. Right now, there's almost seven months left in the pregnancy. You're due in April."
         "Shayne's birthday is in April."
         "You have a great decision to make, Natalie. It needs to be made soon."
         "I can't decide any of this without talking to Shayne first."
         "I understand. When will she be home?"
         "Tonight or tomorrow morning."
         "Talk to her as soon as she gets home. Take the weekend to think about it and call me first thing Monday morning. You can't sit on this, Natalie."
         "I know. I understand. I'll call you Monday morning, first thing."
         Outside Dr. Marin's office, the city looks dull and colorless. Natalie crosses the street to the park and finds a bench under an ash tree, she fumbles in her purse for her phone, and calls Shayne.
         "Hey, how was your appointment?"
         "Are you going to be back tonight?"
         "Yeah, around seven. How was the appointment, Nat?"
         "We need to talk."
         "I don't like the sound of that. What did he say?"
         "I don't want to talk about this on the phone. Can you meet me at Fernando's on Hillside at 7:30?"
         "Yeah. Natalie, whatever it is, we'll deal with it together. We've been through hell, there's nothing that we can't get through together."
         "I know, that's why I'm waiting for you. We'll work it all out. I'll see you at 7:30. I have to go. I love you."
         "I love you."
         The rain starts to fall, Natalie doesn't notice. She sits under the ash tree, staring at a statue of Aphrodite. An elderly gentleman stops to offer her his umbrella, she doesn't hear him. Two teenage girls point and giggle, making comments about the makeup running down her cheeks, her wet hair, her blank stare, but she doesn't hear them. She puts her hand on her stomach and lets the tears fall again.
         When she arrives, Fernando's is packed as usual. Shayne stands by the front door with flowers and a smile. She can't resist smiling back.
         She says, "I'm so glad your back. I've missed your face."
         "I missed your face too. By the looks of it, you didn't get much sleep while I was gone."
         "Do we have a table or are we waiting?"
         "We have a table. Let's go."
         The host sits them near the back of the restaurant. They're favorite seats. It's quieter in the back. Shayne orders a beer and raises her eyebrows when Natalie orders sweet tea.
         "Sweet tea?"
         "Yeah, like you said I haven't slept much since you left. If I drink I'll fall asleep half way through dinner. You'll have to carry me home on your back."
         "So, what did Dr. Marin tell you. You sounded upset earlier."
         Natalie reaches across the table and takes Shayne's hand. She promises herself she won't cry but salty tears stung her eyes anyway. She sees the concern in Shayne's dark brown ones.
         "He said we're going to be mamas."
         The words seem to take a few seconds to register with Shayne. Then, a light fills her eyes and a beautiful smile--the most beautiful smile Natalie had ever seen in her life--spreads across her face.
         "We're pregnant?"
         "Yes. We're pregnant, but that's not everything. There's a problem."
         Shayne's smile fades as fast as it appeared.
         "What kind of problem? Is there something wrong with the baby? Please don't tell me we're going to be one of those couples that hopes for one baby and gets six. I don't know if we can handle six." The laugh comes out in an uneasy way but it is Shayne's way--to joke.
         "It's nothing like that but considering the problem that might be a blessing."
         "There's no way that could be a blessing."
         "I haven't told you what the problem is yet."
         "Tell me, Nat! You're stalling."
         "This isn't easy to talk about, Shayne!"
         "Just say it. Once it's out we can work on it. Leaving me in the dark is not going to solve anything."
         She squeezes Shayne's hand to give them both a little strength.
         "He said I have uterine cancer, Shayne. He wants to terminate the pregnancy and remove my uterus. That means that we'll never have children."
         "Cancer? Nat, I don't understand. You had so many tests done before we decided to try IVF. Why didn't they find it then?"
         "I don't know. Maybe the cancer wasn't there then. The appointment I had last month was to do biopsies after Dr. Marin found abnormal cells. I was there to make sure everything was going okay with the pregnancy."
         "You've known you were pregnant for over a month and didn't tell me?"
         "I wanted to make sure everything was okay before I said anything."
         "You should have told me, Nat."
         "I know. I'm sorry, but right now we have bigger decisions to make. If we don't terminate the pregnancy the cancer might progress. I might have to have a full hysterectomy. It might spread to other areas. We need to focus on this right now."
         The server approached the table with their dinner. A long silence, napkins to laps, eyes down. The server leaves and Shayne continues the conversation.
         "So, this is a no brainer, right? We'll terminate the pregnancy, you'll get the surgery, and--you know, maybe we'll adopt."
         "I don't want to adopt. I know it's not fair that I've had all day to think about this and you're just hearing it now, but listen to my reasoning."
         Shayne sits back in her chair. Her mouth hangs open. Her eyebrows push together, creating creases on her forehead.
Plates untouched. Silverware in place. Napkins in laps.
         "If the cancer wasn't there a year ago when we had the initial IVF testing done that means it's fairly new--less than thirty percent of my uterus is affected. Right now, I'm about two and a half months pregnant. Shayne, I'm due right before your birthday! What's six and a half months? We can have this baby, Shayne. We can have the baby and I'll get the surgery after. If Dr. Marin has to do a full hysterectomy after that it doesn't matter. Yeah, I'll have to take some hormone replacements, but that's something I'm willing to do so we can have this baby. I've had a month to get used to the idea of having this baby. I'm already in love with this child. I can't just let him kill our baby, Shayne!"
         "If we wait, I could lose you."
         "Yes, but that's unlikely. Even if you do lose me, you'll have this baby to remind you of me every day."
         "I don't know if that will be enough."
         More salt in her eyes--more water on her face and goddamned makeup. Shayne moves her chair closer to Natalie's, wraps her arms around her sobbing wife, and cries with her. The other guests at the restaurant stop to look for a moment--hushed conversation, the sound of knives and forks against plates, the sound of something crashing in the kitchen--but they go back to eating their dinner. The cacophony behind them continues unabated.

Featured in the "Noticing Newbies Newsletter (December 14, 2016)

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