Ronan and Sophie sat on a bench in the park across the street from Clearview medical centre. “We have to keep an eye on the time, our appointment is at 13:00” Ronan said. Sophie turned her head to look at the bustling street behind her “Clearview is right there, you know they won’t take us early- they’re always packed”. Sophie who was usually bubbly and full of light was dazed by all the children laughing and playing. Mothers were pushing their little ones on the swing sets and sliding down the slides with their babies on their lap.
The park was picture perfect. Her hand instinctively went to her baby bump. They had been married for four years, they were high school sweethearts. Sophie had dreamed of starting a family for years but the process was selective
“Mr. and Ms. Lister?” a doctor said with a warm smile, she reached out her hand to greet them. “I’m Dr.
Jodie Foster, I’m a clinician here at Clearview medical center, follow me please” The couple stood up to follow Dr. Foster down the white corridor. The hall smelled of lemon cleaning solution and formaldehyde. Sophie and Ronan were no stranger to this clinic, they had been there a few times in the past. Dr. Foster unlocked the door to room 7 and walked to her desk. She gestured for the couple to sit in the chairs across from her. Sophie took her denim jacket off and draped it over the chair as Ronan pulled it out for Sophie to sit.
Sophie looked at Ronan, trying to muster up a convincing smile as he sat beside her. “Before we get started here, do you want anything to drink?” The couple stood silent. Dr. Foster continued “We have tea, coffee, an assortment of juices, sparkling water, regular water, and sodas. Anything spark your interest?” “Um, we’ll both just have a water” Ronan said, his voice trailing off. “Perfect, coming right up” Dr. Foster said as she scooted back her chair to get their drinks. Sophie grabbed Ronan’s hand and interlaced her fingers with his. “Sophie, you know that whatever happens today could never and would never change the way that I look at you” Ronan said as he kissed the back of Sophie’s hand. Sophie looked at him and nodded. Dr. Foster walked back into room 7 with two glasses of lemon water and placed them on the table and sat back in her chair. She let out a huff and reached in front of her for her tablet. She adjusted it closer to her face and double tapped the screen. “Ronan and Sophie Lister” Dr. Foster murdered to herself as she swiped through her tablet “Ah yes, here you are. So I see that you filled out the questionnaire from” her voice trailed off “a few months ago when you were here last, is that correct?” They both nodded their heads. Dr. Foster locked eyes with Sophie “I also see that this is your fourth time”. Sophie looked down at her pregnant belly and touched it, then looked back at Dr. Foster wide-eyed. “You will have a moment to look over and edit your answers on the questionnaire if need be. We highly recommend doing this because after you sign the papers all your answers are final”. Dr. Foster takes the tablet off the stand and reaches across the table to hand it to Ronan. Section one of the questionnaire assesses both parents careers past and present, habits, lifestyle, daily activities, desirable traits, intellect, and education level. Section two of the questionnaire focuses on the child in the future household; parenting rules and discipline, schooling options, future extracurriculars, and expectations. “Everything’s all here” Sophie says reluctantly as Ronan passes the tablet back to Dr. Foster. “Great, I’ll go ahead and print off two copies for you both to sign along with the medical procedure compliance waiver just in case. In the meantime, I’ll page my colleague, Dr. Monahan to let him know that you’re coming to the laboratory for the simulation”. Dr. Foster pulls together two clipboards with the required documents and passes them to the couple- “For the record, I think you two would be amazing parents. Look at you, such a happy couple. You just need to remember that if it doesn’t want to be born, that it isn’t a reflection on either of your behalfs. In the end, it’s for the betterment of the fetus and I’m sure as loving parents you would only want what’s best for it”. Her not so encouraging words made Sophie wince and reach for her stomach. She wasn’t sure what made her more uncomfortable; either the doctor referring to her baby as an “”it” or the idea that the baby may not want to be born. Ronan and Sophie both signed the questionnaire and the medical waiver and passed the clipboard back to Dr. Foster. A knock came at the door and Dr. Foster jolted up to answer it. “Hi Dr. Monahan, here are their signed forms, would you take them over to the simulation hub?” “Yes of course, please follow me” Dr. Monahan hesitated and looked at the sheet “Mr. and Ms. Lister”. Ronan helped Sophie out of her chair and held up her denim jacket for her to put on. They held hands as they followed the doctor to the simulation hub.
There was no talking between anyone on the way, just the sound of their footsteps echoing on the marble floor. Dr. Monahan placed his index finger on they keypad to unlock the door. Unlike the previous room, this one had no number. “Take a seat across from my desk while I set up for the simulation” Sophie and Ronan obeyed and walked to the two seats at the desk. Ronan grabbed his wife’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze, he leaned in and kissed her temple.
Sophie’s thoughts raced about how her and Ronan had been trying to have a baby for too long. Far too long. Over the course of their marriage, the couple had received three rejections to date. After the first rejection, Ronan and Sophie tried to believe that outside factors contributed to the outcome of the test to keep their spirits high. They convinced themselves that it was a fluke. After the second rejection, Ronan and Sophie sold their house and moved to a rural town on the outskirts of the city. The gated community they now lived in was lined with cookie cutter row houses. The neighbourhood had open field space with play structures for children. It was virtually crime free and very peaceful- the ideal neighbourhood to start a family. After their third rejection, Ronan and Sophie changed careers, and started reading and writing daily. They cut caffeine and alcohol out of their lives completely and started eating cleaner. Sophie picked up on yoga and pottery while Ronan joined a biking group. They knew that at this point that it was not a fluke. This was their fourth try- their last try to have a child. Sophie relayed Dr. Foster saying that receiving a rejection was not a reflection on the parents but she couldn’t help but think about what it was a reflection on then.
Sophie was brought out of her daydream by Dr. Monahan wheeling a large machine towards his desk. “I saw on your chart that this is your fourth try” Dr. Monahan said to neither of them in particular. “I’m sure you’re both familiar with the process. Nonetheless, I will be walking you through it as we go. Sophie, I need you to lift your blouse so that I can disinfect your stomach”. Sophie lifted her blouse as Dr. Monahan wiped her stomach with a disinfectant wipe. He wheeled the large silver machine closer to Sophie as he crouched down to grab four white wires. “This is the Reverse Ultra Sensory Screen that I will be using to conduct the simulation. I’ll be inserting four needles into your stomach in different spots- this will allow for not only us to view the simulation, but most importantly for the fetus to view the simulation”. Sophie squirmed as Dr. Monahan poked the needles into her stomach. She was now sitting upright on a cushioned chair, wired to a machine that resembled a refrigerator. “I’m going to need a blood sample from both of you for the machine” Dr. Monahan said as he reached his hand to take Ronan’s. He wiped Ronan’s index finger with a disinfectant wipe and pricked him with a small lancet pen. Dr. Monahan collected the bead of blood off Ronan’s finger using a pill sized clear capsule and popped it into the machine. Sophie lifter her hand, palm side up to Dr. Monahan who pricked her finger with a clean lancet and collected her blood in a similar clear pill sized capsule for the machine. Dr. Monahan fed the prior filled in questionnaire to the machine.”As you will notice, there is a small screen on this device” the doctor said as he gestured to a five by ten screen, no bigger than one on an airplane. “The Reverse Ultra Sensory Screen is booting, when it has finished loading, the wires attached to you, Sophie, will make it possible to watch your lives with the fetus unfold before your very eyes. I will not be present for the simulation as what happens during the process is confidential and most of the time, emotional. I will be back when I am alerted that the simulation has finished and that we have a final result”. The machine beeped four times signaling that the simulation was ready to be viewed. Dr. Monahan pressed a button below the screen and started for the door; he dimmed the lights and walked out. Ronan and Sophie held hands as the simulation started playing.
The simulation finished, leaving both Sophie and Ronan nervous about the outcome. Having experienced three prior rejections, the couple was unsure of what the final results could be. Having to watch the life that you may or may not have with the baby who may or may not want to be born seemed almost torturous. Having seen the whole life with the baby unfold and not be able to actually live that life was more heartbreaking than the baby just choosing not to be born and miscarrying. At least in that case you wouldn’t be able to have literally seen what could have been.
Ronan and Sophie’s heads both shot to look at the door as Dr. Monahan allowed himself back inside the simulation hub. “I was notified that the simulation had been completed” he said in a low, steady tone of voice. There were no notes of excitement in what he was saying as he walked to his desk to see the couple. Dr. Monahan approached Sophie and removed the four needles from her belly and wrapped them up to put back under the machine. He then took a seat in his chair and placed his clipboard with a copy of the questionnaire and the couple’s signed waivers on the table. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this but the result was a negative” he stated unphased. Sophie grabbed her stomach as tears streamed down her face and Ronan let out an audible groan and put an arm around his wife. Dr. Monahan unclipped his clipboard and slowly slid the waivers that they had previously signed to the grieving couple. As if scripted and practiced a million times before, Dr. Monahan began speaking; “As you know, this has been your fourth and final rejection. This is a somewhat rare occurrence that by no means happens to everyone. Unfortunately, some people just are not meant to procreate in our society. Security is on their way now to escort you to the operation ward where as per government order, you will both be sterilized and no longer be able to reproduce. Sophie, as for the fetus, it will be aborted immediately. Once again, I apologize greatly and we here at Clearview medical centre wish you both the best on your future endeavors”.
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