In December of 2008 I was eight and a half months pregnant with my first baby, and I was feeling pretty good. My husband and I had finally gotten the nursery painted, I had finished the last of my freelance writing assignments, and I was spending my days in the kitchen making homemade candies for Christmas presents. I had an old family fudge recipe and a peppermint recipe from an 1879 edition of the New York Times and a bunch of little white candy boxes and foil wrappers and striped string from the hobby store to put it all up in.
The only blots on this domestic idyll were the bug bites we’d been getting for the past few weeks; from spiders we’d stirred up during the renovation of the baby’s room, we figured. My husband even had them on his forehead:
although we thought that might have been some kind of adult acne brought on by the anticipation of the baby. He didn’t really feel stressed, but this was our first, and the preparations had been Herculean. We’d memorized the stages of labor. We’d practiced our breathing. We had dozens of tiny white baby washcloths stacked in our dresser drawers.
I was watching a pot of sugar melt and darken on the stove when I heard my husband come in the front door. He paused in the kitchen long enough to pull down his sock and show me some new bites on his ankle, and then he disappeared upstairs.
After a few minutes he called down from the bedroom.
He had ripped the sheets off our bed and pulled back the mattress pad and was staring at a dot on the underside.
Yeah. I knew what that was.
(to be cont’d)