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Week 23: Bridge Over Humbled Waters

More bad news. At synagogue, I saw Nate, an old guy whose daughter’s pregnancy was two weeks ahead of Sarah’s. His daughter miscarried. Her cervix had basically opened up and the fetus came out early, which happens in about one percent of all pregnancies. I practically burst into tears right there in the sanctuary. Nate, who’d been giddy at the prospect of being grandfather just a month ago, now looked miserable. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could say to him.

That night, I held Sarah tight. But not too tight…

More bad news. At synagogue, I saw Nate, an old guy whose daughter’s pregnancy was two weeks ahead of Sarah’s. His daughter miscarried. Her cervix had basically opened up and the fetus came out early, which happens in about one percent of all pregnancies. I practically burst into tears right there in the sanctuary. Nate, who’d been giddy at the prospect of being grandfather just a month ago, now looked miserable. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could say to him.

That night, I held Sarah tight. But not too tight. 

With this and the chicken pox thing taking over my thoughts, I decided to e-mail Duff to see how he was doing as a father. (He’s the guy who had harrowing bouts with Wifezilla back in week 14). His response:

Baby has a habit of peeing like a drunken frat boy when he is around me. So Sunday, I had to change him in the front seat of my car. He let loose and proceeded to soak me, the front seat, door panel, and window. This morning when I was driving to work, I looked up and saw he hit the sunroof too. That’s my boy! Time was I would have freaked out about urine in my car. Now? Don’t care. Mopped it up with Starbucks napkins and his mother’s sweatshirt.

I told him about the chicken pox thing, and he shrugged it off.

We had an ultrasound in July, and the overly sensitive tech sent us into a frenzy with specialists. She had us believing that our son would have a maldeveloped chamber in his tiny heart, and flippers instead of arms. None of it was true, obviously, but it showed how not reassuring the medical profession can be. Give my best to Baby Momma. Gotta go home and get peed on.

What all this had to do with chicken pox, I had no idea. But it made me feel better.

This story did not. A few days ago, a Green Bay, Wisconsin, state trooper saved a 36-year-old woman from falling off a bridge. He jumped from his car and dove for her just as she let go, and grabbed a hold of her wrist with both hands. The two of them dangled 200 feet over the Fox River for 16 seconds until two other officers appeared and helped hoist her back up to safety. The whole thing was caught on a squad car video camera. But what made me sit up and take notice was something else.

It turns out that the woman was suffering from postpartum depression, and her family had been worried that she might be suicidal. Before she got to the bridge, she led the trooper on a 105-mile-per-hour chase, her car veering across lanes of traffic on I-43. At the bridge, she got out of her car, went straight to the edge, and dove, headfirst. The trooper was the only thing that stopped her.

Those 16 seconds. Do you know what she was doing during the 16 seconds that he had a hold on her arm? She was clawing at his wrist, trying desperately to break free.

“When I am pulling on her, she’s screaming . . . and she’s pulling, she’s pulling back and she’s fighting,” the trooper told the Associated Press. “It’s a tug-of-war, and I’m glad that I was bigger than she was.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that one in every 10 new mothers experiences postpartum depression. During pregnancy, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body skyrockets; then, immediately after the delivery, both hormone levels plummet. It’s a change dramatic enough to scramble anyone’s brain. The scientific explanation reassured me a little, as did the existence of antidepressants. But still: When a perfectly healthy woman chooses to drive 105 MPH, swerve through traffic and plunge 200 feet into a cold river rather than deal with her baby, I realize that I can’t possibly comprehend what’s happening in Sarah’s body.

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