When Myrna first laid the egg we were both really excited. It was the color of butter, with freckles just like Myrna's freckles.
We took the normal goofy photos: Myrna holding the egg up in front of her belly and doing the "I-can't-believe-this-was-inside-me!" face, the egg wearing my A's hat. We felt really warm and proud. Plus it was way smoother and more beautiful than we'd imagined.
Those first couple nights, we'd lie in bed cuddling it between us and go back and forth between looking at each other and looking at the egg.
But then things started to get complicated. There were a million decisions to make, and what you decided was supposed to be some big sign of what kind of person you were. Like, to decorate the egg or not. And if so, would we do it funny, like with a mustache, in the spirit of the hat photos? Or would we do something sincere — Celtic knots or a flock of crows with clouds?
We went back and forth and got on each other's nerves. We finally landed on having our friends write messages, like you do on a cast.
All this was nothing compared to the incubation question though.
Like everybody, we took the first two weeks off to incubate together. But then would Myrna take the next two months off, and fall out of the loop on her big project? Or take the egg to work and freak out about the car ride? Would we each do half the incubating and worry about Swapout Syndrome from our different body temperatures? Which our more hippie friends said was just a lie to get us to pay the big bucks to put it in IncuCare. Was it true that kids come out autistic if they don't get natural warmth? You can hire a sitter of course, but it's hard not to feel weird about some immigrant lady who maybe you're oppressing in some weird way, sitting there in your house all day.
We started out talking calmly and lovingly about the incubation thing. But as the two weeks went by, we started to kind of joke-bicker about it, and pretty soon it was real bickering. We'd lean toward IncuCare and then I'd start to feel like a sellout. Then we'd lean toward Myrna doing all the sitting at home, but then she'd feel like a '50s housewife.
We finally decided she would take it to work. But she said her coworkers were smirking at her and the IncuChair made her legs look ugly. She hated leaving the egg zipped into the ThermoBag when she went to the bathroom, so she stopped drinking water and got awful headaches. In retrospect, I should have been better about it. But somehow the whole debate about what to do had left me feeling brittle and exhausted and so my sympathy sounded fake and my encouragement sounded patronizing.
Then yesterday I get a text from Myrna that just says "come home now" and I zip home from the office. When I get there, the egg's in the front hall in the ThermoBag, and a note from Myrna that just says "Sorry". I call her and call her but no answer.
So I've just been sitting here with the egg. I haven't called my work, just didn't go. I haven't called my family or anybody. I just sit here and stare between my legs at the egg and try not to think about Swapout Syndrome or cracks or the way Myrna looked at me when we first held this egg together.
"The Egg" by Jonathan Curley, posted by NPR during Round 7 of their October 2011 writing contest.