Raising a baby into an adult takes all the don’t want to’s you can muster. You don’t want to be awakened on the hour- all night-every night (absolutely no weekends off) but you are. You’re squeamish around vomit and poop, but you’re erasing them daily (again no weekends off). Your lovely furniture is hidden behind a Pack n Play, yards of plastic corral panels, 1000 rainbow colored stack rings and a half dozen giraffes named Sophie. Your kitchen, once a shrine to culinary experimentation is a sea of PABA free bowls and bottles that need washing. Most mornings are spent trying to track down a smell. Sometimes it’s emanating from a dirty diaper. Sometimes you don’t need to look further than under your arms since you can’t recall your last long shower. It’s a nasty business raising a baby and sadly, by the time you’ve got the process under control, your baby is replaced with a toddler who requires a whole new skill set. Once you’ve championed the terrible twos to the fretful fours, you must fight like a knight against your school-aged child’s teachers, (who don’t share your belief that she is perfect). Then, in a blink of your tired eyes, baby is a teenager who’s learning to drive and your only prayer is that you’ll both live through the experience.
Only the most intrepid of us are prepared for this life’s work. It’s why I think those couples with infertility problems are the most likely to successfully survive the trial. For seven years, I traversed and stumbled through a maze of fertility doctors and clinics, it was the catalyst for my first marriage’s demise. One by one as my friends’ tummies swelled with new life, I dropped out of their lives. Anyone can have a baby became their mantra as they bounced their off-spring on their knees. Anyone but me, I thought. Here was a mountain I couldn’t climb. Doctor visits began with new hopes and ended with “Have you looked into adoption?”
My mother and her sisters made me their cause, (which only made me feel more like a failure). New doctor visits in other cities followed---leading to the same gut-wrenching mantra, “Have you looked into adoption?” Let’s stop here for a moment; I believe in adoption, not just as warm and fuzzy ideals, but for practical solutions. I wanted to be a mommy since I played with my Ginnie dolls – and there were unloved babies who needed a mom. Adoption was a win-win solution for me—or so it seemed.
I left a trail of medical visits behind me and ventured into Manhattan for adoption consultations. There were agencies that specialized in boy babies from Mexico while others offered infants with birth defects. Healthy babies came with price tags usually seen on luxury car window stickers. I couldn’t afford what I secretly imagined; a little girl to take shopping and paint our nails together; a precious daughter who would look like me. I gave up.
My aunt Evie sent me to a new endocrinologist-gynecologist. Short and short tempered, with a nose like a Bliss potato, Dr. S looked like Snow White’s Grumpy. He ordered the same tests and prescribed the same meds I had taken before. I dropped out of his program. Aunt Evie called to check on me. I told her I didn’t like him. “Then don’t go to the dance with him. But do what he says.” (Have I mentioned my middle aunt was both very wise and pretty scary?) I stayed with Dr. Grumpy through two surgeries and a regimen of drugs. The following year, I gave birth to my son—(I think of David’s gender as a ha-ha from God.)
Cleaning baby poop was the easiest thing I had done for seven years. I didn’t mind any of his bodily excretions or cared about my own body changes. (Not even my post-partum hair loss that had me shedding more than Fido II). Nothing was exhausting or difficult—even though I fretted over every cough and rash. I owe it all to the biblical-sized 7 years of wandering in my infertility desert. During my first year of raising David in idyllic euphoria, I received a phone call. “Could you call Melinda? She thinks she’s infertile.” Of course, I called Melinda.
“Everyone has a baby. Where’s my baby?” She sobbed over the phone. Over the next 20 years, whenever I’ve learned about a woman who was having trouble conceiving, I’ve called her. First I listen, then listen some more. Finally, I say, “You’re going to have a baby, but it may take years of trying for one with your genes or a loan to bring home a sweetie from a different gene pool.
Things have changed for the better since I struggled to have David. Many of my young friends with infertility issues end up with twins and triplets. Others, never dreamed they’d be flying across the globe to bring home their precious child. I also know couples who chose not to adopt. (They are the best aunties and uncles ever.)
Although the journey isn’t for the faint-hearted, the answer to, “Where’s my baby,” is still “Waiting for you.”