AFTER THE TEARS

AFTER THE TEARS

From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2

After the Tears

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Coe. The test was negative.”

Not that I was surprised. I felt it coming. I’d known I wasn’t pregnant for the last week and a half.

What did I do to deserve this?

Sobs broke from my husband first. I was numb. We held each other, but there was no comfort. It had been our last in vitro fertilization attempt, the last we would ever try. We’d spent the last seven years hoping for a baby, undergoing every procedure known to reproductive gynecology— hoping, hoping.

I’d gone home and put on a record—a song wailing about how God sometimes just doesn’t come through. Intermittently, I cried. But mostly I was angry and scared. I was at the end of my rope, faith-wise, hope-wise. God, sometimes you just don’t come through.

Adoption, I sighed in resignation. There was a meeting for prospective adoptive parents, and Tom wanted to go. He was getting over the infertility issue; he wanted to move forward. Okay, I’d go. I didn’t want to go, but I’d listen. I would try to keep an open mind.

Six couples stared across a conference table at each other. Five minutes into the meeting, the woman across from me was sobbing. Finally, I broke down, too. This agency had judged me hopelessly unable to give birth, only able to become a mother by taking someone else’s child. I was officially unfixable. This was the pain I’d just begun to face.

The next Sunday was Mother’s Day, and all the kids at church were invited up front for a children’s homily. The priest told them what blessings they were to their parents. But what about us? Why didn’t we get these blessings? What did we ever, ever, do to deserve this?

We went for counseling. We met with a woman who had suffered multiple miscarriages, who could now say, “If those children had lived, I would never have had these other children.” We looked into the face of someone who had survived this, someone to whom this all finally made sense.

So we’d adopt. But the agency hadn’t placed any babies in the last year. We’d have to advertise and find a baby ourselves. We’d have to get out there on the front lines and leave ourselves open to even more pain, even more disappointment. Worst of all, if someone did agree to give us her baby, she could change her mind, and there would be nothing we could do about it—except grieve again, and ask, why us?

I took a deep breath, and asked a group of women, some I hardly knew, to pray for me. It was something I’d never done before. And I waited.

Then one day while I was hanging around the house, thinking that for once I was actually happy, finally coming out of the funk I’d been in for years, the phone rang. A young woman wanted to give us a baby.

For the next few days, we were in a daze. We were going to become parents. An ultrasound was done. It was a perfect little girl, the doctor said.

Although I knew it was unreasonable, there was a part of me that grieved yet a little more. I had always wanted twins, a boy and a girl the same age. I thought maybe I would get them through all the fertility drugs I had taken. And somehow, I had always thought my first child would be a boy. But I convinced myself that a daughter would be wonderful. Truly a miracle—though not what I had expected or secretly hoped.

Then the most unlikely of unlikelies happened. We got another phone call. Another woman wanted to give us a baby—a boy, born just that morning. We walked into a hospital, and he was placed into my arms. “This is your mommy and your daddy.”

The papers were signed within hours. We appeared before a judge, and it was done. We were parents.

But what about the other baby? The girl? We decided to take her, too. Her birth mother was as dazed and joyous as we were. A brother the same age for our little girl! And so, exactly one month later, at another hospital, we were handed another baby—parents again.

As inexperienced parents of two tiny babies, the next few months were harder than we ever imagined. We agonized whether we had done the right thing, whether we had taken on too much. But one day, as I held my beautiful infant son on my knee, he leaned over to smile at his little sister. She had only begun smiling herself in the past few days. But he kept smiling, egging her on, until she burst into a big smile at him. They gazed smiling at each other, held in each of my arms, joyous to be exactly where they were. I felt tears of pure joy fill my eyes. I, too, was exactly where I wanted to be.

Today, a door opens to a nursery school classroom. Two blond heads look up and burst into grins. “Mommy! Mommy!” Two pairs of legs come running toward me. I kneel, my arms open wide.

What did I do to deserve this?

Cynthia Coe

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