There was never a doubt in my mind when it came to wanting children. Among other things, I always knew I wanted to be a mother.
Three years into my first marriage, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to conceive a child. I was one of seven children and was confident that soon, with the help of my husband, I would be brewing and concocting a tiny human being that would join us and the two would become three.
When we decided to start our family, our first attempt failed and I was stunned. Stopped dead in my tracks. Prematurely, I began to ruminate about my imagined infertility and the next month brought daily determination to produce a much wanted member to our family.
Nine months later our first son was born. As my water broke, so did the floodgates of the fertility gods and despite the efforts to control and plan, we ended up with four children under the age of six. While this was more than overwhelming, I considered myself fortunate and daily thanked the powers that be for the lives of my young children.
My brother and his wife weren’t as charmed as I. They were high school sweethearts and as high school sweethearts tend to do, they broke up and went on with their lives. In Kevin and Lara’s case, they remained single and stumbled upon one another years later. Being in their late 30’s and remembering the ties that bound them so many years before, they fell quickly and comfortably back into one another and married on the dawn of mid-life.
As they merged into one they yearned for a baby but time and tests bore the bad news that Nature had not graced them as She had so many others and me. Spurning the loud cries of bitterness and an unfair fate, they turned their attention to private adoption, undaunted by their age and the barrenness of an empty room where they stubbornly kept an expectant crib. They held on to hope like life rafts as they clung to one another, month after month, waiting for a call, any call, The Call.
One day the phone rang like manna falling from heaven. There was a baby to be born to a young single mother who was already overwhelmed by the flesh and bones of two small children. She had decided to relinquish the soon-to-be-born son over to the care and security of two who had more capacity and magic than the man on the moon.
Our family and friends celebrated and future Christmases would pale in comparison to the gift of the child who spent his first three days on earth in the arms of my good brother and his wife, being swaddled and cooed to and loved no less than if he was their own baby born from their loving union.
But as any person who has lived long enough knows, the gods can be cruel and the baby turned out to be a mirage, a vapor, a tease. The mother had a change of heart and my brother and his wife, with faces stained with tears that remained as permanent markers, handed him back over to the one who had the right to change her mind.
Sterile and arid months ensued but the grief-stricken eyes still brimmed bright with hope. Kevin and Lara chose to ignore the formidable and real possibility that they would never be parents, choosing instead to focus on God, the Universe and the angels who surely were looking after them and the unseen child who was waiting in the wings.
Several months ago, the phone rang once again bringing promises of a miracle from the highest on high. It was my brother speaking in hushed tones. They had kept it quiet, The Call they had received just weeks before. The Call that delivered the news that a baby boy was soon to be born to a young woman whose love and wisdom exceeded her sliver of a life that had barely seen seventeen years. With the aid of those who loved her, she had decided that the only act of motherly love worthy of her unborn child was to surrender him to those whose empty arms and solid foundation were waiting and willing to rock him to sleep, kiss the fragile soft spot on his head and walk by his side for a lifetime of lullabies, lessons and love.
Baby James sleeps in the crib that so patiently waited for him. My brother and his wife hover over him in reverence, whispering long stifled words of love in the form of prayers and proclamations.
And a young woman sleeps alone in the darkest of midnight hours but she is not afraid. She closes her eyes and hears the distant sounds of a baby’s cry and remembers the sweetness of newborn baby breath and despite the ache in her heart, she smiles. She is a woman now and the music is calling her to places she simply must go.
Kevin and Lara lay side by side, hands held tightly together as they close their eyes and listen to the rhythmic inhalations and exhalations of their beloved baby’s steady breathing as he sleeps besides them, and despite their exhaustion from the long and tortuous wait, they smile.
They are parents now and the newborn life of their son is calling them to places they simply must go. To the places they always knew they were destined to go.
*A heartfelt thanks goes out to the timely post of Wren Dancer. It is women like Wren Dancer who are selfless and courageous enough to give their own children the stability they couldn't offer and allow couples like my brother and his wife to fulfill their lifelong desire to be parents.