Monday, August 31st, 2009
Thursday, August 27 was a significant day here. A few minutes before 6 p.m., D’s beloved Uncle Ronnie died. Two hours later, my teenage cousin’s baby was born, a baby that could’ve been ours but probably won’t be.
It was a long, sad, complicated weekend to end a long, sad, complicated month. Uncle Ronnie’s funeral was yesterday, and it rained just enough (bright sun can be too much to take when you’re hurting). As one of the preachers at the funeral said, Ronnie was the “hub of the family.” At Christmas, we all brought him gifts and gathered around to watch him open them. At every meal, he was the one who said grace, though sometimes one of his brothers had to nudge him to get him to wrap it up. He adored hunting and fishing, singing in church, smiling at women, and holding babies. Stories of his antics always made us laugh, yet even the littlest children treated him with respect and love. Uncle Ronnie was D’s mother’s youngest brother. He was 55 years old, and he had Down Syndrome.
D was there with him for a while the night he died. Ronnie was skin and bones and barely breathing. D and his father sat by Ronnie’s bedside and sang his favorite song, “I Will Meet You in the Morning.” D finally left, and by the time he got home, Ronnie had died.
In all our years together, I’ve never seen D so upset. I felt helpless. All I could think to do was hold him and say, “I’m sorry.”
The tables turned the next night when my aunt called to tell us about her step-daughter’s beautiful newborn baby girl, her dark curly hair and perfect lips and “monkey feet.” From the beginning, my cousin has been struggling with whether or not to keep the baby, has been saying that if she chooses adoption, we will be the parents. Her parents not-unwisely advised her to wait to make her decision until the baby is born. Now she says she doesn’t feel that maternal bond, but they are telling her to take the baby home for two weeks. In that time, the rest of the family will be in love with the baby. I could tell from my aunt’s excited voice, they already are. I know they will never be able to let her go; the pressure and guilt will be too much for my cousin to bear. At Christmas, the baby will sit on my cousin’s lap, and I might have no child on my lap, and I will feel bitter and wonder, always wonder – what if?
That night was bad for me. I cried again in bed and asked unanswerable questions aloud into the darkness. D was silent. “Aren’t you going to say anything?” I said, bitterly. Quietly, sadly, he said, “I don’t know what to say.” Then he snuggled up beside me and put his arm around me, and it turned out that was what I needed after all.
Today is a new month. And believe it or not, it feels like a fresh start. Maybe it’s only because I don’t have the energy to sustain a weepy mood for more than two solid weeks. Or maybe it’s because I listened to the Hairspray soundtrack today, and “I Can Hear the Bells” cracks me up every time. Or because I went shopping and found out I can finally wear a smaller size top.
Also, I went to a consultation with the fertility doctor, and while I waited for my appointment, a new mom came in to show off her 6-day-old baby to the nurses. The mom kept glancing at me furtively until the nurse left the room for a moment, and then she smiled and whispered across the small waiting room to me, “This is a product of ART,” pointing to the sleeping newborn.
Living proof it does work for some. Maybe it can work for me. The doctor and I decided to do another round – more injections and increased dosage. Now, my odds of having a twin pregnancy are 20 percent, triplets 5 percent and quads 2 percent. That is, if I get pregnant at all (the odds of that in a given month are 25 percent, once we can get my dosage right).
My aunt told me she has a feeling something good is right around the corner for us. D’s mother said the same. I don’t put much stock in such things, but the truth is – somehow, I am feeling it a little, too. Something good has to happen soon. Can’t get much worse, can it?