Our lives are a combination of decisions and luck. In the United States, we are lucky to have been born here. Even if we are born into poverty, we have chances to move forward, there are limited support nets and we can try to use them. We may be born into a wealthy family and have more opportunities from the beginning. We may be born into an emotionally stable family, which sets us up for a warm and caring childhood and adulthood. You may be born with a life long disease, you may be born with a mental disease. These things are luck.
And then there are the decisions. We often think that we have decision trees, but they tend to be bushes or brambles more than trees. Decisions can come back upon themselves and we can’t always see a clear pathway from one decision to another. These are far more complicated than just "oh I shouldn’t have done that". Right now, I am in the Boston area. I could have been in Germany if the job offer to Jay for here hadn’t come through. Or perhaps Flagstaff if the Naval Observatory had the money to hire Jay the year he was looking for jobs.
A whole other set of decisions are made during our lives when we started a family. We waited for the launch of Chandra before even trying to have a child. The logistics of two scientists on the same project and trying to be pregnant were too difficult to work on. But eventually, the OAC (orbital activation checkout) was complete and life moved forward and we started trying to conceive. By 2001, I had become very discouraged and we were seeing a doctor. I was open in the fact that we were having difficulties with having a child. I got pregnant once, only to lose that pregnancy. I then went months with pain, emotional and physical, while trying to not make sex a programmed item.
While during this process, I met a great deal of women who were in similar situation. We held our breath together for each other and offered shoulders to cry on when our menses started each lunar cycle. Somewhere in early 2001, Jay and I were awoken by a phone call.
Being early morning, we answered in case it was a problem with a family member.
"Nance? Hi! Sorry to wake you. I need to talk to you"
"that’s okay, is everyone alright?" I yawned to my friend.
"well, I have some news, but I am not sure how you feel about it"
My stomach sank. I was sure she was going to announce a pregnancy. She had an earlier pregnancy that had also miscarried, so I was sure that was what this call was about.
"um, okay- shoot"
"I know you and Jay have been trying for a child. I know this is a tough thing, but my good news is that I have a person who just gave birth to a baby boy this morning. Would you like to adopt him?"
I think there was a brief moment when the entire world stopped spinning. Or perhaps the bed itself started spinning. I immediately thought of the room we were planning on being the baby room. I thought of what we would need to buy to have a baby in the house. What would we need to suddenly go from childless couple to parents. What would happen if the child was reclaimed by the birth mother, as a close friend had happened after 44 days.
"Nance? Are you still there?"
I looked over to Jay and he raised a quizzical eyebrow. I took a deep breath.
"Yeah, listen. We haven’t gotten off the infertility road yet." My heart was breaking. "We haven’t exhausted what we are willing to do" I think I had some tears at this point."We aren’t ready to look at adoption yet. I still want to try to have a child that is from us." How stupid does that sound? A parent is a parent no matter how their child comes to them "I’m sorry. I don’t think we can do this"
"Hey, that’s okay. I just figured that before they turn to an agency, to ask you. I know how badly you want a kid"
I think we had a few formalities and then we hung up. I snuggled into Jay’s chest and cried. The truth of the matter was simple. We were still working on getting me pregnant. We were still working on what was causing our "unexplained" infertility. I just wasn’t mentally, emotionally or intellectually prepared to jump off of that branch and onto the parenting branch at 6am in the morning with limited discussions.
It’s not that Jay and I hadn’t discussed adoption. Our plan was 2 children. Jay was leaning towards 3, but my depression changed that. We had the luxury of having IVF and other ART treatments covered by insurance and damn us if we weren’t going to use them. But if that failed…we had started talking of adoption. Jay’s religion and culture was important to him, so important that I agreed to put it in our Kettubah that we would raise our children Jewish. He wasn’t to go through a Jewish adoption agency. That’s all the info and planning we had. If IVF failed, we would mourn that stage and move onto adoption.
One call, one morning and we could have changed the entire course of our lives. Maybe I would have not tried to get pregnant anymore. Since the pregnancies caused my depression to explode, maybe I wouldn’t be fighting my demons.
But then… I wouldn’t have Soleil who was conceived on October 31, 2001, born July 23, 2002. (Hey, it was an IUI and I was pretty ill that day, so I stayed home to hand out candy early!)
And we wouldn’t have Luna. At least not this Luna.
The decisions we make…the reasons, sometimes they are worth it in the end. I wouldn’t trade my girls for my depression. They are part and parcel.