December 21, 2005


I stand in the dimmed room, slowly swaying from side to side. Puppy snuggles into my neck, tiny hands resting on my shoulder. I hold the whole of him in my arms and think about how soon will be the day I can no longer do that. I close my eyes and breathe in his soft infant smell. He is secure; I am at rest.

Until Puppy swings out his little body and head butts me.

December 19, 2005

The Spirit of Christmas in a Parking Garage

Last week, T. and I went down to the shopping district to pick up some last gifts. We split up in order to make purchases for each other, with me taking Puppy in his green hoodie and jaunty Santa cap, strapped to my front like a wiggly elf.

The holiday crowds always set me on edge, but having a baby with me just took everything to a new level. I was already worried about Puppy having a meltdown in the middle of a crowded store (which he did at the Gap in front of the scarves). But this part of our city is always full of tourists, especially this time of year when most of the country doesn't dare step outside without five layers of clothing. Normally I just step around them as they take photos and gawk at the diagonal crosswalks. But that night the stores were crowded with a clumps of Japanese youth on tour, all of whom kept circling around me to point and ooh at Puppy, as if he were Christmas decoration.

By the time a group of drunk frat boys celebrating the end of finals loudly declared to the whole block that I had the "most incredible, cutest baby ever," I was done. Goodwill toward all be damned, I wanted never to see another stranger again. T. and I abandoned our plans to sit down for a cup of coffee and headed back to the parking garage, where we found a line of cars waiting to exit snaking back three levels. We made it to the front of the line, only to find out we had missed the free-parking window at the garage and owed $3.00, CASH ONLY. Which we didn't have. We offered credit cards, checks. "Cash only," said the attendant, with the tone of someone who has repeated the same phrase a thousand times. I frantically looked in every bag, pocket, crook and cranny while the line of cars fidgeted behind us.

We were trapped in front of the guard rail with no way to pay, cars honking, Puppy crying. Then the attendant looked down, and pausing for the briefest of moments, said, "You know, don't worry about it." With the push of a button, the meter blinked to $0.00, we were free to leave, and I remembered that the willingness to reach out into the world of strangers is the very heart of Christmas.

December 13, 2005

Like Mother, Like Daughter

My mother never had any trouble getting pregnant. She conceived her oldest (me) during a night of vacation carelessness, six years into marriage. As I neared two-year birthday, my parents decided to start trying for a second child. After all, they didn't know how long it might take. I'm sure you see the end of the story--she was pregnant not a month later.

She was the rare woman who enjoyed almost every day of her pregnancies. Her labor for me totalled six hours, all natural; for my brother it was even shorter. She says she would have seriously considered acting as a gestational surrogate for infertile couples, had she been young enough when the technology emerged. Her story is one of joy.

She has trouble understanding why T. and I haven't yet moved heaven and earth to try to have a biological child, why we adopted before we "tried." I struggle to help her understand, because I don't know the answers myself. I am not technically infertile, but I can't conceive without intervention. I celebrate the ART successes of friends (and even internet strangers), but shrink away from it myself.

As T. and I went through the adoption process, time and again we heard a similar story from the other waiting parents, "We hoped, we tried, we're infertile, we're adopting." For them, adopting was a resolution of sorts, though often a hard-earned, painful one. For us, it raised more questions than it settled. Adoption is how we started our family, but will it be how we finish it? Am I courageous enough to risk the heartache of ART? If I choose not to, will I regret never "trying"?

What is the ending to my story?
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