Part One: Beer and a Box of Pregnancy Tests
Not too often does a man find himself holding a case of Bud Light and a box of E.P.T.s. But there I was. And this was one of those days. Does it get any more sketchy than this? And more importantly, why the heck were these two things in my hands?
I can easily explain the booze: I was out of town for a wedding and looking to stock up. The pregnancy tests; however, are gonna be a bit harder to explain. But I’ll try…
In January of 2009, my wife told me that a pregnancy test she had just taken was positive (which means pregnant). Being the skeptic I am, I didn’t believe it. Jokingly, I told her I was “throwing the red flag,” and that we would need a review from the booth (or in this case, a blood test from the doctor) to confirm the ruling on the field.
Clearly, I had been watching way too much football…
For the next few days, I tried to put it out of my head, and pretty much did. Until I got “the call.” I kid you not, I pick up the phone and the first thing I hear is: “the ruling on the field stands.” Oh boy.
“Ok, I’m on my way home.”
Needless to say the pregnancy was a total shocker. At the time, I was working an intense Pentagon job, and just completed my first semester of law school. I mean, I was hoping for a little more time before this all went down. Jackie, then 28, had always dreamed of raising a family. Recently, she had begun giving me the full court press on having a baby…
Constantly, I was reminded that my wife’s “biological clock was ticking…” Translation: YOU BETTER GIVE ME A BABY SOON! But neither of us figured it would be *this* soon.
Well, I was biologically-clocked right in the face. And my first order of business was to tell my friends. I mean, A BABY??? Oh they’re gonna love this… I told everyone: family, friends, strangers. Everyone had to hear this hilarious news.
And then one day, suddenly, it became not so hilarious.
Everyone has a few blink-of-an-eye moments characterized by the instant realization that life as they know it is about to change. Well, this was one of those moments. Exiting the bathroom, my wife dropped to her knees. Without saying a word, her tearful eyes told me all I needed to know: our baby was gone. Panic, shock, horror, disbelief, and tragedy were among thousands of bricks that fell on us all at once.
Days became weeks, and weeks became months, and I gradually moved on with my life. Jackie didn’t. She blamed herself. She was embarrassed. In her eyes, she had failed the most important job she had ever been given.
Meanwhile, our friends started getting pregnant, and that was really hard. Mother’s Day came along, and that was nearly unbearable. Father’s Day was hard, too. EVERY FREAKING DAY WAS HARD!!!
“Why did this happen to us?” was a question I was constantly expected to answer. But I had no good answers.
“I just wish you could understand,” she pleaded. But her wish didn’t come true – I never understood. I mean, I knew God was in control, but I sure didn’t know what the heck He was doing.
Months later, we began trying to have another baby. Unfortunately, as soon as we started trying, it seemed like EVERYONE was getting pregnant. Their stories were all similar: “oh-my-gosh-we-got-pregnant-the-first-month-we-tried!”
Oh did you?
Months and months of trying led to nothing. People who knew our situation either avoided the topic altogether, or approached it very delicately. It was becoming the elephant in the room. I mean, we were trying so hard… and we were praying super-nicely, too! But all we heard was silence.
God? You gonna give us a baby? Bueller?
Nothing. And every time we thought our prayers had been answered, a pregnancy test would rebuke us. “Not this month,” my wife would say. Couples struggling to get pregnant know that phrase well…
People started coming out of the woodwork telling us their stories about how they coped with infertility – a word I absolutely hate using. We read bible verses about women like Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), who miraculously got pregnant. But the angel Gabriel was nowhere to be found, and as far as having a baby was concerned, I was becoming a Doubting Tom.
After 16 exhausting months of trying, we surrendered. We needed a break, and began to realize that God’s timing wasn’t in line with ours. This resignation was strangely comforting. For the first time in years, my wife and I just began looking forward to just hanging out together as friends. An out-of-town wedding was the perfect venue – finally, a relaxing weekend. Hence the beer…
But Jackie grabbed a box of pregnancy tests as well, just to be sure. I mean, there was pretty much no chance there was a baby in there, but we were planning on having a few drinks that night and by this point we had already bought so many pregnancy tests that it had almost become a habit. So why not.
And there they both were, sitting in my hands.
Naturally, I made my wife pay for them. I mean, beer and pregnancy tests? I wouldn’t be surprised if protective services came in and grabbed me right there! We got back to the hotel room and Jackie went through the motions of yet another awkward test. A mere formality.
I had already cracked a Bud Light. And then I saw Jackie crack a big smile…