I thought I would have kids later, like my mom did. I was working in advertising, which i really liked, and Peter was busy trying to get tenure, and we just thought we’d have babies in our late 30’s. But, then I got a stomach ache that wouldn’t go away. I found out I was lactose intolerant during the myriad of tests that were run, and while that discovery helped the pain some, it persisted. An exploratory abdominal surgery resulted in the doctor telling me this by phone: “You’re a mess inside. You’ll never have a baby.”
Yes, that happened.
The next three years of infertility would be like an emotional hike up Mt. Everest, followed by a depressing descent into the Grand Canyon. We’re talking get out your insurance card and your savings account, because you’re going to get poked and prodded in places you like to keep private, including your wallet. You’re going to have surgery, and need therapy, and make Ben & Jerry’s stock go up, way, way up. You’re going to have sex on demand and sex when you’re mad and sex in your sleep. You will no longer see anything but pregnant women and babies. Even in your dreams. You will wonder what’s wrong with you. You will ask the clouds why you can’t just be like everybody else, planning a nice summer baby, so you can take nice long walks to lose the pregnancy weight. You will want to move to another planet where babies are hatched from seeds you plant in your weightless backyard.
If it weren’t for an exceptionally talented doctor named Robert Hunt, who performed a five hour surgery that rid me of the stage 4 endometriosis that was preventing the egg and sperm dance, and allowed me to conceive naturally, and the Mind Body Program for Infertility run by the talented Ali Domar, which helped me through my severe baby-less depression through meditation and cognitive restructuring, and allowed me to meet a group of women just like me, I wouldn’t be celebrating my son’s birthday today. But I am. And let me just say, he was worth the wait.
Happy birthday to my boy, Jackson Robert Gabriele, who made me a parent, who has taught me more than any philosopher, any institute of higher learning, any text book there is. To my guy, who has pushed me to be my best self, opened my eyes to the deepest kind of emotion, made my heart grow like the grinch’s when he finally learned his lesson. To my little bunny, who is charming and brilliant and interesting and funny. To my messy, first born on his birthday, you gave me a whole new kind of life when you came tumbling into the world 19 years ago. You’ve helped me heal the ugly wounds left by a difficult dad, and shone a big fat light onto what’s really important in the world–relationships. Whether they’re family, or not, you’ve helped me see that having people you love in your world is better than anything else there is.
I love you in the deepest, hardest to get to parts of my heart and the dead center of my soul. I am proud of you in a million little ways. I admire you and wish for you all that is real and good. This is the first time we aren’t together on your birthday, but make no mistake, you’re right here in my heart.