At first I did everything I could not to get pregnant. It seemed easy back then, like I might fertilize an egg just by going on a date. ROGUE SPERM ALERT! I was an obedient birth control user. A poster child, really. I would not have to make the decision to keep or abort a baby. I knew it would undo me, so I faithfully used my diaphragm (which felt like the size of a flying saucer. “Earth to Toni’s vagina.”), the pill for a short time (which made me gain 10 pounds in about six seconds), condoms (which the guys were never too happy about).
My mom had me at 41, and I swore I’d never wait that long, because I was always worried she would die before I was ready and didn’t want to impose that same anxiety on my children (little did I know I WOULD NEVER BE READY FOR HER TO DIE). A stomachache would send me on a year-long hunt for the reason and that reason would be that I had stage IV endometriosis, and all my organs were glued together, and as the doctor said, so eloquently, “You’ll never have a baby, because your insides are a mess.
But fuck you endometriosis, and fuck you even harder, doctor with no bedside manner, I did. I did have a baby. Not saying it was easy. Because it was not. There was not one easy thing about it. It was three years of physical and emotional pain, tests, surgery, anxiety and eventually a desire to get in bed, and stay there, for like, EVER.
But after one miscarriage and three years, the test was positive. Two lines appeared. I checked and re-checked. And nine months later, I had a little boy named Jake. I had a baby. I had a healthy baby. Three years later, after two months of trying, I was pregnant again (I actually thought it might not be mine). I had a healthy little girl with more hair than most full grown orangutans.
It’s my 22nd mother’s day. There is a lot more to say. A. Lot. More. To. Say. But because I have a big breakfast in bed waiting for me, I will say this: I love my kids more than all the words the alphabet can make. Jackson Robert Gabriele and Alexandra Louise Christina, Riley, my buddy (who is my dog, but I’m pretty sure I gave birth to) : you are everything, plus french fries.