What? Wait a second! I already have 3 children! And I’m bloody 42 years old!
I felt my easy grin turn Stepfordish – a robotic, macabre smile pulling at my lips – the voice inside my head hollering very, VERY loudly.
‘I want to have a baby with you,’ Jess repeated, her eyes holding mine. Such a simple statement. But what I felt inside was anything but simple. Our modern love story was about to take a turn for the complicated. But complicated was a language we spoke fluently.
A fiery maple leaf, bright with the end of its life, drifted past the window of the pub where we’d met for lunch. It was October and a damp wind stirred the fallen leaves as our steaming mugs of hot chocolate sweetened the air, my half-eaten club sandwich waiting for me to get past the shock of what Jess had just proposed.
I felt our story rush through my head, like white water frothing around the partially submerged boulders of my mind. The memories come fast and I felt as though I was spinning.
Jess and I had fallen in love 2 years earlier. Our feelings had evolved from the passion of new love to the comfortable glow of 2 woman who truly loved each other, respected and had made sacrifices for each other and who trusted one another. I had mostly worked through my insecurities and Jess had finally found someone who had put her ahead of the fear of social stigma. She was no longer someone’s little secret but the someone I proudly and publicly declared as my partner.
None of it had been easy. But easy is boring. Right?
She had fallen into the role of stepmother with relative ease. I knew and appreciated the effort she put forth in caring for my children. As they made the tough transition from the children of an outwardly ‘normal’ heterosexual couple to the children of a single dad and two gay moms, Jess rarely faltered. She soothed my guilt and helped me realize what I had done just might turn out okay. Though her shift from a single young woman with only herself and her dog to care for, to the stepmom of three with new and very real responsibilities, was not always easy, we travelled the broken road together, accepting one another’s baggage – not always gracefully!! – creating a new and exciting life entwined with laughter, tears, love and support.
So, I tried to rearrange my face. Tried not to look like the wooden dummy from Goosebumps.
Have another child? Sure! Why not? What was one more child? I would do anything for Jess as she had done for me. She was my Saving Grace. She had proven her love and if a baby made our life complete, I would jump in with both feet…and flap my arms wildly…and try not to let the white water close over my head.
And, so began our search for the perfect fertility clinic and the doctor who initially thought it was I who would carry our bundle of joy; me, Maisie Duncan, 42 years old, mother of 3 and just a wee past my prime. But we cleared up the doctor’s confusion and Jess and I began our expedition into the uncharted world of In Vitro fertilization or IVF.
First, and most importantly, we tackled the task of choosing a donor. For days we poured over photos, medical histories and personal essays. We wanted someone who resembled my children, with their blonde hair, blue eyes and wide smiles. A healthy medical history for the donor and all immediate family members was a must. And lastly, we searched for a donor with qualities Jess and I shared and admired – a love of the arts and a passion for sports. And then, one day, we found him, his wide smile and bright, clear eyes speaking to both of us, his personal story finding a place in my heart.
Next, we began the rounds of multiple appointments, counselling, blood tests, fertility drugs, endless ultrasounds and an MRI. And me, Maisie Duncan, well, I learned to give Jess her injections. Me, yep that girl who usually ended up lying on the kitchen floor if I cut my finger with a knife, was now intentionally jabbing a wickedly sharp needle into Jess’s lower back several times a week.
Finally, it was time for the actual IVF procedure. The conscious sedation took away Jess’s inhibitions and I giggled as she asked for a rum and coke then held her hand as the transfer took place. Multiple eggs had been harvested but only 2 were viable. Our doctor suggested we transfer both with the hope that at least one resulted in a successful pregnancy.
Easy is BORING!
The days crept by until, at last, it was time to take the pregnancy test. Positive! We cried. We laughed. We hugged and cried some more. And in the middle of all of this, I realized I didn’t feel as though I was flailing or trying to keep my head above water. I felt right inside.
Then our moment of truth – our ultrasound appointment. Time had literally slowed and the weeks had crawled by but at last we would see our creation – our baby! As the ultrasound technician scanned her belly, Jess’s fingers tightened round mine and I found myself holding my breath. And then I saw it, our tiny bean lighting up the screen. My vision blurred as I stared at the miniature heartbeat. Then the technician moved the probe and another tiny bean came into focus. Another tiny bean that made me blink. And squint.
Not one baby. Two babies.
The voice inside my head began to holler, ‘Easy is boring! EASY IS BORING!’
Then Jess and I looked at each other and smiled.