Written by Connor Moriarty
Karen was running out of time. She lay in bed and rubbed her flat belly, wondering if she would see a bump there. Any other normal 35-year-old woman already has. A normal woman doesn’t spend her 30s in and out of doctors’ offices. She doesn’t regularly cry herself to sleep. She doesn’t spend thousands of dollars trying to do what others can do by mistake.
But she knew secretly her time was up. The optimism had faded long ago, though she pretended to be positive in front of her husband, Matt. She knew long before her sixth failed IVF that there was no more hope.
But the phone call from her doctor three months ago was the excuse she needed to express the doubt she had in her biology.
“You have one last choice,” the doctor told her.
“Whatever it is, I’ll do it,” Karen anxiously replied, a hint of optimism in her brown eyes.
“I have a young woman here. She is looking for a loving couple,” the doctor said.
Karen and her husband didn’t need to discuss it. Thoughts of the normal life they had always envisioned furiously danced through their heads.
But, as she lay in bed in late March, a time when everyone hoped for the sun but only got more snow, she was okay with the fact that no bump would appear there. She understood that her life was traveling down a different path than what she previously expected, and in that moment she was truly accepting that.
Yesterday she got the phone call, again from her doctor. It’s a boy, she told her.
Exactly what she wanted. She could use the name she had always wanted to use; a name dedicated to her deceased sister that meant “a gift from God.”
“Can I come get him?” Karen asked, allowing a smile to appear for the first time in months.
“No, she has 72 hours to change her mind,” the doctor said.
With that, it was harder for Karen to live a normal life than it had been in the years prior; it was three days of wanting to be optimistic, but fighting the urge to out of fear of being let down once again. She was all too used to that.
The doctor stopped by her house early the second day; an envelope was in her hand. In it was a photo of the newborn boy. Karen held the envelope close to her for a long time, finally deciding to put it aside. She would not open it. She couldn’t risk falling in love with him; not yet, not before he was hers.
She got less sleep and could not think about anything except that boy. She tried to read, but 20 minutes in she found herself on the same line. She tried to rest her eyes, but they just flickered back and forth between each corner of her eyelids. She tried to bake, but was too anxious to crack the eggs. She finally decided to get out of the house and shop.
For three days she did whatever she could to occupy and distract herself, but that was like flying a kite in a hurricane. She made sure her husband never strayed far from the landline, hoping and praying for its ring that would signal the doctor’s call.
On the third day, it did. For years Karen had been filled with pessimistic thoughts about what her future would never be, but as her husband held the phone to his cheek, he saw her smile that he missed all too much.
Not too long into the call, he matched her smile, and that was all she needed. She got up, finally cut the tags off the dusty car seat, and hooked it up in the back seat of the Volvo. The couple jumped into the car and drove off, speeding much more then they would on the way back.