The following is an excerpt from my book, The Truth Swing: It’s Not What They Taught Me in Sunday School.
The room was dark and outside crickets kept a rhythmic chant just past my bedroom door. Beyond the door was a private brick patio with a high wooden fence. Stepping stones wound a path down to the hot tub. Another unmarked path of sorts had been worked through the trees and bushes beyond the wood fence to a dirt driveway crowned with arches of tree branches. A driveway where a truck could hide in secret from the road, from the windows of the kids’ bedrooms upstairs or from the driveway. Even a white truck.
I was awake at the first sound and the crickets became silent. Tires on the dirt and rock ground to a halt. Headlights went dark.
The knock at night.
I opened the door and was swept up into an embrace that took my breath away.
“What are you doing?” I whispered as the door opened.
“I miss you.”
His kiss was homey and comfortable. This was neither a fairy tale nor romance novel. This was a real man, a good man, coming to see me. Missing me. Wanting me. The knock in the night worked its magic. We snuggled close and soon our snores became a soft counterpoint to the cricket staccato.
What are you doing? The voice rang through my head and my eyes opened wide. I sat up like a shot.
What WAS I doing? Who was this person? Who was I? Forty-one years-old with a thickening waist, skin tight around a womb that held growing tissue and blood. Cells splitting and doubling every day. A baby! I have a fulltime career, a man who loves me and four stepchildren that I’m trying to get to trust me, plus my own two getting at that eye-rolling stage.
But I do want a baby. I don’t feel finished. I feel like there will always be a “his” and “mine” without the “ours.” I can do this. I can do a baby. I’ve done it for years alone. If I have to be alone again, I’ll do it. Lord, help me figure this out.
Morning brought the elephant in the living room into sharp focus. What were we going to do about the pregnancy? Mike brought me coffee, toast and an omelet on a tray. I sat up and fluffed the pink pillowcases. He went to pick a rose from outside but as he was coming through the doorway, I threw off the covers and made a beeline for the toilet…head first. Mike was patient while I brushed my teeth and tongue and wiped my mouth with a towel, then sat on the edge of the bed.
“We have to talk,” I said. A relationship-killer if I ever heard one. I wasn’t even embarrassed by the cliché.
He stared at me, didn’t flinch, didn’t whine, didn’t look away.
“It’s not so much about the baby,” I started to explain. “I’m pretty old to be wanting a baby. The thought of picking up a diaper bag and carrying it around until I’m 42 is not a happy thought. But it’s about the family. How can we say we want to try to blend a family and be a new family and not have the one thing that can really make us one, our baby together? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Mike listened, thought a moment, then framed a response carefully. His deep, soothing voice finally spoke.
“There is also the potential that every one of the other kids may feel instantly left out,” Mike said. “We don’t want everyone else to feel abandoned or not a part of a family and that only the baby matters to us. Where will that leave us?”
It was a good point. My two were reaching that age when they disconnect anyway and don’t feel that they matter to anyone, let alone career-mom with a hot husband. Would a baby sever that thin thread of trust that remains between a mom and a teenager? Will I be able to love them enough? Can any mother love them enough when they are twelve and fourteen?
I looked up into Mike’s calm face.
“My gynecologist is a friend. I’ll call her about my decision.”
“Don’t you mean OUR decision?” Mike’s voice was tight, no longer a melodious lullaby.
I looked him in the eye.
“It’s my body. It’s happening to me. I will be the one throwing up every morning, sticking to healthy eating, not drinking wine, assuming the responsibility.
“You will get to choose whether or not to be responsible to raise this child. Men get to walk away and pretty much do walk away most of the time. No shame, no stigma, no sweat. It’s pregnant girls who get thrown out of high school, why not the boys, too? Engaging with family will always be a choice for men! They get to choose every day for the rest of their lives!
I took a breath and swallowed. Mike was looking down.
“My choice is right now.”
“And you’re going to make it alone? Without me?
“Me and God. We are going to make this choice.”
Scripture tells us that words are as powerful as a sword and it’s so true. I could see the cuts in Mike’s hurt eyes.
“My choice is now,” I repeated to Mike.