The doctor held out my test results, two 3×3 inch black and white Rorschach blobs.
“You won’t be having any of your own children.” She tilted her head a bit to the side in what I took to be her effort at doctor – patient empathy. After years of trying to get pregnant, I was not surprised at the diagnosis.
I scanned the obscure pictures hoping to understand this medical verification of my infertility. Apparently she expected me to see what she could see: the puddled dye from the failed dye test, the blocked tubes, the scar tissue and rogue endometrial cells. I saw amorphous shapes that looked more like an abstract watercolor than a clinical message to start contacting adoption agencies.
I asked her to explain the pictures, again. She sighed.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. It is very clear. Nothing can get through. I’m sorry.”
She didn’t sound sorry. She sounded bothered.
I pushed. “I don’t see the blockage. I don’t see the dye.” I don’t feel blocked either, I wanted to say.
I left the medical center and called my husband from the parking lot. He was calm, understanding and plainly factual. “Well, we knew this might happen. Let’s go forward.”
In the coming weeks and months I called several adoption agencies, sent for information and started a new sales job. It was winter and I was selling garden supplies. My schedule was full, having to run around to ten or fifteen garden centers in a single day as they prepared and bought for the upcoming growing season. My car carried samples of fancy pruners, planting boxes and bags of fertilizer instead of the baby seats, diapers and spit-up that I hoped for. I was fine though. I was on auto-pilot. Just get through the day.
April was a wet month with record flooding in Chicago. Water filled up the basement of our home, dribbling in from the eighty year old walls as we desperately tried to fill the holes with our fingers and hydraulic cement. Two days later there was the dross of pictures, extra furniture and high school mementos that had to be trashed. Physical ideas of what life used to be were let go in a day.
The Illinois countryside was my sales territory. From mom and pop garden stores to chains of big box stores I peddled hundreds of lines of potting soils and hoses, grass seed and bird seed. I was determined to find my future in the green industry, a gentle, quiet business of beauty.
One day, out near Oswego, south and west of nowhere special, I stopped into Taco Bell and got my usual two hard shells and a diet Pepsi. Then I went next door to Walgreen’s and bought a pregnancy test. I was killing time until my next appointment. It was a moment of fantasy, like trying on a wedding dress before you’ve even met the guy. It’s just fun to shop.
That night, as I lay in bed watching my husband criss-cross the room as he arranged his things for the next day, I quietly waited for the moment that would change his life forever. The test I took in the bathroom at Taco Bell was positive. He stopped and smiled.
“Is that why you waited to send in the big check to the adoption agency?” I had no idea why I waited, but I think it had something to do with a mother’s intuition.