On March 17, Nadya Suleman brought home two of her eight premature babies. The professionally plumped and chiseled Angelina look-alike is so well-known that further description of her tale here is unnecessary. She's incited a deafening level of disgust and outrage, all of which has been rightfully redirected to the more relevant demon, AIG, finally purging Suleman from above the fold. Except for right now, right here.
Other than one brief mention in a column a few weeks back, I have not written on the subject because, truth be told, I was deeply conflicted over the matter. Sure, my knee-jerk reaction was one of snorting indignation. But the increasingly bizarre story of Ms. Suleman opened an old wound for me, one with which I've been quickly coming to terms.
My initial and sustained anger, as I've come to realize, stemmed from jealousy. To be clear, I'm not jealous over her giant brood: Having a total of 14 children is tempting mental illness (having eight at once is tromping directly into straightjacket territory). It's not the overwhelming numbers that make me green with envy. What makes me resentful, what makes my heart pulse with a dark, suppressed longing is that Suleman—however she chose to do it—got to experience pregnancy. This broke-ass woman with no moral compass got to carry and give birth to eight beautiful babies, and I didn't even get to do it with one because—and here I'll just come out and say it—I'm barren.
One night, in May of 2004, moments after Sam had stuck my ass with a three-inch syringe filled with the not-so-much-of-a-miracle-conception-drug Clomid, the doctor called. I was still rubbing the stinging injection site with one hand, holding the phone to my ear with the other as he told me the results of a blood test, which revealed my eggs to be cooked. They're scrambled. Over-hard. Custardized. Were you thinking about having an omelet for breakfast?
I'd truly believed I'd made my peace with the fact that pregnancy would not be one of life's experiences I would be checking off the list. And it's beyond difficult to admit now, after having lambasted Suleman to anyone who would listen, that she—a woman I still consider to be a delusional, egomaniacal, self-important opportunist—had something that I didn't. Generally speaking, I do not want what I haven't got; it's sort of a tenet of my personal ideology. To be inflamed with jealousy by such a person is humiliating to the seventh power.
Adoption has been my I-haven't-missed-out-on-a-thing, self-preservation decoy. So there are no words to describe how small I felt as I began to take the proverbial hard look. But feeling microscopic upon admitting the internal volcano to myself was nothing compared to what I felt when I brought it up with my husband. To say there's been an upheaval in our home is to say that Rush Limbaugh is looking a little ruddy and puffy lately.
The problem boils down to this: I want to have a baby.
Let me revise that: I need to have a baby. I have to have a baby. And when I finally said it out loud, when I finally spoke the words after a tearful dinner at Corvette Diner, while Ruby obliviously threw fists-full of Bazooka bubble gum in the air above us, and with The Beatles carelessly bouncing “She loves you, yah-yah-yah!” as a backdrop to the tectonic shift happening right there in the milkshake- and mustard-splattered booth—well, I was breathless as my husband simply stared at me like a mortgage-backed securities buyer watching the foreclosure sign go up in his front yard.
This unhinging desire that's thrown the rotation of our life out of its natural orbit is the byproduct of two months' worth of emergency marriage-counseling sessions. We're no strangers to counseling, but I think I speak for both of us when I say we never imagined we'd be back on the couch for something like this.
We pretty quickly dismissed the idea of separating, so most of the brutal work involved Sam coming to terms with what will need to happen for us to have another child. And while it's not lost on me that the money we're throwing at these extremely expensive twice-weekly sessions could be saved for the IVF round we're going to do next year, I know how badly we need to be talking about this not-exactly-minor decision.
The counselor has said Sam is “abnormal” when it comes to endurance and tolerance of stress. It's really quite startling how much he can bend, compromise, forgive and accept. I don't know a single other person on the planet who would put up with my mind-changing madness and emotional roller-coastering. It's because of love and flexibility that he's agreed to have his vasectomy reversed in late July and with the use of donor eggs we're purchasing from a little-known organization in Zimbabwe, the Petrie dish mash-up and IVF protocol can begin by next summer.
This has not, by any means, been an easy decision, but I've embraced my need. I've finally admitted that I must experience a baby (or several—it is IVF, after all) rolling and stretching in my belly. I need to feel my breasts purpled and engorged, to have stretch marks map my body as proof of my loving gift, to retain water, have my ankles swell, to suffer indigestion, uncontrollable gas, loss of bladder control and hemorrhoids. And I can't wait to experience nine glorious months of orgasm-filled pregnancy sex, followed by years of the little one(s) suckling at my teats. The way I see it, Nadya Suleman doesn't have the market cornered on all of these goodies. If she can do it, so can I. This story was part of our April Fool's Day issue of 2009. Don't believe it.