The final moments of delivery were just that – moments. A moment of Kara being transferred onto a gurney and rolled into an elevator. A moment of a blue tent being draped over her and a bright light blinding her vision. Not quite a moment of her counting backward from one-hundred.
Ninety-nine. Ninety-eight. Ninety-seven.
And then there was stillness. The bright light tunneled into darkness and she rested.
It had been a very long road to these final moments. When Kara and Chris were married ten years earlier, they immediately wanted a child. Children. As many as their suburban home could hold. Months went by, boxes of wedding gifts were unpacked, and room by room they made their house into a home. One room was painted yellow and housed the crib given to Kara by her mother. Chris bought a tiny football. Kara bought tiny ruffled socks. Together, each month, they hurriedly opened the box of pregnancy tests, and together, each month, they sighed and hugged each other as they read the results. Negative.
“It’s me,” Kara said after the first year of trying to conceive. “I know it’s me. My periods have always been irregular, so I know it has to be me.” But visit after visit to first a gynecologist and then a fertility specialist confirmed that Kara was perfectly capable of conceiving a child. Each time the doctor’s report came back fine for Kara, Chris became more frustrated. Unlike Kara, he wasn’t as eager to shoulder the blame for their difficulties.
A man’s man, Chris was an athlete who won at everything he attempted. He was a fast runner, a great thinker, a proficient planner, and was not accustomed to losing anything. He hated swimming, but he swam better than most other competitors during his latest triathlon. He had never played Monopoly as a child, but beat Kara’s father handily on their first family game night. He was the kind of man who could give a tearful speech at a wedding without a moment’s preparation. He was never at a loss for anything.
It was Chris’ mother who convinced him to have his sperm count checked after five years of trying for a baby. A good southern woman, she wanted a grandchild, damn it, and it was time he did something about it. He went for his first visit without consulting Kara, as he was sure they would not be a problem and thus there was no need to worry her. He was, as he normally was not, wrong. Subsequent visits to the urologist proved that his sperm count was very low, beyond the point that they would likely conceive.
For three years thereafter, they considered their options. Adoption. Sperm donor. Buying small dogs and dressing them in sweaters. Their first consultation with an adoption agency had proven disappointing, as they were told their income level was unlikely to make them candidates for local adoption. They pursued a foreign adoption, and after saving for a year, they were able to travel to Guatemala and meet the family of the child they had prepared so meticulously for. After a week in Guatemala, the mother tearfully exclaimed she couldn’t give up her only daughter. They left empty handed and empty hearted.
Chris reluctantly agreed to go the route of a sperm donor, “reluctantly” being an understatement. He returned home from his work as a realtor one evening to find Kara, bags packed, sitting at the dining room table.
“I’m having this donor thing done, with or without you,” she said. “I need a child. You’re either going to support me or not, and if you aren’t, I will support myself.”
And so he found himself standing with her a week later at the doctor’s office, holding her hand, while another man did what he had failed to do.
The weeks of morning sickness, which would have been unbearable to most women, were a celebration for Kara. She never felt worse or better in her life. As her belly grew, so did the acceptance from Chris. He put aside his pride the first time he felt the baby move inside his wife’s womb. He trusted her, and he knew she had made the right decision. They would be a family. There would be no reason for this child, nor anyone else, to know that he was not the biological father. It would be the three of them, a team, a whole family, and no matter how it came about, it was all that mattered.
The morning Kara went into labor, Chris was out of town negotiating the sale of a retail space. He broke every law and ordinance to get to the hospital, but when he arrived, he was told she was already in the operating room. The drop in the baby’s heartbeat was significant and an emergency Caesarean section was necessary. Chris sat in the waiting room, sweating, waiting for something.
Kara opened her eyes and was still in the operating room. The bright light was no longer shining, and around her was a bustle of activity.
“Hi, Kara, do you want to see your son?” said a nurse.
She opened her mouth but could not speak. Onto her breasts was placed a tiny package in a blue blanket. His cheeks were plump and his lips were puckered into a perfect red heart. He opened his tiny dark blue eyes and looked right at his mother. A tear fell from Kara’s eyes as she burst into love. He was her Jonah. And he was perfect.