"Kim, you just need to relax, then you'll get pregnant. I still can't understand why a daughter of mine has any problems. Why your dad would just look at me and then I'd get pregnant."
"Mom, it isn't that easy."
"Are you sure you have done everything? You know I had 13 miscarriages and all you kids."
"I know, mom."
I rolled my eyes as my mother continued her endless litany of all her pregnancies, clueless to my own unsuccessful attempts.
I never thought I could be barren. When growing up, pregnant women, including my own mother, always surrounded me. Their Madonna shaped bodies both fascinated and repulsed me. It fascinated me how their bodies changed, with their watermelon shaped breasts to their stomachs filled to bursting. And the acts of having a child suckle at these same oversized breasts seemed obscene somehow.
After my brother's birth my mother had me come with her into the small crowded bathroom down the hall.
"Look at how much your brother Brent tore me." My eyes followed my mother's finger to her recently shaved crotch. I noticed the stapler stitching with the purple marks running up the side.
"See what you can look forward to." Mother grimaced with pain as she, in her own way, tried to include me in the sorority called Motherhood.
No wonder I feared it. Whenever, as a teen and young adult, I had been around pregnant women it always ended up with my being exposed to secrets I wanted nothing to do with.
When I was just a teenager, my mother's friend, Nancy, staggered into the chapel's bathroom. Her tent size muumuu with its overwhelming explosion of flowers flared out as I quickly stepped out of the way. It seemed as if she was always pregnant. I couldn't understand why she continued with this pattern. She already had 8 kids, with their snot noses and dirt encased faces usually trailing behind.
"Kim, I think I'm having my baby," she calmly told me.
"Oh my God -- don't do this to me!" I ran screaming from the bathroom, pursued by her raucous laughter.
I even had the unpleasant experience of cleaning up after my mother as she started going into labor on the doorstep of our house. She held onto the doorframe crying out as a large, foul-smelling puddle slowly oozed into the house. I cleaned up the mess with the mop, trying not to gag as the stench drifted into my nostrils.
"Kim, are you sure this doctor you're going to knows what she is doing?"
"Mom, she's a specialist. She should know what she's doing. I'm paying her enough."
"Well, you never know with these so-called doctors. Remember when they said your brother Brent would be a twin? He ended up being 13 pounds and tore my insides. You can't believe any doctor.
My mother continued on with her meaningless ramble as I tuned it out. My mind went back to Dr. Frederick's office as I sat down with others waiting to be called in for my latest insemination.
The chairs faced each other like a lone raft with cast off rejects of broken women whose bodies couldn't reproduce. It reminded me of the book The Handmaiden's Tale when all the women who couldn't reproduce were separated from healthy younger women. They were sent to clean up nuclear hazard waste. The reasoning was that the infertile women were useless to society so the others in power had them do the dangerous work.
I picked up a magazine, glancing around at the couple sitting close together, their eyes turned away from me. One other woman read a magazine while her male companion nervously hit a beat on the armrest with his index finger. I always thought it funny how everyone avoided each other's eyes while in the waiting room. Maybe ashamed of our conditions or not wanting to be labeled part of our increasing club.
The door opened. "Kim Rapier."
Hearing my name, I put the magazine down on the glass table and followed the nurse out.
"Do you need to void first?" The nurse asked as she looked in my large manila folder, checking my stats for this morning.
"No, I'm fine." I followed her down the hall lined with Dr. Frederick's trophies of success. Photos of babies, big and small, a collage of international coloring touched each frame. I wanted a photo of my own baby to be part of this. Hungrily my eyes continued looking at the pictures as I stopped in front of a door. The nurse put my folder in the plastic container.
Opening the door the nurse walked over to the sink where one vial stood in a holder.
"Can you check and see if this is correct?" I picked up the lone vial as I read out the name "Michael Rapier. Yes, this is right."
I sometimes wondered what would happen if it wasn't right and the doctor injected it into me? Could I end up with a black baby? Maybe actually get pregnant but by someone else? Or worse yet, being in one of those tabloids with a freak, the result of my doctor's incompetence.
The opaque substance didn't seem to be enough to accomplish its purpose. I put the vial back down.
"Undress in here. Put the blue robe on and Dr. Frederick will be with you in a moment."
I proceeded to take off my clothes. First my shoes, then my pants. Carefully I folded my underwear under my pants so the doctor wouldn't catch a glimpse of my slightly soiled pantyshield.
I put on the nondescript sky blue robe and climbed onto the table. Reaching over, I pulled the heavy blue drapes across as I waited for the doctor. The office is located on the 5th floor and I often looked out the large side window to pass the time. I watched the people below hurrying like ants to their destinations as though life continued normally.
"Hi, Kim. How's everything?" I looked back as Dr. Frederick walked to my side. Her brown eyes looked small hidden behind her oversized glasses as she looked at my file. I always thought this was a dumb question to begin our session with, considering how I was in this modern day torture session with her catheter, the means of forcing life into me.
"Oh, I'm ok."
"Everything's looking good. Come on down to the end of the table." I pushed my rear down, slightly tearing the thin paper shield underneath as I put each foot into the stirrups.
"You need to come further down." I slid down some more and opened my legs to the doctor's inspection. My dried out enclosure waited for its monthly injection.
Dr. Frederick got the smallest catheter and proceeded to put it into my vagina.
"How's class going?" Dr. Frederick asked while she opened the catheter.
"Oh, fine." The cold foreign object was met with resistance as my muscles started to contract. I felt my muscles strain to push out the object as I grabbed the rail next to me.
"Kim, calm down," the doctor told me, her voice calm and reassuring, as she opened the catheter. The loud pop as she opened the catheter ricocheted around the room.
"Now I'm going to insert. Think happy thoughts."
The cold slimy liquid went into my passage. I imagined it swimming through my reproductive system looking for one of my few ripe eggs.
"Now, you need to stay down for 10 minutes. Call us if nothing happens in a week so we can do a blood test. Good luck!"
The doctor pulled the drapes back across and I heard her slowly close the door. Lying back I asked myself, Why was I here? That was easy to answer. I was a 39-year-old whose body couldn't get pregnant. Will it work this time? Under my breath I said my own mantra to God or anyone who could answer my prayer. Hell, I would even pray to the fertility god Dr. Frederick kept in her office if it meant having my own baby. Once, when the doctor left her office I walked over and rubbed the massive, Buddha-like stomach, saying a quiet prayer.
"Kim, just calm down and you'll get pregnant." My mother's voice brought me back to her phone call.
"Let me know if anything happens."
"I will, Mom."
If only it was that easy. The treatments didn't work and I was the outcast amidst a growing number of both teachers and women at church who were getting pregnant. Maybe they could pass that miracle drink along to me. And once I drank from its depths I could also begin the elusive journey I so longed for.
Bio: Kim is a first grade teacher for Tustin Unified School District. She is currently taking writing classes from Writer's Digest Writing School. Her work has appeared in Our Journey, Beginnings Magazine, Thought Magazine, Kota Press, and Poetic License. She is currently in the process of writing her memoirs. There is a happy ending to her story "Unanswered Prayer." In June, she and her husband adopted a beautiful baby boy.
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