June 10, 2000: OK, we’ve signed the papers, and I suppose it had to happen this way. I did my part, felt a little funny about it. I suppose the naked woman on the wall was supposed to make it easier. I couldn’t help wondering who she was. I guess the sperm is healthy, and I realize that somewhere, right now, probably in some Petri dish, we’re conceiving. I realized it before I guess, and something about it bothered me even then. I mean, there was this line, this place to initial, on the forms. It said we would let them dispose of the leftover biological material. I asked Dr. Bolton what that meant, “dispose of.” He just waved his hand. “You know,” he said, “just dispose of that stuff.” Funny.
July 12, 2000: No motion, no obvious body changes, but they tell us that our new child is firmly implanted in Rachel’s womb. At last, after all these years, we’re going to have a baby. Assuming all goes well, of course. I know we shouldn’t get our hopes up too much. But you gotta wonder, gotta dream a little. Who will this tiny person be? We didn’t sex-select, so we don’t even know that. I’m kind of glad; I like the wondering.
But I can’t quite get one thought out of my mind: so who then were the others? How many were there? 12? 50? Naw, can’t be 50. A million sperm, but only a dozen or so eggs. So maybe 12. But that’s 12. Just like our one. Guess I need to stop wondering so much.
September 22, 2000: It’s just so astonishing to see Rachel’s face light up, to hear her voice sink to an excited whisper. She feels the baby move! I love to watch her, just sitting there, waiting for the little flutter, “like gas,” she says, but with a beaming smile and a fountain of love. I love her so! And we both love so much this baby, this child of ours.
Yet more and more — only in this diary can I say this — I can’t get out of my mind the others, the “other 12,” as I’ve started to call them. Several times already, Rachel and I have sat quiet and still, my hand on her soft belly, waiting for that little flutter that still only she can feel. And as I waited, two times or more, I lost track, stopped paying attention to Rachel’s softness, her breathing, her delight. And I realized that I was wondering about the other 12. As I wait for the flutter of our child, where are the other 12?
I feel a little troubled about it. But I don’t think I can tell Rachel.
November 2, 2000: It’s life, bounteous and wonderful. She has a face, all those fingers and toes. She (yes, she!) moves and swallows and, I almost think, knows we’re here. I watch her on the scopes. Rachel is clearly in love with her, and in love all the more with me. This is so good. We’ve decided on ‘Kalla’, like the lily. Or like ‘beauty’ in Greek. Here’s one of our pictures (attached) of her.
I still haven’t told Rachel about the others, the other 12. Are there pictures of them somewhere? Do they have names? Only recently I’ve been hit again with Dr. Bolton’s phrase: “dispose of.” So did they become somebody’s research? Did they get flushed down a toilet? Mostly I wonder with both grave fear and a hint of hope if they were just sold to some other couple, one more desperate than even we were. And now they, too, have names, suck their thumbs. Maybe the other 12, like Kalla, have lives of their own, thrilling and delighting some other pair of hopeful parents-to-be. Yet it’s also true that I am their father. Me.
January 4, 2001: Decided against Lamaze; we’re doing Bradley classes. I get to rub Rachel’s big old belly and then her little feet. Kalla is healthy, turned upside down, all the right stuff. Rachel is weary with the wait, the wait and the weight, to use her pun. Actually, she’s not so big, just right, Dr. Bolton says. And of course she carries the burdens happily. She’s so excited.
I mean, I’m excited, too, of course. But I’m distracted. I do enjoy – I love the play with Rachel’s pregnant body. I feel the thrill when Kalla kicks. But there again, every time in the corner of my mind, like a whine in my ear or a twitch in a muscle — there’s the nagging questions about my other children. I don’t talk to Rachel about it, of course, but I know she knows something’s wrong with me. I fear she worries herself about my distraction; she asks about “that look on my face,” (she actually asked). I can’t explain it, don’t even feel quite clear about it myself. But I can’t have Rachel worried about me, so I cover it up. I wave my hand, “It’s nothing.” I wave my hand, like Dr. Bolton did. “You know, just dispose of it.” Of them. My children. And I wonder, in spite of myself, who they are.
January 23, 2001: Kalla came a little early, but everything’s fine. At last, at last! “Mother and daughter doing fine,” you’re supposed to say. And it’s true. It’s a miracle, a glorious miracle that I got to watch, even participate in. Just like rehearsals, even with Rachel’s irrational screams at me. Funny. Now we both laugh. And we both hold Kalla, watch with wonder as she sucks.
So she’s here, after all these months, after all these years of sex and periods and disappointments and tests. The miracle is accomplished, and now we get to raise Kalla, love her forever. And maybe at last I can end this diary; end this one and start another, one about raising Kalla, watching her grow, fill it with pictures of every step and every potty success.
And maybe I can let go of the other 12, my other sons and daughters “out there” somewhere. Maybe I can get them out of my mind. Maybe I can concentrate on Kalla and try not to think of them, though they haunt me like ghosts. Maybe they are just dead. Or maybe not. I don’t even know which would be better.
So I smile and go on. I love Kalla; I love Rachel. But I can’t love the other 12. I just can’t. I mustn’t. So I wave my hand, wave them away.