Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unexpected E-mail

Yesterday, my good friend Sam texted me and told me to check my email, that she had sent me something she wrote without ever planning on showing me. Here is what I found..

Miracles do exist.

They do. I never believed it until about five months ago. Previously, I believed good things can happen. Even unlikely things come to pass once in a while. Sometimes sheer will and sometimes prayer and sometimes active pursuance can help usher a desired event to transpire. But in the end, I believed what would be would be. But I have found that miracles do exist: and they are far more profound than a mere occurrence or dumb luck. This is the story of a miracle I personally witnessed.

We were sixteen. In a gross, purple padded field house gymnasium: Physical education class- the advanced version. It was funny, but we still felt honored to be part of the PE Team Leaders program. Today, I cannot explain it. Typically, I looked forward to PE. But not this day. It was the first day, and though I had many friends- none were in this class. There were acquaintances, but many had been paired off already with his or her good friends. I felt like the kid at the dance with no date. Except I couldn’t just lean up against a wall. I had to pick a badminton partner. Couldn’t the teacher just pick for us? I hated this. But then it was over. “Hey, you wanna be partners?” an outgoing, cheery girl asked. “Yeah, sure!” I replied, excited and impressed at her self esteem to just approach a stranger. I was surprised she could approach a girl she’d never talked to before. I certainly didn’t have that courage. Strange. I sound like a coward. But it was high school. What can you expect?

Her name was Erin. She was short, very petite, blonde with blue eyes. She actually tried in gym class. She didn’t act like she didn’t understand how to do something. She was extremely talkative, and yet a great listener. What I liked most about her was our demeanor. We were very alike. We both talked as well as we listened, and we shared common interests and abilities. She also had a terrific memory, something I had always prided myself on. For once, I felt like there was someone who I had to keep up with on an actual human level. I had had friends that challenged me academically and friends that challenged me athletically. But never had I had a friend that challenged me on a personal level. She was a good person. I don’t think people could have met her and not liked her. Some of our most common interests were country music, delicious foods (many of which we liked to devour while we ran our warm up laps in phys ed), and children. Yes, children. We were but children, yet at this point in our lives would have been insulted if anyone tried to point that out.

At the young and innocent age of sixteen, I knew I wanted to be a mother. More than anything. All my friends thought I was crazy, so I often didn’t flaunt this. But it was true. If I could have fast forwarded my life at the age of sixteen to the still unknown age when I would be a mother- I would have in a heartbeat. I adored kids. I had baby names picked out. Ten, to be exact. Erin adored kids, too. She wanted five or six. She had names also. We shared the names and giggled at the thought of being moms together. I liked more traditional baby names, she liked the unique ones. I teased her she would have to babysit my kids for free for me from time to time. She liked the idea. She would give me advice about fertility. This might seem weird, but at the time Erin had worked in a fertility clinic. This, I though, suited her. She got to see pregnant women. But she knew what to do and what not to do. I first learned from her that caffeine intake could affect a woman’s fertility. I had no idea! She also mentioned she’d never go on the pill, because all too often women came in who after being on the pill for ten years suddenly wanted to become pregnant – and could not conceive. The birth control pills were to blame. She vowed to never endanger her fertility. I took notes. I never wanted to face fertility issues. While I was still learning, I had heard they were expensive!

Erin was an aunt at this time. Her nephew’s name was Mikey and he and I shared the same birthday, albeit twelve years apart. She adored Mikey. Everyday, she had a new story about how he was growing and the cute things he would say, do or wear. It was through her interaction with her nephew that I first realized that she was more experienced than me. Whenever I would babysit, I’d always leave the house at the end of the night frustrated: I would be hoping motherhood wasn’t like babysitting. I was exhausted and the kid cried too much. I would tell myself it wouldn’t be like that when it was my baby, and I know deep inside a part of me appreciated the denial. But Erin never faltered. She never wavered in her desire for motherhood. Mikey’s tantrums and dirty diapers did not deter her. She was different. She was destined to be a mom. I never heard her talk passionately about a career, a lifestyle, a hobby. Her enthusiasm showed when she talked about her best friend Jamie, animal crackers, Hummers and most of all: motherhood. She had other interests, no doubt, and she was a popular girl. But nothing ever compared to the look in her eye when she thought about being a mother.

Erin and I continued to be friends for that year in gym class, although we never hung out outside of school. I don’t even think we had each other’s phone numbers. But we did have a mutual respect. It was funny, because as a varsity athlete- I had always considered myself to be talented in the athletic department. I was capable, and even excelled in some areas. But Erin excelled in every area. I envied her a bit, but who could really when she was just so real? She truly was the depiction of a Midwestern, down to Earth, solid girl. The one all men hoped their daughter would be like.

Fast forward to the beginning of college. We were freshmen. The year was 2005. We hung out for the first time outside of high school gym class. Erin invited me to her parents house to catch up. I had never been there. I was a little hesitant, but mostly just interested. I only stayed about an hour. We just talked about school. She had started off at Lewis University, but she withdrew shortly after. She realized community college would be a more economically intelligent choice. She was smart. But luckily, Lewis was not for nothing. She had met a man. And she was different. He was the one. She was sure of it. I felt like a little girl. I will never forget kneeling on the carpet of her basement floor, I’m sure what was a look of pure astonishment was wiped across my face as I grilled her about what seemed to me the most elusive part of life. But, like how do you know? She looked up for a moment, then met my gaze. I just realized one day that theres not another man I’d ever want to kiss. Good answer. Then I wondered, does she not even want to kiss Brad Pitt? Wow. This must be love. So where is he now?, I had inquired. He’s with his best friend Brad. He’ll come by later tonight. A boys night. Oh, that’s nice. I’m happy for you. I meant it. She was different.

Erin invited me to a party she intended to throw in a couple weeks. I rounded up some mutual friends, and playing the designated driver- I went. It was late October. Again, I didn’t stay long. She was drunk. She fell down her stairs. Her boyfriend was there. His name was Tom. He seemed decent, though we didn’t talk. Just a brief introduction. I assume the rest of the night he was just picking her up from her stumbles when she would collapse on the group in a drunken fit of giggles. When I left, I caught Tom’s gaze. His eyes were green and looked strangely, though rightly, proud. I said “take good care of her”. I am, he promised. He was. He is.

Unbeknownst to me, Erin and Tom wed in May 2006. The ceremony was a civil one at the courthouse with few witnesses. She wore a ring and told everyone she was engaged. But they kept their love secret to themselves: they were happily married. On May 18, 2007 they had a wedding. I went. It was the most beautiful wedding I have to this date ever been to. Mostly, the beauty was in the blushing bride. For years, I had known she wanted to be a wife and mother more than anything. She was on her way. She was doing exactly what I hoped to do. By this time, I was a little older and enjoying the black out drunk nights of college. At this time, I knew I personally wasn’t ready for marriage or motherhood. But I always understood that in no way was similar to Erin. Erin was born ready. So I looked on, imagined my wedding would be similar (or hoped it would be, anyway) and I cried with joy. I cry easily. Almost too easily. No, definitely too easily. Regardless, everyone agreed the wedding was beautiful. The young couple was very much in love and it was the definition of intoxicating.

They had bought a home in Indiana. They were moving. I was sad she would be further, but it didn’t make too much of a difference. Now I had a reason to visit Indiana, and to be perfectly honest I didn’t see her all that often anyway. They had built their home. It was anyone’s dream home. Truly, if you picture your dream home now: This was it. And Erin made it a home. She has great taste, excellent decorating skills and still a practical mind. When I visited their home, I never wanted to leave. It was more comforting than my parents house!

I remember that I asked Erin in our talks prior to the wedding when she and Tom planned to start their family. Immediately. I knew it. Everyone knew it. Their children would be beautiful, Erin would be an brilliant and attentive mother and Tom would be the luckiest man on Earth. I couldn’t wait.

But I would have to. Erin and Tom encountered what would turn out to most likely be the most devastating and excruciating experience of their young lives: Infertility.

By July 2007, two months after their wedding but fourteen months after their marriage: They were still not pregnant. I remember Erin told me if she wasn’t pregnant by then, she would start to worry. But I thought this was ludicrous. They would have to be pregnant. This is Erin. If there were to ever be anyone who had trouble getting pregnant, it certainly wouldn’t be her. But it was.

I started to think it was Tom’s fault. I worried for him. What would happen if he were sterile? What kind of sick joke is God playing? He was her dream man.

Tom turned out not to be the problem. In fact, he definitely was not the problem. But Erin was healthy too. So why were they not getting pregnant?

Erin struggled through infertility. She was hopeful and optimistic, but never let her hopes raise too high. She always stayed grounded. That made me sad. She was being strong for herself, her husband, her mom, her sister, all her friends and family- myself included. She was being strong for us. Where Erin got that strength will forever remain a mystery to me. What the hell was going on? I would pray to God and explain my situation. Erin would make a terrific mother. I knew it. Why did he let crack whores and unwed teenagers get pregnant? Give one of those babies to Erin and Tom! They wanted to be parents! And they would make amazing parents! Why? This was the only question I could ask. It literally made me physically sick to wonder what she and Tom must have been going through. I still can’t think about it. I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy.

She went through shots, pills, gels, lotions and tests like it was her job. She had gained so much knowledge about fertility that I had never even knew existed. She was stressed, and it was starting to show. Her typical, bright self was clouded by a deep sadness. She wanted to make her husband a father. She wanted to be a mother. That’s all she ever wanted. Its what she lived her life for. Everything she did, she did for her unborn child. Would she never become a mother?

I never let myself entertain such a horrendous, disgusting nightmare. She had to be a mother.

In January 2009 Erin began IVF. Never had I thought it would come to this. With every new gel or pill Erin had tried in the past, I was optimistic. It was Erin! Surely, this time it would work. But when she started IVF, I felt sick. It’s a 50% chance, she had told me excitedly. Oh no. That’s terrific, I lied. Only 50%? That’s not enough. I was worried. I needed her to have a 100% guarantee! I can’t see her heartbreak once more. And if I could not see that happen again, what about Tom? Her sister? Her mother? What about Erin? Could she feel her heartbreak again? Their insurance money was running out. They had paid thousands upon thousands. This was it.

It was. February 28th, 2009 Erin came to my apartment. She was three weeks pregnant.

I was expected to keep it a secret. Tom and Erin had planned a surprise announcement. I couldn’t react. I was dying on the inside. No, wait. I wasn’t dying. I was living. I can’t explain the joy I felt. That day, I knew all was right in the world. It baffles me, still, how I could have been so affected by Erin’s pregnancy. I still could not explain it to you. Maybe it’s because for the first time I actually had to recognize that pregnancy truly is a gift. Not a common happening for everyone, but something that is worked for.

Erin is now nearly 9 months pregnant.

I can’t believe it. For the first five months of the pregnancy, by the way, Tom and Erin were under the impression they were having a girl. The ultrasound was not correct. Two later ultrasounds confirmed their sweet angel was actually a boy.

I am about 99% sure that Tom and Erin could not have jumped through more hoops or over any more hurdles in their pregnancy.

Erin and her unborn son are in my prayers every day. I cannot wait to follow their lives. I cannot wait to witness first hand the amazing mother she is, the fun loving yet protective father I know Tom will be. Mostly, though, I am excited to meet this boy. This boy that I feel like I have known for years. It is almost too much to contain the excitement I have for finally meeting this long awaited angel. He will be, as will be any child of Erin’s, cherished. He will undoubtedly be perfection. He will surely be handsome, funny and sharp. He will probably be spoiled. He will hopefully be a White Sox fan. He will definitely be loved.


Bailey said...

Wow... that is a touching letter!

Carol said...

What a wonderful friend to have.

Jess said...

What a beautiful letter and wonderful friend to have!


The Patterson's said...

What a great friend! How sweet to really know how someone feels about you.

Joy said...

Very sweet that she wrote all of that!

Stephanie said...

WOW..what a beautiful letter. How awesome to be able to re-read that over and over..what a great gift from a special friend!!

twondra said...

soooo sweet. What a wonderful friend!! And it was great to learn more about you too!

kim_brough said...

Did she write this for a college class? Well written, except for the whole White Sox thing. :-)

Allison said...

Wow. This brings tears to my eyes. You have a wonderful friend, Erin and I am excited for you guys to meet and enjoy your little man. She is right... anyone can see... you are meant to be a mother :)

Mike and Katie said...

that is so sweet! it's wonderful to know you're friends share your joy and pain.

Staci said...

That was very touching. Thanks for sharing it with us. I hope you print this off and put it in the baby book so your son can read it one day. I have a letter in my book that my mom's sister wrote to her the night she was in labor with me.

Jessica said...

This is so amazing. What an awesome friend!

Rebekah said...

What an awesome gift from your friend. Im so happy to celebrate your arrival to full term. Blessings for your babys birthday

kim_brough said...

Tell me again/show me the post about why the 2 different dates-- one for the marriage and the other for the wedding. Seems like I remember reading that somewhere....

hopefuls #1 said...

What an awesome email, an awesome friend and a beautiful story!!! Sooooo happy for you!