When my now-4-year-old son, Matthew, who was conceived through in vitrofertilization, runs into the kitchen one of these days and asks me wherebabies come from, what will I say? Even though I write about women's healthfor a living and understood what was happening during the in vitro process,a part of me yearned to create a baby the way my parents, grandparents, andevery other generation in my family had always made babies--the old-fashioned way. But my memories don't add up to the traditional story.
I remember that when I saw on a cardboard strip a little blue dot indicatingI was ovulating, I danced around the bathroom, surrounded by little cups ofmy urine and bottles of activator, thanking God and celebrating that firsttiny step toward motherhood.
My pharmacist was of great assistance in our months-long science project,ordering ovulation predictor kits, ovulation suppression drugs to regulatemy cycle, ovulation stimulation drugs, and more syringes than I care toremember. So when I went into the drugstore one day and told him, "I'mpregnant. Thanks for your help!" the other customers in the store snickeredjust a bit.
I remember that Randy, Matthew's daddy, practiced sticking needles into anorange--said to resemble the flesh on my backside, thank you very much--to learnhow to give me hormone injections that would stimulate egg production.
And Randy mapped out, ahead of time, our entire route home from the medicalcenter after the embryo transfer, noting every bump and pothole. He filledour car's passenger seat with pillows so that we could make our way homewithout disturbing what we hoped was a miracle happening inside of me.
Through the whole process of making a baby with the help of strangers, Randyand I developed a sense of humor that got us through such experiences as histrip to the "donation room" and my hour spent on the "tilt table," my feethigher than my head, after the fertilized eggs were placed in my uterus.
On second thought, maybe some of these details can wait until Matthew's alittle bit older.
What I most want Matthew to know is that he was wanted as much as any childhas ever been wanted. That while his conception was far from a private act,it was filled with great reverence and love.
I want to tell him that lying in bed at home, holding hands with his daddythe night after my eggs were retrieved--asking God to be with our littlefamily and praying that a strong, healthy embryo was forming eight milesaway in that petri dish--was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
I want my little boy to know that while his cells were forming in thatsterile plastic dish, my 7-year-old nephew, his cousin, was drawing apicture of us, showing us holding a baby in our arms, to help us believethat we would really have a child of our own one day.
I want Matthew to be able to picture his daddy experiencing something thatmost fathers will never get to: Randy standing in a quiet, darkened room, lookingthrough a microscope and seeing the six plump cells that would become hisson, just before the doctor placed those cells inside me.
And I want my son to know that last year at our church's family Christmasconcert, my heart filled with love and my eyes with tears as I watched him,wearing his little red Cherub Choir robe, singing "One Small Child, One TinyChild." Because I couldn't help but remember that bringing our own smallchild home from the hospital, on Christmas Day four years earlier, was themost incredible present his daddy and I will ever receive.
When Matthew comes running into the house someday to ask me where babiescome from, I'll tell him the traditional story of how these things usuallyhappen. Then, with my arms around him, I'll tell him his own special story.Because I want my son to know that, while he came to us with some help frommedical science, he is, most of all, a miracle from God.