Last week my friend had a baby boy. He is a healthy eight pounds with pink cheeks and a soft bald head. He is her first, and likely her last. When I saw the grainy cell phone photo of him in his yellow duckling cap, I found myself wiping away tears. She is one of my oldest friends. Somewhere I have photos of us in our Brownies uniforms and at our kindergarten graduation.
While this is certainly a happy occasion, none of this sounds especially unusual. Except it is.
My friend and her husband have been waiting for this day for fourteen years. She knew when she was a teen that she’d have trouble conceiving. So they began trying almost as soon as they got married. There were four or five rounds of in vitro treatments involving countless shots, pills, doctor’s appointments, sonograms, and monitoring, not to mention the accompanying nausea, headaches, bloating, hot flashes and general crankiness. I’m barely scratching the surface. Then there was the emotional toll every time the tests came back negative, every time someone she knew accidentally got pregnant or had sex once and got pregnant or, worse, tried for six months without getting pregnant and became inconsolable.
Many times I wondered, why? Why continue to put yourself through this? I would see how terrible she would feel and want her to save herself from the anguish. I would almost wish it for her, if that makes sense It’s okay to move on. It’s okay to say that this dream isn’t going to come true. It’s what I would have done. Fourteen years is a long time. I didn’t understand it.
Ah, but I do. And it wasn’t until I saw that baby’s photo that I realized it. Having a baby despite the odds was her dream and having my novel published despite the odds is mine. You know, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. I have been waiting for my novel to be published. I have spent almost as many years as she writing and revising, combing for agents, revising more, workshopping, revising some more, calling my agent, calling my agent, calling my agent. (Hallooo?) Like my friend, I’ve taken breaks, but I always come back because it’s my dream.
I’m sorry that I only now realized what an inspiration she is. Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” And she didn’t. She persisted and persevered because she believed. She has encouraged me to do the same.