There’s not many times in your life when complete strangers become sought-after friends. After realizing that a) we were related, and that b) our husbands shared the same name (and good-looking HBH genes), we said WE GOTTA DO THIS! and relished in the time they spent in San Francisco this past winter. So I’m gonna warn you: Cathy’s got a beautiful story to tell, and you may just have tear-filled eye ducts at the end of today’s journey.
A voicemail. It was only one minute and eight seconds long…but it saved my life. It changed our lives. Forever.
It was just after 5 PM. I nervously collected my things that Thursday evening from my 1st grade classroom on Chicago’s south side. I had been thinking about this moment all day. I could not focus. I had survived another day with my rowdy group of 28 six year olds, as well as the professional development we had every Thursday after school. Finally, for better or worse, we would know. That voicemail had been sitting there waiting to be listened to for hours. I had promised my husband James that we would listen to it together. We were going to find out whether or not we were pregnant.
The road to this point had not been an easy one. It had stretched an interminable nine years. Nine years of trying to have a baby is a VERY LONG time. It wore on me…on us…on our relationship. It was this specter that hung over us. This other person that we wanted to be there that wasn’t, and whose absence we mourned every day…even though we had never met them. People asked us when we were first married, “When are you guys going to have a baby?” or “You just need to relax! It will happen when it’s supposed to happen.” Women would tell me what books to read, what time of the month to have sex, how I should prop my butt up with pillows afterwards. I became obsessed. I read every fertility book out there. Took all the advice I was given. Tried to not “think” about it. But how could I NOT think about it? It seemed that everyone I knew was getting pregnant. Why couldn’t we get pregnant? What was wrong? We were good people and would make great parents.
A few years stretched into many. Friends went on to have not just one baby, but many babies. Complete families…two and three kids or more. People stopped asking us, “When are you going to have kids?” It had been so many years, people either knew there was something wrong, or thought we didn’t want them. And still it was eating away at us. We saw many doctors…and they all gave the same diagnosis, “unexplained infertility”.
We stopped thinking about getting pregnant for several years. Lived in New York City, travelled, enjoyed just being married. Reconnected. Relaxed. Lived life. Tried acupuncture and herbal remedies in hopes of healing my body naturally. None of it led to a pregnancy. We started to seriously consider adoption.
In the spring of 2012, we thought we were pregnant…and then found out we weren’t. I called my mother. She said, “I am so sorry. I wish there was something I could do.” I cried…and cried. A deep cry down from the depths of my soul…a soul that was broken. I could not stop. I sat there in my Toyota Corolla, pulled over on the side of the road less than a mile from home, and cried with my mother on the other end of the line. I asked her, “Why is God doing this to me? Why? I don’t understand.” “I don’t know,” she said. “I really don’t know.”
After I hung up the phone, I sat there in my car and said a prayer out loud. I asked God to please, just give me ONE baby. Just one. I used to have dreams of a bigger family. I did not want my child to be an “only child” like I was. But I was in the bargaining stage. “Please God, just give me one baby. Just one. I will do whatever you want.”
On this Thursday evening, in our car, outside of my school…we would find out if God had heard and answered my desperate prayer that day. We nervously pressed play. “Hi Cathy, its Tina from Dr. Sherbahn’s office. I’m calling to let you know you had a positive HCG result today…so congratulations….”. She went on to say other things about follow up and coming in for an ultrasound…but it was all a blur. I was pregnant. I could not believe it. James looked at me with astonished joy…”We are pregnant, baby!” I felt like I was in a dream. I needed to be pinched. Was this really happening?
Since our son Evan was born on May 23, 2013, my life has been full of those “pinch me” moments. I take NOTHING for granted. Every little moment is a tear-inducing miracle. If almost a decade of infertility gave me anything, it was the gift of realizing that no moment is small. I cherish them all…every milestone, every cry, every laugh, every snuggle. He is our miracle.
Cathy Meredith is a full-time stay at home mom with her 11-month-old son, Evan. Currently, Cathy and Evan are accompanying hubby/daddy James Vincent Meredith on his national tour of the musical, The Book of Mormon. Before becoming a stay at home mom, Cathy worked as an elementary school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools for four years. Prior to her career as a teacher, she worked for ten years in the not-for-profit world as a Program Director for an arts-education organization. She loves travel, photography, being an amateur “foodie”, and writing (when she has time!). You can find her on Facebook here. So, what can you say to encourage our friend today? Leave her love!