Words are my way into most things. Language. Give a name to something and it becomes just tangible enough for me to think about it. I need the concrete abstraction of words. So in a way, my concept of our next child – of Bram’s first younger sister or brother – came into being on the night that I sat on our couch, newborn son in my arms, listening to Erin Mckeown’s “You, Sailor.” This song spoke to me. As I held our perfect child, I felt myself beginning to let go – in whole new ways – of the expectation that I would carry a child to term. And as that expectation left me, I felt more and more powerfully the rightness of this path. We get so locked into certain narratives. Finding my way out of that one – out of what felt like centuries of societal expectations – has been elating. I feel healthier and healthier all the time – and more and more convinced that I could carry to term if I wanted to – but it’s lost its power over me. Recently, I looked back at photos we took during our first month of inseminations – two ICIs, at home, just us – and I felt so much sweetness. No pain at all. I love that J and I shared those intimate times. The actual living of them is lovely to me now. I don’t need for them to have led us anywhere other than here.
So these opening lyrics spoke to me:
no longer am i beneath your shelter
all that you have given to me
was never on my behalf
all this, all and more i cede to you
swear away in fealty
as i sail for warmer climes
And then, as I listened on, I came to this:
you, sailor, on the lonely sea
will you turn and promise me
you’ll always be alive
And in that moment, I sensed her (or him) for the first time. I remember the feeling of my first connection with our tiny girl as we prepared my body for pregnancy. And my first tenuous connection with Rabbit River as I learned how to mother a child who was held in a body that was beloved to me, and yet was not mine. I guess what I’m saying is that falling in love is an ineffable process, and for me, with our children, it starts long before I meet them.
So this song gave me a waiting-name for our next child: Sailor. It feels right, and it makes her feel real, and because my wife is generous and trusting, and she knows when to follow, and she knows when to lead, she agreed. Our Sailor. On whatever seas may bring him to us.
So what will those seas be? We don’t know. We won’t really know, I guess, until she’s in our arms. Which could be several years from now. But something’s happened that could (possibly. only possibly.) lead us to her sooner.
I can’t talk about how this happened. Not yet, anyway. But here’s what I can say. We weren’t seeking it out. Not yet. We’ve always said that if children came to us – even if those children didn’t fit the picture we had for our family – we would open our lives without hesitation. But we weren’t planning to put ourselves out there until we left this state and settled somewhere, hopefully for good. Then this opportunity just sort of arrived at our door, and it just keeps unfolding itself before us in ways that are impossible to resist. That we would not choose to resist.
Before anyway gets too excited, there’s no child. No birth mother is considering us. But a small agency has invited us in, and we feel called to try. To some of you, this will sound crazy. Our son is not yet five-months old. Having two children less than a year apart is, if we follow this path, within the realm of possibility (though it is unlikely, as this agency’s average placement takes one to two years). Still, we could be placed in the next year. Or not at all with this agency. There’s no way to know but by waiting.
And unlike both times we tried to conceive, waiting doesn’t feel so bad. There’s something lovely about an open door without desperation. We’re parents now. We’re a small family. I would love to leave this state as a family of four (we did, after all, birth two babies here), but if we’re not a good fit for a birth mother looking for parents for her child, then we’ll leave here as a happy family of three. Either way, we’ll be good.
Because what I lost sight of during our conception process – and what I’m just remembering now – is that we were good as a family of two. When I was looking through our conception photos, I found this old photo from my 31st birthday.
We weren’t married yet. We hadn’t started trying. We hadn’t lost a baby. We weren’t mothers. In some ways, we were whole different people. But we were in love. And what I’m finding as we grow into parents of this sweet sweet boy – and as we consider when, and where, and how our little Sailor might come to us – is that we’re still just deeply in love.
So we have enough love for another child. We have enough time and enough energy. We have enough passion about our little family. We could find enough money. No desperation, just possibilities. Just open doors. Just waiting in joy.