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The rain had been falling steadily, making a miserable day seem even worse. Katie sat in the dining room watching the pattern the raindrops made on the glass. She wondered if they were like snowflakes, no two the same.
The teakettle began to whistle and she headed into the kitchen to put her blackberry tea on to steep. A tear slipped off her cheek and landed on the dark green countertop, leaving a round, wet spot where it landed. It looks like a hole, she thought. "Like the hole in my heart and the hole in my life," she mumbled as a fresh flood of tears welled over her lashes.
Alex and Katie Davidson had been trying to conceive for almost two years. The first year the doctor said they were probably just trying to hard. "Just take your mind off of it for a while and maybe it will work out okay," he had told them.
But after the first year went by without so much as even a false alarm, the doctor began putting them through testing. Katie, he said, had scaring and evidence of uterine fibrosis. Alex turned out to have a low sperm count, though he was convinced the doctor had to be wrong about that. That was one thing that bothered Katie about her husband. How could he be so cruel to believe it was all her problem? He was very reluctant to even have himself tested. She assumed it had something to do with diminishing his manhood, but she thought it was damn arrogant of him anyway. Not to get the wrong idea, she was very much in love with Alex; they just didn't always see eye to eye on things-especially things where blame could be laid.
The doctor put Alex on hormones to increase his sperm count and Katie was put on Clomid to help her ovulate. Doctor Hampton explained that this would dramatically increase the chance for a multiple birth. She thought that twins would be fantastic, but what if it was triplets or quadruplets? She told the doctor that she wanted a baby or two, not a litter!
When Katie's ovulation predictor showed it was time, they went in for the procedure. Alex was grumbling about having to 'perform' at the doctor's office. And the worst part, he said, was when he had to give the container to the nurse. Katie laughed as she tried to get comfortable on the exam table and asked if he would rather trade places with her? Doctor Hampton and his nurse entered the room before he could respond. Alex held Katie's hand as the doctor carefully placed the sperm in her uterus and capped it off with a diaphragm. Katie's discomfort was obvious, but she still managed a smile for her husband when it ended. Though he never answered her question, he decided his job had been the easier.
When Katie's period wasn't on time, as it normally was, she was ecstatic and quickly phoned for an appointment. She even felt nauseous and tender, though she thought it might be too early to start with symptoms. She didn't know all the answers, but she was certain that this time they had finally done it.
Doctor Hampton's nurse, Margaret, was just as excited as Katie as they talked in her cubical waiting for the test results. Margaret was a middle-aged woman with a stocky build and an effervescent personality. Her speech was thick with southern charm and grace. She had been there for Katie to confide in the first year when the anticipated didn't occur. She tried to dispel Katie's worries and she always knew what to say to make her feel hopeful again, though the situation continued to get bleaker with the passage of time.
It would only be ten minutes before Katie would get her results, but it felt like an eternity. Margaret checked the test strip and the smile faded from her face.
"I'm sorry hon, it's negative. Sometimes these are wrong when it's early like this. Do you want to do the blood test?"
"Yeah, let's do it. I've just got to be pregnant Margaret. Today makes seven days late; what else could it be?"
"I don't know hon, but if this is still negative, we'll have Doctor Hampton take a look at you, okay?" she said, giving her a sympathetic glance.
When the second test came back negative, Katie was sent in to see the doctor. The examination revealed that, to top off her lousy day, she now had an infection in her uterus. This was the reason for her delayed period, and it also explained the nausea and tenderness. The doctor's mundane attitude irritated her even more and she was starting to convince herself that she needed to find a different doctor-one that knew what he was doing!
But anger did little to overcome the depression that was looming over her like the dark clouds that had settled over the sky that day. Her despair was as evident as the teardrops that stained her face. With a warm and comforting hug from a moist-eyed Margaret, she left for home.
Katie took her cup of blackberry tea and headed for the bed. The soft worn mattress, cozy sheets and fluffy pillows were like the arms of an old friend taking her in and holding her like no one else knew how. Getting comfortable, she sipped the piping hot tea until the toll of her emotional day caused her to put down the cup and give way to sleep.
She jerked wide-awake at the sound of tires in the driveway. It was Alex; he was home. Glancing at the clock in disbelief she didn't realized that she had slept so long. "I didn't set anything out for dinner!" she said aloud as she hurried down the hall. If I can't be a mother, she thought, at least I could try to be a better wife.
Alex was already in the door shaking off the rain like an old hound. "What's for dinner? All I can smell is blackberry tea!" He had a half smirk on his face until he looked at her. He was unaware that she had gone to the doctor, although he knew just as well as she did that her period was late. From the look on her face he figured that her period must have started or something else happened. "What's a matter babe? Are you okay?" Katie felt her composure shatter to a thousand pieces, like glass falling on stones. "No, I'm not okay!" The tears began to pour down. "I thought for sure I was pregnant, so I took the day off to go to the doctor's office for a test and-and I'm not pregnant. I've got some stupid infection and. .. . " That was enough said as Alex pulled her into his arms and let her sobs rock through her. He stroked her soft hair and kissed her temple. His kisses somewhat soothed the beast that had begun to pound inside her head. "Shhh, shhh, it's okay babe, it's okay." He held her just a little longer and then tilted her chin up to his face and kissed the tip of her nose. "Oh man! Have you seen what all this crying does to your face? Wow, look at those raccoon eyes!" he said referring to the smeared mascara. He gave her his half-cocked grin hoping to lighten the moment. "Any other bad news you might be holding out on me?" he said, still keeping his screwed-up face. Katie smiled only slightly. "Yeah, and I don't have anything ready for supper either!" she added disgustedly.
"No supper!" he said, being a little too dramatic.
Katie's lip stuck out in a dejected pout, but before she could say anything, he smiled a softer smile and mentioned going out for dinner. They were on a pretty strict budget so Katie usually cooked; dinner out would have been appealing but the thought of going back out in that drizzling rain (not to mention cleaning up her disastrous face) wasn't. "How about ordering in?" she offered.
Alex breathed an obvious sigh of relief. He really didn't want to go out, but he felt he should offer. "Whatever you want babe is fine with me." Then he cautiously added, "How 'bout pizza?"
"Pizza sounds great," Katie said, as she felt the burden of her day lifting and her tear-stained face began to find the smile it had before she went to the doctor's office. "Alex," she said softly, "I love you."
"I love you too, babe," he said as he put a tender kiss on her lips that told her he meant it.
Katie and Alex had been together since high school. They met at a football game. Katie was a freshman at Vero High School and Alex was a junior at Port St. Lucie High. The schools were long time rivals, and football was the pinnacle of the rivalry. They met at the concession stand. Katie was getting a coke when Alex, busy fixing his hot dog, tried to open a ketchup baggie by squeezing it. Instead of getting it on his hot dog, he got himself and Katie. In an instant he had a cute little auburn-haired girl very angry. She called him a jerk and a few other choice words, but Alex turned on the charm. Her anger melted away and she felt as if she had just met the cutest and funniest guy on the planet. He wanted her home phone number, but she didn't think her parents would approve. Alex was undeterred; by the fourth quarter he talked her into it.
Katie was an only child and often felt she couldn't have chosen better parents if she'd been able to pick them out herself. Her mother, Elizabeth, was a petite, elegant Irish woman with blazing red locks and emerald eyes. Her father, Lawrence, was of Italian-French descent. He was tan and rugged-looking with coal-black hair and deep brown eyes. Katie was a perfect blend of both. Her long, silky hair was a deep coppery auburn, and her eyes were an unusual shade of hazel. She was five foot eight, with a slender yet full feminine build that turned quite a few heads.
Alex, though he wouldn't admit it to anyone, was insanely jealous when other men took second glances at his wife-she, as far as he was concerned, belonged to him. He knew Katie didn't think of herself as a beauty and he never lavished praise on her looks. When she looked in the mirror she was overly critical of herself; he kept his mouth shut. He was afraid that if she realized how very beautiful she really was then she never would have stayed with a flirtatious, self-centered guy like him.
Her parents liked Alex from the start, and after five years of dating, they gave their blessing for marriage. Katie decided to start working right after high school though her parents would have preferred college to employment. She started as a keypunch operator for a major computer corporation, then moved up into the secretarial pool. The pay could have been better, but the benefits were excellent.
Alex started working his senior year in high school at a boat manufacturing plant. He called his position a 'gopher,' go for this and go for that, but he was actually an inventory clerk. It was his job to be certain there was a constant supply of fiberglass and resin, which he called 'itch and bitch,' because the fiberglass would make everyone itch and the fumes from the resin made everyone bitchy after smelling it all day. Again, the pay was okay, but nothing to brag on. Their combined income was around $35,000 a year and it always seemed they were scrimping and cutting corners.
They managed to save enough to put a down payment on a nice little thousand-square-foot, two-bedroom house on a shady lot in Fort Pierce, in the industrial part of town where both of them worked. But, it was perfectly located between their parents' homes for visits. It was only after they bought their home that they started planning for a family. They both wanted three children, deciding after number two they would sell their little house and find something more accommodating. That was two years ago and baby number one was still missing from their lives.
Katie believed that if she could just get pregnant the first time, it would be easier to conceive the next two. All their dreams and plans hinged at this point, and she was afraid of what would happen to their marriage if they couldn't have children. She had known people that had the same problem and they eventually divorced. What would happen to her and Alex? Would they grow distant or stronger and more bonded? What would life be like without children-or Alex? She didn't know, but she couldn't imagine a life without him. Only time would tell their fate.