Not Quite Impossible

If a mysterious gypsy on a street corner had grabbed my wrist in the summer of 2015 and told me that in 3 years we would be eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of our 2nd child, I would have shrugged it off with a rueful chuckle and walked briskly in the opposite direction. And not just because I’m generally skeptical of the peremptory prognostications of prying pedestrians.

It simply would have struck me as borderline impossible.

To explain why, I need to rewind a few additional years. Our hope-fueled quest for a baby began in August 2011, just three months after our wedding. If Danielle and I had discovered each other at a younger age, I can imagine us spending a few years luxuriating in wedded bliss before hatching a plan to conceive (or, if we were birds, conceiving a plan to hatch, said the compulsively jokey voice in my head). But when you marry in your 30s with the ironclad intention of starting a family, you don’t fool around. Which is to say: You do fool around, as often as necessary to get the job done.

That August, in order to convey my emotional readiness to Danielle, I shopped around and found a heart-meltingly cute baby scrapbook with colorful, smiling, oversized animal faces on the cover. I wrapped it up and gave it to her, and we shared one of those rare, glistening moments that’s too euphoric to try and put into words.

The journey we embarked on from that point forward ran the gamut, the full length of it, from exhilarating to exhausting. I will save the grittier details for the book I plan to write someday about our journey toward parenthood, but we spent 4 years and 2 months — roughly 50 cycles of life — endeavoring to make our dream a reality.

At first, it was effortless. It was just love that we were making, after all. We had that in spades; love and more love and love to spare. But a year went by and nothing happened. We flew to Europe for our belated honeymoon. Everything was clicking. The trip was pure magic. Still nothing happened. So we started to try a little harder. Another year went by. We moved across the country. And still nothing happened. Eventually we were trying and trying, harder and harder, trying with every fiber of our beings, trying everything we could think to try in order to summon a tiny life out of the sweat of our vigorous but 30-something bodies and the love of our ageless but increasingly anxious hearts.

Infertility is the loneliest road I have ever traveled, and I know for a fact that Danielle would resoundingly attest to that sentiment as well. It’s a road you can’t envision unless you walk down it yourself. You travel it alongside your partner, that is true; but the longer you wander down it, the more you begin to experience the gradually accumulating sense of dread as individuals. As disappointed as I felt in the later stages of our journey — when we felt our hope being gradually obliterated, month by demoralizing month — I can assure you that the sense of loss was exponentially more crushing for my beautiful wife.

Ever since Danielle was 3 years old, she knew she wanted to someday be a mama. I have a picture in my office of my footie-pajama-clad future wife standing next to a Christmas tree, grinning from ear to ear as she adoringly (and adorably) clutched the luckiest doll that was ever manufactured. There is a kind of euphoria in her sweet brown eyes.

It’s difficult for me to fathom a 3-year-old having such lucid clarity about her mission in life. But I guess some people just have a sharper sense of destiny than others.

Now fast-forward 30 years and imagine Danielle’s deep sense of displacement as we entered the 3rd year and eventually the 4th year of our reproductive quest with nothing to show for our fervent attempts to conjure the flame of life out of the spark of our love.

Imagine my decimated confidence upon learning, at long last, that the deficiency was on my side of the fertility equation and that our odds of achieving pregnancy without medical intervention were daunting.

Imagine us, after 4 long years, finally understanding what had been wrong all this time. Seeing the cold, hard numbers laid out in front of us.

Imagine our frazzled nerves as we sat in the office of the IVF specialist who explained that for $15,000 to $20,000 we could notably improve our chances (but still not be guaranteed) of pregnancy.

Imagine two strenuously frugal people deciding to spend a sizable chunk of their life savings on a shot — a mere shot — at unthwarting their thwarted dream.

Now imagine those two people, ready to take the first IVF step, waiting for that 51st cycle of life to roll around, at which point tests will be commenced and contracts will be signed and deposits will be paid and fingers will be crossed.

But the 51st cycle never comes. No tests are commenced. No contracts are signed. No deposits are paid.

Because this time, against all odds — inconceivably — life is conceived.

Thus began the story of Greyson Francis Wingert, the greatest gift we’ve ever been given, our miracle boy, our grace son, graciously gifted to us at the last possible minute of the eleventh hour. And three years later, his tiny and equally miraculous sibling is on the verge of entering the world.

Borderline impossible indeed.

Emphasis on borderline.


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