June 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

Written By Wendy Hammond

kids-2One very cold night when I was 41, I called my girlfriend Yannick.  She was in her early 30s and now lived in Pasadena with her new husband. She was also eight months pregnant. She complained how crammed her bed had gotten. For most of her life  she had slept alone, and now she, Jeff and her enormous stomach crowded into her double bed. All those bodies made things hot, she said.

As she joked, a fierce wind rattled my window panes. Chilly air seeped through my badly insulated walls and I snuggled down further under my comforter. When Yannick and I finished talking, I hung up the phone, turned off the light and tried to get warm. My queen-sized bed seemed enormous that night, and so terribly empty. The wind whistled outside and my mind whirred with thoughts: I’m too old now to have children. I would adopt a child if I had a partner, but I don’t. I’m not one of those women who can raise a child alone. I’m 41 years old without a partner; it’s time to face I’m not going to have a child.

I went through some weeks of mourning over this. I comforted myself with the knowledge that there are other ways to have children in one’s life. I had a niece I was close to. I could volunteer to work with children.

And then I met Paul and fell deeply in love. On my 42nd birthday, he asked me if I would try to have a child with him. I still remember the sensation of my face scrunching up into an enormous smile. But I was worried, too. Some time before this a doctor had told me I’d have a hard time getting pregnant, and this coupled with my age made me wonder if I could conceive.

Four months after stopping the pill, when my period was three hours late, I took a home pregnancy test and watched as both blue lines filled in. My hand started to shake.  I grabbed the phone dialed Paul’s number. “Are you sitting down?” Paul was so thrilled he jumped in his car and drove straight through from New York, where he was working on a job, to our Michigan apartment. He stopped only for gas and at a toy store where he bought a toy chest and a stuffed animal for the child we had conceived.

I was 20 weeks along with a “bump” when we had our wedding. Friends performed a puppet show telling the story of our courtship, and Paul proudly displayed the sonogram photos of our boy child to our wedding guests.

A complication came up at the end of my pregnancy. Dr. Ward said I needed to have a cesarean birth and told me he would call when he got one scheduled. He called at 9:30 the night before my 43rd birthday and told us to be at the hospital at six. The next morning, while we waited in an examining room for a nurse to give me an epidural, Paul read me the Molly Brown section of Ulysses to calm me. What a birthday present. To have a child!

Maybe it was the epidural, but once they wheeled me into the operating room I became flooded with joy. A brand new human being was about to come into the world! A miracle! I began to weep with the wonder of it. Meanwhile, Paul snapped pictures of: the doctors and nurses, the instruments, the light fixtures, the yellow disinfectant they smeared over my belly.

As they worked on me, I saw the doctors begin to weep with joy, too. (Paul later said this didn’t happen.) And then I saw a white, white light fill the room. It felt as though the veil between the material world and the world of spirit had thinned almost to nothing. When the doctor held up our baby, Will, I felt and believed I saw God hand over a most precious creation, a human soul in a tiny body. God loved this child passionately, and was lending him to us to care for and raise up. I loved Paul madly, but nothing in my life had prepared me for the ferocity of the love I felt for our precious child or the overwhelming, bursting joy that consumed me as I beheld this new born boy.

Since then at various times-when I look at people piling into a subway, or when I pass people on the sidewalk, and of course when I look into my child’s eyes-I remember the moment of Will’s birth, how infinitely God loved (and loves) him, and I realize once again that every human being is infinitely precious in just the same way. It blows my mind and fills my chest with the sweetest warmth. This is love to me: to kneel in awe at the overwhelming magnificence of each created human being.

Wendy Hammond is a playwright and screenwriter.  Her plays have been produced in NYC, regional as well as Berlin, London, Milan and Tel Aviv theatres.

She has adapted two of her plays to the screen, Julie Johnson with Lily Taylor and Courtney Love and Jersey City with Dana Delany, Debi Mazar, Jesse Garcia, Angela Sarafyan and Bai Ling.

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