Soft light floated through the windows and beyond colored curtains as dust played in the late morning glow. Used baby bottles lay drying in an organic heap on the kitchen counter while San Francisco local, Jennifer Moran, juggled a swaddled newborn in one hand, coffee in another. The dose of caffeine reminded her of the never-ending stream of new emails awaiting her refracted attention.
Perhaps if Newton’s first law of physics hadn’t been right, Jennifer would have had her baby years ago, years before she had so many objects in motion. It would have happened before receiving her doula training and working with expectant mothers, before starting her own company, before the constant flood of emails and texts. She would have happily raised her child in the city, while working part-time as a young, energetic parent. But nature has a way of disrupting plans and thwarting dreams. Despite long, anxious years of trying to conceive, Jennifer and her husband Alan gave up and forged ahead with their professional careers. If a child was going to come into her life, the stars would have to align.
Laura Gongwer may be on maternity leave, but her command of the front desk operations is impressive. Simultaneously she answers the telephone, files a pile of pink papers, and shuts a drawer with an extended leg like a seasoned acrobat. It’s apparent she’s proud of this job with benefits she secured in a parking lot after some friendly banter with the chiropractor who owns the practice. His gut instinct combined with her unapologetic humor and drive put her in the right place at the right time. A confessed optimist, good things just seemed to happen.
Even when the unexpected news came, her optimistic outlook silenced all the doubters. A baby, three months along, was growing inside her. Immediately she knew that baby would not stay hers for long. She would carry it to full term, yes, but the baby belonged to another family, and it was her responsibility to find that family and connect the dots.
Jennifer is back at her desk attempting to work as she adjusts her daughter’s wrap to settle the squirming infant on her chest. Papers from the adoption agency spray across the table mixed with yesterdays mail and morning breakfast crumbs. It’s a scene of chaos veteran parents know well and one Jennifer and Alan are just beginning to understand.
She pulls away from her inbox in time for another feeding as her baby begins to squirm and stretch. She warms the formula but can’t calm the screams coming from the infant’s rooting lips, for there is no breast that can offer her the succor she seeks. It’s a cruel daily reminder of what nature couldn’t provide.
With the warm bottle in one hand, Jennifer attempts to soothe the writhing infant who is just a few days old and hasn’t completely accepted the rubber nipple yet. She continues to wail and squirm until the warm liquid touches her tongue and offers sweet relief. Jennifer breathes in deeply and exhales slowly, seeking a place of internal refuge.
Resisting the urge to organize a few items on the desk her temp has relocated, Laura slips away to a back room, assuming position of patient. Laying on the adjustment table, eyes closed, breathing deeply, she surrenders control as the doctor works his magic. Giving birth without
medication or hospital care weeks earlier allowed her the freedom to own her decisions, embrace her pain, and to invite joy into her new life. A realignment on her path to peace. --------------
Jennifer’s eyes are tired and often drift to open space while feeding the baby in her arms. But there’s something behind the weary expressions that suggest hope for the future: a future together. A family. A new family that includes her helpless newborn at the center, parents Jennifer and Alan on one side, birth parents on the other. It’s a modern family.
Laura cracks a joke and playfully grabs her boyfriend and baby daddy by the elbow. They’re smiling and reveling in the endorphins from a rigorous hike in the Bay Area’s green hills. The couple banters, laughs, and starts talking about the future and their options. Because of Jennifer and Alan, there are options. Lots of them. Laura knows her daughter is taken care of, loved, and will be looked after for many years to come. Laura’s eyes sparkle in the afternoon sun as she skips down the switchbacks. Family first, she says. Always family.