By Sabrina Salvesen
It had been a little over two years.
We were expecting a beautiful and healthy baby girl. My wife, Carly and I decided to name her Kathleen Rose Anderson. Kathleen after Carly’s mother and Rose after my grandmother. Five months into the pregnancy Carly began feeling sick. With unusual stomach pains and spotting, she immediately knew something wasn’t right. We rushed to the hospital and received devastating news… Carly had a late miscarriage. With late miscarriages happening in only 1 or 2% of pregnancies and Carly doing everything right, we continually wondered how we fell into that small percentile.
After we notified family and friends about the miscarriage, we took time to ourselves to mourn. It was a difficult time for both of us, and even with the reassurance of the doctor that it was not her fault, there was a part of Carly that still felt guilty. It felt as if everything we imagined in our future was taken away from us in a blink of an eye. No explanation, just left with an empty feeling.
It’s been a little over 2 years now, and every now and then we would discuss the possibility of having another child. Carly was ready to open herself up to the idea of trying to have another because she knew her internal clock was ticking at the age of 38. As for me, I was hesitant and scared. The loss of Kathleen was agonizing enough. I continually asked myself, ‘Was I ready to go through that again?’ the answer was always the same… No. I wasn’t ready to take that on again. The pain and heartache of not only losing our child, but watching Carly and knowing even though it wasn’t her fault she still carried some of the guilt. I wasn’t ready to take that chance again, at least not yet.
The conversation of having children came and went with the wind. Dying down then picking up again. We accepted what had happened to us and moved forward from it. Everything felt as normal as could be after that. Of course not a day goes by where Kathleen doesn’t cross our minds, and some days are easier than others, but overall we were doing well. The tears were eventually replaced by laughs and the pain eased over time. We had healed.
While everything felt right, I did began to notice that Carly had been acting a little differently recently. She wasn’t upset or angry, but closed off. Not in a distant kind of way, but as if she was hiding something from me. But what exactly? I couldn’t figure it out… How exactly did I come to this conclusion you ask? Well, Carly was never one to have long phone calls, but lately, she had been on the phone in private for hours on end. I was never one to pry or be one of those hovering husbands so I never bothered to ask. I told myself, ‘she’ll tell me when she’s ready’. But within the past few months, there had been a couple of times when I would go to bed and she’d still be on the phone. I never suspected she was cheating, but my curiosity lingered as to who she was on the phone with for so long, and why.
We had a great relationship, we’ve been married for 12 years and together for 17. Carly was always so open with me, but this was something she just couldn’t share with me and I couldn’t understand why. I tried to overlook the curious feelings and omit the ridiculous theories my mind had generated. Cheating, birthday surprise, a double life? The theories just became more and more ridiculous as I allowed my mind to wander. The long phone calls continued and became slightly more frequent too. Carly was on the phone at least once a week for hours with this person. It would start off as a normal conversation about how their weeks were going, then abruptly Carly would get quiet, laugh, give a few short answers here and there and then proceed to continue the conversation into a different room.
Eventually, I suppressed the negative thoughts eating away at me. Things were fine for a few weeks, then one night as I came home from a dinner out with friends, she was on another long phone call. My curiosity got the best of me in that moment and I finally decided to ask who this mystery person was. I stayed up a little later than normal to wait for her. It was 11:00. A half hour passed when I finally heard her laugh and wish this mystery person a goodnight.
Here was my chance I thought. Just ask.
“Hey hon, who was that?” I politely asked.
“Just an old friend I got caught up with” She happily replied.
‘Great. Nothing’ I thought to myself.
I felt disappointed. No only with the lack of information I received, but the distant feeling that I felt was overpowering our relationship. Why wouldn’t she talk to me?
A month ago Carly was working late. Carly rarely ever worked late. She dreaded having to work late and did her best to avoid it. I brushed it off the first time because it was just once, but today as she was leaving for work this morning she told me she had to stay late again.
“Hey Jax, I have to work late again tonight, so I’ll be home around 8 or 9” She said.
“Ok, not a problem hun, see you then” I casually replied as she walked out the door.
I had to know what she was up too. Long phone calls, late nights at work, shutting me out. I knew we had to talk.
Around 9 o’clock Carly walked in the door. I waited up for her in the living room.
“Oh,” she said surprised. I had caught off guard. “Hey hon, I figured you’d be up in bed already” Carly smiled as she shut the door behind her.
I slowly stood up from the couch, kissed her hello, took a deep breath in and said, “Carly. I need to talk to you”
Her smile disappeared and her face went straight, she looked like she had just seen a ghost.
“What’s wrong Jax?” she nervously asked.
“What’s going on?… You’ve been on these long mysterious phone calls, working late, and shutting me out. I just want to know what’s going on…”
Carly broke her eye contact and turned away from me. She took a deep breath in and turned back to face me. “Jax, sit down. I want to discuss something with you”
She walked towards the couch and sat down gesturing her head for me to sit beside her. I walked over sat down beside her and put my hand on her knee. I braced myself. Something was clearly wrong. Now I felt sure she was hiding something from me, but what? Was she having an affair? And if that were the case, what would I do? Would I try to work it out and forgive her? Would I leave her? All these different thoughts were circulating in my head. It felt like my mind was moving faster than the earth was rotating, but I had to stay calm and listen to what Carly has to say.
“Two years ago, we lost our little girl. And I know it’s been hard on the both of us.” She paused to catch herself. She swallowed, took another deep breath in, locked her eyes into mine and began again. “I started looking into international adoption. I believe this could be an alternative option for us. Not only to have another chance at having a child, but to save a child’s life. Those long phone calls? Well, it’s because I’ve been in contact with a woman who has been providing me with an overwhelmingly helpful amount of information. That’s why I’ve been so distant lately, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you… I just had to be sure this was something I would be interested in before even bringing it up with you. I’m still not even 100% sure… But the woman I’ve been speaking with is amazing. She’s genuine, she cares about us and the welfare of the child. She wants to help us start a family… Maybe we can figure it out together and open this door of opportunity”
I didn’t answer her. My head was spinning trying to process everything at once.
While the thought of adoption crossed my mind, I had never really gone into depth about actually adopting. Let alone from another country. I felt so overwhelmed but relieved all at once. While I was ecstatic Carly wasn’t having an affair I felt overwhelmed by the idea of adopting a child.
“The reason I’ve been “working late” is because I’ve been going to Barbara’s monthly meetings” Carly stated.
I didn’t say anything again.
“Come with me… One meeting. If you absolutely hate it we can discuss other options of having a child naturally.”
After another few minutes passed I finally collected my thoughts together enough to say something.
“I’m not mad at you. I just wish you told me.” I said with a straight face.
Carly’s face fell, I knew she felt guilty for not telling me from the start. I grabbed her hands and gently kissed her forehead. Reassuring her I still loved her and we would figure this out together now.
“Thank you. For being honest and telling me” I said with a gentle tone of voice. I smiled and she gave me a half smile knowing even though she kept this from me, we would be ok.
I took a deep breath in and asked, “Now with adoption, how long does this process take? How expensive is it? Do we qualify? Is it a hard process? Are we ready? Am I ready?”
I realize I asked a lot of questions, but to be fair, I was also thrown a lot of information with very little detail. Carly smiled.
“You have a lot of questions, and I completely understand. But instead of me answering your questions, why don’t we go see Barbara and figure this out together? She can explain to both of us the process and answer any questions or concerns we may have.” I was still scared. I felt my facial expression change and so did Carly.
“Hey.” She said as she caressed my face with her hands. “This isn’t a commitment we have to make, it’s just going to gain more information on the process and what it entails. One meeting. That’s all I’m asking of you…”