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“Hey, Kelly! Would you like some clothes? My mother-in-law buys me so many things; I’ll never wear them all.”
“Sure! Thanks so much, Karen.”
“Ok. Follow me home from work tomorrow and I’ll load you up.”
It was the mid-1980s. I’d worked with Karen for six months as a temporary secretary while her employer divested the department she had assisted for five years. They would reposition her within the company once the final details were in place. I was to help the executives in the department wind down their assignments and assist them with their job searches.
Karen was an attractive, slim woman in her early thirties. She had straight blond hair and bright blue eyes. She and her husband Sam had been trying to have a baby for three years. Now they were in the middle of their second in vitro fertilization process. They had already tried in vivo (also called artificial insemination), unsuccessfully. I watched as she grew thinner and frail both physically and emotionally as she underwent the daily injections to help mature the ovarian follicles containing her eggs.
I was slightly younger than Karen was. My husband was the principal of a small Christian school and didn’t make much money. I appreciated her generosity and sensitivity to my financial situation.
Following her home from the office brought me into a beautiful wooded area beyond the suburbs. My jaw dropped as I drove up the winding driveway. Their house was magnificent. I learned that she and her husband purchased the plans for their three-story home through an advertisement in an architecture magazine. The landscaping was picture-perfect, as well.
Walking up the meandering walkway, she chattered excitedly. “Follow me, Kelly—I can’t wait to show you something!”
I lagged behind her as she rushed through the many levels of her 3,000+ square foot home. It contained various things I’d never seen before. Something new called a “CD player” promised to give clearer audio to your favorite music. The windows had mini-blinds between the panes. I was in awe!
“Look here, Kelly!” Karen opened the door to an elaborate baby nursery. “We call this, ‘Joshua’s room’,” she said with a smile. She went on to tell me about their private adoption attempt. The adoption plan fell through when his teen mother changed her mind after his birth. “She’d chosen us and we were all set to get him . . . ,” her voice trailed off. “She just changed her mind.”
As I was expressing my condolences, she interrupted. “This is what I wanted you to see! Isn’t this adorable?” She wound up a blue mobile that hung over the crib. The tiny, stuffed animals moved in a gentle circle as the poignant notes of “Brahm’s Lullaby” played softly.
“See? They’re slanted so the baby can look at them. Isn’t this great? We just bought it.” I couldn’t shake the feeling that the familiar song had never sounded so lonesome.
Pushing past my amazement at her enthusiasm over something so simple, I feigned great zeal over the intricacies of the sweet crib mobile.
We went into another unused bedroom where she opened the closet doors. She began to pull out large, black garbage bags and boxes full of clothes, most with the tags still on, to give to me. “My mother-in-law has a shopping problem. I’ll never wear all these!”
Watching her stack the boxes and bags, I couldn’t help feeling guilty for being so rich. Although surrounded by state-of-the-art everything, what brought joy to her was a simple crib mobile. All she really wanted was a baby. I had gotten pregnant accidentally—twice—once as a teenager. I had everything she wanted. I was rich.
Thank You, Lord. You’ve given me the blessing of children easily. Thank You.
I thanked Karen profusely as she helped me load my car with outfits that would be my wardrobe for years to come.
Driving home, I cried and prayed that God would bless Karen and Sam with the baby they so desperately wanted. That evening I gave my own children extra long hugs.
The next month Karen missed a couple days of work for her IVF procedure. She called the office crying, saying that she had been calling the doctor’s office every half hour. One of the nurses, agitated, had snapped at her. “Well, the sperm is hopping all over those eggs but they just won’t fertilize!”
Karen’s heart was broken. “It’s all my fault,” she wailed. “Sam’s sperm is doing their job but my eggs won’t cooperate!” It was excruciating for everyone.
When Karen returned to work, I offered to take her to lunch. She smiled and said, “Let’s stop by Bellini’s Baby Furniture Store first, ok?” She was so volatile I was afraid of what would happen.
“You have a beautiful crib at your house, Karen.”
“I know, but that’s Joshua’s crib. I want a new one. We have one more in vitro try left on Sam’s insurance. It’s going to work. I know it is.”
As we wandered among the expensive Italian furniture, a sales clerk approached us. “When is your baby due?” She looked from Karen back to me.
“We’re trying IVF one more time. Hopefully sometime next year,” she smiled.
Although Karen and I were the only customers in the store, the woman lowered her tone to a whisper. “You know what question I get in here most often?” We couldn’t guess. “Women come in here and ask—no, beg—to know where they can get a baby.”
“No. Some of them are like in a daze because they have just miscarried or have tried for so long. They say, ‘Can you tell me where I can get a baby?’ It’s amazing.”
Karen’s eyes lowered. “There are lots of us, I guess.”
With that, we headed to the restaurant. Again, I had that guilty “I’m-richer-than-I-deserve-to-be” feeling in the pit of my stomach.
My husband found a job in another state and I left work the next month. The following year, after settling in Rochester, NY, I got a beautiful card from Karen. It was a birth announcement for their newly adopted baby son, Adam. In his picture, I could see he had blue eyes like Karen and dark hair like Sam. He was perfect!
The card read, “Rejoice with us this Mother’s Day! God has blessed us with a beautiful son.” His birth date and weight followed. I loved that they gave God the glory for their little blessing.
At last, Karen and Sam could share in our riches! The couple who seemed to have everything finally had the one thing that had eluded them—a child.
I smiled and closed my eyes. Thank You, Lord for giving Karen a happy Mother’s Day at last!
About Kelly Stigliano
Kelly J. Stigliano has been writing and speaking for over 3 decades. She and Jerry have celebrated more than 30 wedding anniversaries together—all proof of God’s redemptive power! Kelly made bad choices for years and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way, hoping to keep others from making the same mistakes. Because no one benefits when we wear masks, she tries to stay transparent. “Everyone has skeletons in their closets, but my closets don’t have doors on them!”
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