Authors: The Long-Awaited Child
© 2001 by Tracie Peterson
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ebook edition created 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
The internet addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers in this book are accurate at the time of publication. They are provided as a resource. Baker Publishing Group does not endorse them or vouch for their content or permanence.
Cover design by Jenny Parker
To women everywhere who know
the heartache of loss and the
desire for hope and joy.
You are daughters of the King.
The best is yet to be.
“Tess, I’m sorry. There’s never an easy way to give a patient this kind of news.”
Tess Holbrook stared at the bearded man in strained silence. It seemed like she’d been coming to the doctor—this doctor—for nearly all of her adult life. She sighed.
She’d been so hopeful, so positive that this time the news would be different. Hope now faded into resignation and then to a painful urgency that left Tess almost breathless. Thoreau had been so right when he’d penned that resignation was confirmed desperation. Tess and desperation were lifelong companions.
Tess gripped the arms of the chair. “So there’s nothing to be done?” she finally asked, her voice strangely hollow. “This is the end of it?”
“We’ve pretty much exhausted all the known scientific possibilities,” the man replied. “Medicine has its limitations.”
Tess knew Dr. David Zeran was one of the best in his field. If he could no longer give her an answer—a hope—what chance did she have of finding it elsewhere?
“Look, I know this is hard to hear,” the doctor said as he leaned back against his immaculate mahogany desk. “You aren’t the first one I’ve had to give this kind of news to, but it hurts no less each time I’m required to say the words.”
“What am I supposed to tell Brad?” she asked, tears misting her vision. “We had so many plans. . . .” her voice trailed off.
“Tess, I’ve known you and Brad now for some time. We’re friends. We go to the same church and are grounded in the same spiritual beliefs. You can’t give up; with God, all things are possible.” He paused and eyed her. “I can tell by the expression on your face that you’re letting go of hope.”
“And why not?” Tess questioned with a bit of defiance in her tone. “You can’t give me any.”
“Maybe the scientific world has failed you.”
“That’s putting it mildly,” Tess said, pushing back long brown ringlets. It was too late to have hope that she would ever conceive a child. She was infertile. Barren. The word echoed in her mind.
“I’m thirty-six and Brad and I have been trying to have a baby for the last ten years. The medical community from here to Kansas City has poked and prodded me, tested and medicated me, and infringed upon my privacy in ways I don’t even want to discuss. Why should I have any hope? I can’t get pregnant.”
“Maybe not right now,” Dr. Zeran agreed. “But maybe in the future. Tess, I’ve seen people totally give up on ever getting pregnant and then
They find themselves expecting and suddenly their dreams are realized.”
Tess stood up and shook her head. “That’s not going to happen for me. I just know it. I wouldn’t have spent all our spare money on in vitro and fertility drugs if I had believed it was possible to conceive on my own. Now, many thousands of dollars later—dollars we should have invested in a house or the business—you chide me for having no hope. Well, you’re right. I have no hope of ever getting pregnant.” A bitterness borne out of years of disappointment seemed to take possession of her heart.
David Zeran put out his hand to stop her from leaving. “Tess, wait just a minute. Don’t leave just yet. I know you’re upset, and I don’t want you out in traffic this way.”
She sniffed back tears and tried to remain calm. “I’m fine. Truly. I’m disappointed, but I’ve been disappointed for years on end. This is no different.” But it was. This was the end of the road. David had said as much. There was nothing left to try.
Tess had tried hard to be brave and strong.
“Never let them see you down,”
one of her college business professors had told her. But that had been at least a hundred years ago and she had been a younger, more courageous soul back then.
David spoke compassionately. “But you’re not fine. You don’t need a degree in medicine to see that. You said it yourself. You see no reason to have hope. I’ve always seen a glint of anticipation—a personal challenge, if you will—that demanded the odds work with you instead of against you. Now I just see defeat.”
Tess shook her head. “I’m tired, David.” She put aside his profession and the formalities and turned to him as a friend. “Brad is tired. We’ve spent most of our marriage trying to have a baby and it’s taken all the romance and fun out of our relationship.”
“Why not adopt, then? Put all of this behind you and call up an agency.”
“We’ve been through all this before,” Tess replied. “I’m adopted. And I don’t want to put the idea down—I’m so grateful that someone chose to adopt me and give me a home. But I have no one else in this world to whom I’m related, that I share that blood bond with. Don’t you understand?” Tess knew her tone was pleading, but that was how she felt. She was begging for someone to comprehend her feelings. Even Brad failed to grasp them in full.
“I want a child of my own. A baby who is flesh of my flesh. I want to know there are other human beings out there who carry my blood. I feel so isolated.” She allowed her tears to fall. “I feel there is no one in the entire universe who is a part of me in that way.”
“But why should that be so important, Tess? Can’t you love an adopted child? You loved adopted parents.”
An exasperated sigh escaped her lips. “Yes, I loved them. I would have done anything for them. I loved my adopted sister, Elaine, as well. We were as close a family as any in the neighborhood, but Elaine and I always felt the need for something more.”
“Elaine was also adopted?”
Tess nodded. “She was even younger than me when she came to our folks. She has no memories of her childhood,
but I do. I was nearly six. I remember.” The painful truth of those words hung in the air for a moment before Tess dissolved them with her next statement. “I don’t want to seem ungrateful, David. I know the benefits as well as the downside of adoption. I just want my own baby.”
“I know, Tess. I wish there was something more I could do.”
She turned away from him and picked up her purse. “Well, that’s that. I guess we just go home and suffer through the truth of the matter.” She looked back at David’s sympathetic expression. “I’m sorry for taking this out on you.”
“You don’t need to apologize. I completely understand.”
Tess nodded, but she doubted he could ever fully understand her misery. He was a man and the father of two beautiful children. How could he possibly grasp her pain?
Intent on composing herself, Tess decided to concentrate only on her business and the tasks she had yet to complete before evening. Work was the way she’d always bolstered herself and forced herself to move forward. Concluding there would be no real chance for productivity, Tess buried her emotions and arranged her day on mental note pads. With any luck she’d be able to beat the rush-hour traffic and get home well ahead of Brad.
Unlocking her car door, Tess kept thinking at least two steps ahead.
I’ll take the Palmetto, swing by the country club, and pick up that packet for the Caraway couple in Minneapolis. Then I’ll drive by the bank and pick up the papers for the Davidsons
As a Senior Relocation Coordinator, Tess dealt with elderly people all over the nation. It was her primary responsibility to give them a safe and easy transition from their old locations to their new retirement homes in Florida. Tess had dreamed up the business after seeing a television special on the needs of retiring senior citizens. She’d still been in college then, safely living back home in Kansas City and making the commute to the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
“I didn’t have a clue back then,” she muttered and started
the car. It wasn’t until she checked her reflection in the visor mirror that Tess’s willpower left her. Staring at her reflection, Tess recognized the unmistakable devastation in her expression. Her eyes welled with tears.
The emptiness in her heart threatened to blot out every other point of reality. There would be no baby. Her flat abdomen would never bulge full with a growing infant. The gift she so longed to give her beloved husband would never take form—never be born.
“It’s not fair,” she told her reflection. Refusing the pain, she allowed anger to rise up within her. “It’s not fair!”
She slammed her fists against the steering wheel and let her tears wreak havoc with her mascara. Her mind warned her to stop—to think of something else. But this time her heart pushed logical thinking aside.
“Teenagers get pregnant every day. Inconveniently pregnant women select abortion as if they were choosing party dresses. Everybody can get pregnant at the drop of a hat except for me!”
The flames of bitterness grew as Tess fueled the fire with her thoughts. Confirmed desperation. It permeated her very soul. After years of disappointment and heartache, it was the only emotion left to her. The only emotion that didn’t completely rob her of the will to go on.
She threw the car into gear and pulled out of the parking lot with much less discretion than Miami traffic usually demanded. Her anger kept her edgy and tense as she darted from lane to lane. Yet soon her anger dissipated and her fears and sorrows overwhelmed her until she was reduced to a sobbing mass of emotionally raw nerves.
Knowing the danger she posed, Tess attempted to compose herself. She tried to force her mind to go over a detailed list of what she needed from the store, but it didn’t work. Finally giving up, Tess pulled into the parking lot of a fast-food burger place and parked the car once more. She didn’t bother to turn the engine off. Nor did she make any pretense of hiding the
fact that she was having a breakdown. She simply put her head against the steering wheel and cried.
Oh, God, I’m so ashamed
, she struggled to pray.
I have a good life here in Miami. I have a wonderful, loving husband
. Thoughts of Brad only made her cry harder. He deserved a wife who could bear him a child. He deserved the children he so much desired. Hadn’t he been the first one to bring up having a baby?
They had hardly been married a week when he brought up the subject one morning over breakfast. Tess had been thrilled. She knew before marrying him that Brad wanted children, but she hadn’t realized he’d be quite this eager.