Right from the start, Cris was pretty certain she could get me pregnant. It started on our honeymoon-a six day trip to Vegas where we stayed at the Venetian, ate at the Paris and drank all night at New York, New York. We took a gondola ride to the elevators and made out like high school kids. In our room, Cris slid her soft hands under my cotton skirt. She rubbed against me, her leg between my legs.
“Let’s make a baby,” she whispered.
My breathless laugh came out like a moan. “What?” I asked.
“Let’s make a baby,” she said again. “Right now. Tonight.”
She rubbed her cheek against my cheek and I played along. “Okay,” I said. “Knock me up.”
When we were finished, she put her hand on my abdomen, traced a ring around my belly button.
“Do you think we did it?”
I turned to look at her. Her eyes were wide and hopeful. “Are you joking?” I asked. “You know you can’t actually get me pregnant.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I took a biology class. In third grade.”
“Sometimes unexpected things happen,” she said.
“Not like this.”
I had come to terms with the fact that I would never be able to have a baby with the person I loved a long time ago. Sometimes I went to chat rooms for infertile women and read a month’s worth of posts in one sitting. I cried and cried. I knew exactly how they felt. But it seemed Cris hadn’t made peace with it. She brought it up again, when we were back at home in Ohio.
“I’m serious about wanting a baby, you know.”
We were making dinner in our tiny kitchen. Cris was cleaning vegetables and I was trimming the fat from a couple of chicken breasts.
“I know,” I said. “I want one, too.”
“No, I mean, like, naturally.”
“Cris, this freaks me out. That obviously can’t happen.”
“We are both women.”
“My aunt’s doctor told her with 100% certainty she would never be able to have kids. He said her ovaries didn’t function right and they never would and she should just forget it. They would have to try something else. Five years later, they adopted a little boy, and the next month they found out she was pregnant.”
“What’s your point?”
“Miracles happen. Miracles like that happen all the time.”
She brought the peeler over the smooth surface of a potato. She was so gentle, even when she was upset. I wanted to hold her from behind, press her hips against the metal sink, but my hands were covered in chicken juice.
“That’s great for your aunt, Cris, but that won’t happen for us. Neither of us has any sperm.”
“But she had a zero percent chance, too. Same as us, and it happened because they love each other. And we love each other.”
“Cris, you have to stop this. It’s making me too sad. I cannot give you this. We will have children, I promise. But we have to do it another way.”
“I want to do it this way.”
“Didn’t you let this go when you realized you were gay?”
“I thought I did,” she said. She turned a potato over in her hand. “I guess I just didn’t think I would love anyone this much.”
Soon, it was all I could think about. And it was breaking my heart. If Cris and I could have a child together, I knew that kid would be the best, most interesting kid on the planet. But I also knew we couldn’t. Every time we made love, Cris looked at me with this intense longing. She was trying to make it happen. I could tell. And sometimes, right before I came, I almost thought it was possible, too.
On Thursday, Cris came home from the grocery store with fresh tulips and a home pregnancy test.
“Just take it,” she said.
“I’m not going to take it. It’s humiliating.”
“Because I’m not pregnant. And I just don’t want to feel like I failed you or something.”
“Then you think I’m failing.”
“No, I don’t. This is like asking a fish to grow feathers. I know you love me. I love you. I just don’t think it’s possible.”
In the end, I took the test. I waited until Cris was out and unwrapped the layers of packaging like a Christmas gift. Unlike the women on the infertility boards, I had never taken a pregnancy test before. Maybe I just wanted to know what it would feel like. I set the timer on my cell phone. In three minutes it would all be over.
I watched my reflection in the bathroom mirror while the timer counted down. I suddenly felt nervous. I don’t know why; I already knew what the test would say. But while I stood there, watching the empty gray box for any signs of change, I realized I did not know.