Making a Baby With Dad
Dad was the only man in my life from the time I was seven.
My “real” father hadn’t even stuck around to see me born, and Mom had done whatever it took to raise me. She had a decent job working as a legal secretary, so she was home in the evenings and on weekends. She always found time to spend with me and I was never lacking in the love department.
Mom never said anything about men, and I don’t think she ever went out. I gave up asking about my father early because she didn’t have much to say about him. They knew each other, they made a baby and he left. It was just as well because they were both too young and they wouldn’t have gotten along together, anyway. He was a gift from God, sent to help make her little girl, and once that job was finished, he went away to live the rest of his life. I never saw her shed a tear for him or the life they could have had.
I’m the reason Dad and Mom met. Mom took me to the park one Saturday and we were throwing a ball back and forth. There was a lot of laughing and running because I hadn’t quite learned how to catch the ball or throw it straight. We were having a blast, both of us doing more chasing than catching.
Dad had gone for a run and was resting for a while when I threw a particularly wild pitch to Mom. It went almost sideways and hit Dad in the back of the head. The ball was about the size of a softball, a quarter inch thick rubberized plastic shell filled with air, so it didn’t do any major damage.
I told him I was sorry and Mom made a big fuss over him, apologizing as if I’d almost killed him and she was afraid he was going to sue or have me arrested. He thought it was funny and started laughing.
He worked with me on my throwing that day and actually taught me a lot. He pushed me in a swing, higher than Mom had ever pushed me and he sat on one side of the see-saw while Mom and I sat on the other. He took us out for ice cream that afternoon and I think Mom fell in love with him that day. I know I did.
We found that he was a civil engineer and worked for the city. He’d been married for three years but he wanted kids and she didn’t, even though she seemed agreeable to the idea before they got married. He had a vintage three bedroom house that he got for a steal. An older couple had fallen on hard times and they sold it for two lacs over what they owed on it. One generation of kids had grown up in that house and it was his dream to father and raise another.
He became a fixture in our lives after that. One of the problems most single mothers face is that single men are interested in women but don’t have a lot of patience for their children. Dad was different (he was Mr. Kapoor back then). He accepted us as two individuals who went together. Not a package so much as a unit. He and Mom were intimate, of course, but I never felt pushed aside or left out. There were plenty of times I’d sit on his lap or we’d play a game together while Mom did the dishes or made dinner, just as there were times when they went off to do what lovers do while I played with other kids or got looked after by a neighbour.
They’d been going together for a little over a year when he sat us down on the couch, got down on one knee and asked us to marry him.
I looked at Mom. She smiled and nodded her head and I accepted for the two of us.
He gave Mom a ring and they kissed. After they separated, she held her hand out for me to see and the three of us hugged each other.
I don’t know if it was jealousy or concern about the future now that they were engaged, but there was something in the back of my mind gnawing at me. Dad pulled another box from his pocket, similar to the one Mom’s ring had come in, and held it out to me.
I opened it to see a beautiful gold heart on a chain. I had tears in his eyes as I hugged him. He put it around my neck and told me it was to remind me that whatever happened, I’d always be in his heart. I’ve worn it ever since.
We moved into his house and Mom and Dad married three months later. For my ninth birthday, Mom and Dad took me to the shelter and I was allowed to pick out my own puppy. His mother was in the cage with him and four other puppies and it was love at first sight for both of us. I named him Rocky.
They also did their best to make a little brother or sister for me. Alas, that was not to be.
Mom got sick when I was twelve. She tried to shrug it off at first, then blame it on something going around the office but after several months Dad forced her to go to the doctor. He sent her to see a specialist and three months later she was in the hospital for chemo. She saw me turn fourteen but it was from her bed. It was difficult for her to talk but nothing could wipe that smile and the look of pride off her face.
She died a couple of weeks later. She made me promise that Rocky and I would watch over Dad. He came in the room, then Mom told me she needed to talk to him privately. That was the last time I saw her.
When it happened, Dad came out after being alone with her for over a half an hour. He was crying and it was obvious he had been for quite a while. “She’s gone, Honey,” he told me.
We stood there holding each other, giving what little comfort we could provide. We had been a group of three for the past seven years. I was the one who was supposed to grow up and leave the family, although none of us had been looking forward to that day.
We all took her death hard. Rocky would still be alert, listening for her car in the driveway about the time she got home for several weeks. I caught him searching for her in her bed several times.
We were lost for a couple of months until Dad slapped his hand down on the kitchen table one Saturday morning, after breakfast.
“This is crazy,” he said. “Put on a pair of shorts and your sneakers. We’re going to the park.”
We had kept up our weekly trips to the park where we met at until Mom became sick. It wasn’t the same for Dad, me and Rocky to play without her. But Dad was right; it was time to start living again.
We didn’t throw my hollow rubber ball these days. Rocky didn’t mind but they didn’t stay inflated for long once he got hold of them. He’d tire us all out, then lie down with a flattened ball between his front feet and proceed to rip it apart. He’d grin at whoever came over to him, extremely proud of the job he’d done on it.
These days we took a Frisbee. It would have teeth marks after the first day but at least it made it through in one piece. He would still gnaw on it when everyone was relaxing, though.
Rocky put his heart and soul into it and before long Dad and I were laughing, playing a game of keep away with Rocky, who was running back and forth between us, barking his fool head off, occasionally timing a jump right and snatching it out of the air. At that point, turnabout was fair play and he’d make us chase him around the park as he pranced around with the Frisbee in his mouth.
That was the first day either of us was able to talk about Mom and not cry. In fact, we were both smiling and hugging as we recalled the good times we’d had. Because they were just about all good times.
We settled in to a life without Mom. Dad gave her clothes to the church along with some things that she’d collected over the years. We didn’t get rid of everything that would remind us of her, but we didn’t maintain a shrine to her, either.
Mom had started teaching me how to cook, do the laundry and other things that were needed around the house. I was able to take over most of the housekeeping duties but Dad wouldn’t let me do everything by myself. I did some things, he did others and we worked as a team a lot. He was happy for the help but he wasn’t going to keep me from growing up because he couldn’t take care of himself.
I still sat on his lap on occasion but I also sat at the kitchen table and across from him in the living room and talked over things he and Mom used to talk over. If he needed someone to rant at about something going on at work, I was the one he came to now.
We also worked on finances, for the household, for Dad and for me. Mom and Dad had both been convinced that the pension wouldn’t be worth anything by the time they got old enough to collect it and had planned accordingly. Dad continued his saving and investment plans and he helped me grow my money. Mom had a ten lacs rupees worth of life insurance policy through work and she had left me on it as sole beneficiary. When they discussed it, shortly after getting married, he told her that he could take care of himself and it would be a sin for her to leave me dependent on him in the event of her death. I wasn’t set for life but I had a hell of a cushion for a kid my age.
I eventually grew up and met someone. Suddenly I had two men in my life. Vikas and I dated, fell in love and married. Dad and I both cried when we left on our honeymoon, knowing that the family unit we’d maintained for fifteen years was now history. It’s the way of the world, the cycle of life and we both knew it and had been anticipating it since before my mother left us but that didn’t make it any easier. For either of us.
We’d waited to finish college before getting married and we both had jobs waiting for us when we got back from our honeymoon. Our lives seemed perfect and we were very much in love. We took a good look at our priorities before we got married and decided that the most important thing to us was having children. My inheritance had grown and I didn’t really have to work. We’d been together for five years and knew we were right for each other, just like Mom and I had known the same about Dad, fifteen years earlier. We had a lot of fun trying to get me pregnant.
We didn’t desert Dad. We lived in the same town and we got together whenever we could. Rocky had stayed with Dad and we occasionally took him to the park, playing three person keep away. The years had gotten to him and he wasn’t as fast and didn’t jump as high as before and he got tired a lot more quickly.
We’d been married for a couple of years with no luck at getting pregnant when Rocky went to sleep and never woke up. Dad wasn’t that old, but neither was Mom when she was taken. One thing I wanted more than anything was for Dad to hold my baby in his arms. I told Vikas I thought it was time for us to visit a doctor and see if there was a reason I hadn’t conceived.
We profess to be rational beings but there are some things that reside deeper than thought. A woman facing a double mastectomy can’t help but think she’s going to be less of a woman, solely because a doctor’s going to lop off a few ounces of diseased fat glands. A man who’s told that he isn’t potent enough to produce children will similarly feel he’s not a whole man. All the things that make the difference between a boy and a man fade into the background when he’s told he can’t impregnate a woman.
Vikas got that news when the two of us sat in front of the doctor’s desk to go over the results of our tests. I think both of us had been looking at the tests as the next logical thing to rule out. If anything, the other spouse would be shown to be the one. It’s funny how it’s engrained into our beings. The only words to describe the other person are all negatives. Deficient, incapable, the problem. These words ran through my head as I told Vikas that everything was OK and there was nothing to worry about.
All the solutions bypassed Vikas. In vitro was something we could try but his sperm wasn’t potent enough to use. As far as I was concerned, that procedure was too mechanical, too inhuman for me, even if Vikas had been the one to fill the test tube. Adoption wasn’t the same as growing a child for nine months. I don’t care what the politically correct say, there’s a reason women get pregnant. We thanked the doctor for his time and went home.
It took some work for the rational to overpower the emotional in Vikas. I practically had to twist his arm to get him to take me to bed when we got home from the doctor’s. I knew I had to put him back on the horse that threw him. I put my best effort into it and finally convinced him that he was the man I loved and the man I wanted to be with. I didn’t love him any less than all the other times we’d made love and he hadn’t been able to make a baby. The only difference now was that we knew.
We continued to push through that hurdle until Vikas seemed to accept it and then we talked. He still wanted a child and he convinced me that he would love it as our own, especially if it was my natural child.
I looked for a way around my dilemma. I wanted a baby produced out of love, not something that originated in a turkey baster or a test tube. I didn’t want to cheat on Vikas. I wanted the father to be part of my child’s life, not like the sperm donor who inseminated Mom and disappeared.
I finally saw what had been sitting in front of us the whole time. I told Vikas my idea and he told me it was perfect. We made love to celebrate.
That Saturday, we went over to Dad’s. He’d stopped going to the park since Rocky had died and was happy to see us. I’d called him the night before to make sure it was OK for us to visit and to warn him not to eat breakfast because I was going to make my special French toast.
After stuffing ourselves, I sent the men into the living room to drink their coffee while I cleaned off the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. When I was done, I took the heart necklace Dad had given me so many years before and put it on the outside of my top. I walked into the living room and sat on his lap. I looked at Vikas and he smiled at me and nodded.
“Dad,” I told him, “Vikas and I have a favour we’d like to ask.”
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