My wife Michelle and I had a sinking feeling when Joey was born. Nine months to the day after our first child, Jennifer.
We didn’t have sex for weeks after Jennifer’s birth; the gynecologist said it wasn’t safe. And Joey wasn’t premature. Fully formed and raring to go. The doctors baffled. A biological oddity.
It took ages to conceive our first. Clinical conversations held in sterile, white offices. Pills and shots. Wives tale solutions like rosemary vagina steams. Prayers to St. Anne.
Even though devout Christians, we kept a statue of the Egyptian fertility goddess Bestat in our bedroom, which we kissed before having perfunctory ovulation sex.
Something must have worked. Too well.
Baby three, blonde-headed Jackie. Ten fingers, ten toes. Arrived in seven months.
After baby four showed up in six months, spunky Jasmine, the media caught wind of our circumstance. Reporters, armed with microphones and videocameras, mobbed our now cramped ranch home.
We signed onto our own reality show. Michelle, Michael, and More.
For awhile, we almost enjoyed ourselves. Sprawling McMansion. Free diapers and baby food from show sponsors. Cash from strangers. Nannies around the clock. Even talks of a book deal.
But the babies kept coming. Jessica, baby five, in sixteen weeks. Jason in nine. Lucky number seven, chubby Jeffrey, in a breakneck five.
The fickle public soon lost interest. Our show canceled. The free gifts and cash slowed to a trickle, then stopped.
It’s not like we didn’t try to stem the baby tidal wave. We tried abstinence. No dice. Baby eight, James, tumbled out in one month flat.
Next, the doctors performed a hysterectomy. Three weeks later, baby number nine, Jade, appeared. Michelle’s uterus grew back.
Our babies’ cries bounced off the walls, reverberating like electric drills in our ears. But one look at their cherub faces and guilt washed over us. We slugged down more black coffee and continued the round-the-clock childrearing.
My wife’s body was now a battlefield, shelled over and over. Ginger hair streaked gray. Loose skin and C-section scars. Her eyes liquid, beyond exhaustion.
Our bank account lost the war too. My mother-in-law hospitalized from a stress-induced stroke. My two brothers stopped speaking to me.
I even lost my job at the firm from falling asleep in court.
The eleventh, Jeremiah, arrived within five days of the tenth, perfect baby Jeraldine. The doctors don’t even congratulate us anymore. We don’t smile or laugh. Our few remaining friends and relatives have kept us upright.
By the time we arrived home from the hospital with our new bundle of joy, Michelle’s stomach looked distended. Did we have days or hours?
This is why I’m telling our story on your program. A plea. Babies to good homes. Not sure how long Michelle can hold out; the doctors think sixteen, seventeen tops.
So, show up at our door, bring the proper papers, and little Jasper is all yours. I heard him pop out of the oven just now.