Author: Joy DeKok
Title: Rain Dance
Publisher: Sheaf House
Genre: Contemporary fiction/Women’s fiction
Jonica is infertile. Stacie chooses an abortion. One is prolife the other prochoice. Both are suddenly alone in misunderstanding, facing hypocrisies in their belief systems, and grieving – one the death of a dream and the other the death of her child. As their hearts break where in the world will they find healing and grace? Can shattered dreams be part of the plan?
Life as I knew it ended.
In the waiting room I sat in the front row, hoping the chair next to me would remain empty. A year ago, when we first came to the clinic, hope ruled. The receptionists smiled and welcomed me with friendly small talk.
It didn’t bother me that the infertility department was in the same section of the clinic as OB/GYN. I loved watching new moms cradle their little ones wrapped in soft blankets, toddlers by their sides.
Once, while a woman nursed her fussy newborn daughter, I sat on the floor and played Hot Wheels with her three-year-old son. When the nurse called his mom, he grinned at me and said, “Tanks!” as we collected his cars from the floor and put them in his bag. He grabbed his mom’s outstretched hand, curling his fingers around two of hers. The reach pulled up his red Pooh T-shirt, and his little belly button peeked out. I yearned to feel my child’s hand hold fast to mine.
Painful tests, frequent invasive exams, nauseating drugs, terrible periods, and embarrassing questions became my reality.
The gals at the desk no longer chatted with me. Instead, they accepted my appointment card and directed me to sit down. The air filled with baby sounds and smells now made me sick. Bile burned my aching throat.
I clenched my jaws and begged the Almighty silently, Please don’t let anyone ask, “How far along are you?” I’m tired of telling women with swollen stomachs that I’m here for infertility testing.
I buried my nose in a magazine that Ben, my husband, had received in the mail and wanted me to read. As I browsed the first few pages, my mind wandered.
I’d made this appointment to tell Dr. Steele we no longer wanted medical intervention to help us conceive. It cost too much in every way. Our health insurance didn’t cover any of the testing, and we’d paid more than ten thousand dollars with no end in sight. Putting a dollar amount on the changes inside our marriage proved impossible. Our intimate life revolved around my temperature. Charts and a thermometer took the place of candles on the nightstand.
Each month when my flow started, our failure to conceive was once more confirmed. Every cramp slammed the truth home. No success again. Will you always betray me? I accused my body. I chastised myself: You keep messing up. I defended myself to my internal tormentor: It isn’t my fault.
Then the cycle started again with the silent hope . . . maybe next month . . . easing its way back into position.
I didn’t want to disappoint Dr. Steele. His raw passion for the work inspired respect and his stern demeanor intimidated me. I longed to be one of his success stories instead of admitting defeat. A high voltage man specializing in in vitro fertilization, he focused his energy on finding an answer. He didn’t consider quitting an option.
I lifted a silent cry to God. Infertility is harsh and relentless. Where are You in all of this?
I stiffened my spine and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. I ordered my tears to stay put. This wasn’t the time or the place.
I regretted not calling his assistant and leaving a message. Why did I have to see his furrowed brow and hear his certain criticism?
A still small voice said, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you.”
I knew the Voice but was in the mood to argue. I was so fragile and broken I was sure that nothing I said could possibly help anyone.
Pick someone else! My heart screamed.
A couple of chairs down, two women talking interrupted my internal babbling. “This blotchy upholstery makes me dizzy. Of course, it could be the morning sickness.”
The other huffed as she pushed on her side. “This one won’t keep his foot out from under my ribs!”
When a nurse called the woman with the rib tickler, she stood up with a soft grunt and followed the nurse, one hand on her back, the other resting on the mound of unborn baby under her maternity top.
I had dressed in comfortable clothes for the appointment: jeans and my favorite soft pink sweatshirt. The loose fit sometimes hid my flat stomach. In this room I was an oddity—a true outsider.
In a flurry of color and energy, a woman stood in front of the chair next to me. Shiny, jaw-length, jet-black hair and jade green eyes sparkled in the clinic lights. Her flat stomach caught my attention and I wondered if she was like me.
“Hi! Is anyone sitting here?” she asked.
She sat down and crossed her jeans-clad legs. Her purple silk blouse and short, clear-lacquered nails glistened. The scent of jasmine swirled by, then seemed to waft back to her as if unable to bear the separation.
She pushed her hair behind her ears, and dangly silver earrings twinkled. “I’m Stacie.”
“My name’s Jonica.”
She pulled a book out of her bag and asked, “So, how far along are you?”
I gave my new answer, “I can’t have children.”
The statement sounded clipped and whiny, so I added, “We’ve been coming to the infertility clinic for months, but now I’m here to terminate medical intervention.” Instead of confident, the words sounded defensive.
“Can’t, but still want to, huh?”
“Yes. But not this way.”
She raised a sculpted eyebrow. “I’m here to terminate something too—a pregnancy.”
She rushed on. “I’m new in a local law practice. My goal is to be a partner one day, representing women and children damaged or wronged by men. A pregnancy right now could hold me back or even halt my advancement. I need to establish myself first. There’s time for a family later—much later. I’m glad we can choose if or when to complete a pregnancy.”
She took a deep breath and exhaled, then tightened her lips and turned to her book, flipping it open. The light danced off a silver-trimmed boot as her foot began to swing slightly.
Tingles of shock pricked my fingertips and toes. My lips went numb, and my throat constricted. I took a deep breath and looked down. Her offensive made me want to defend life, but I didn’t have the strength. I needed to conserve my energy for my meeting with Dr. Steele.
I turned a page in my magazine and stopped. Every muscle in my already stressed body tensed. The photo in front of me showed the tiny hand of an unborn baby resting on a surgeon’s finger. The doctor had performed corrective surgery in vitro when pre-natal tests confirmed spina bifida.
God, give me the courage to show this to Stacie.
The nurse stepped up to the microphone and called my name. I closed the magazine, offered it to Stacie and said, “I’m done with this. You might find it interesting.”
She looked up briefly, took the magazine, and tucked it into the outside pocket of her purse. “Thanks. Nice to meet you.”
I followed the nurse down the hall, watching her waist-length auburn braid swish against her straight back and thinking I’d just lied. It wasn’t nice to meet Stacie. I could have lived my whole life never having heard her pro-abortion dissertation.
The nurse indicated the examination table. “Dr. Steele will be right in for your consultation. Just have a seat.”
While I waited for the doctor, my dread increased. Dr. Steele was confident we could conceive with a little help from a friend: him. Photographs and thank you letters lined the walls. Smiling parents held babies and celebrated birthday parties. Happy faces beamed from family pictures.
I remembered the questionnaires we had filled out about our health, motives, and ability to pay. The doctor invited us to add a page about anything we wanted. Ben and I wrote about our faith.
Dr. Steele read it and commented, “I feel much like a creator myself.”
Ben said, “We believe in only one Creator.”
Our physician shrugged and diverted our attention to the first test. He kept all conversations professional from then on despite the intimacy involved in our circumstances, even when disappointment moved me to tears in front of him. I guess that made it easier for all of us.
I gripped my damp, cold hands in my lap, while my thoughts tip-toed back to the woman in the waiting room. I decided it was time for a pity party.
How could this happen today of all days? I’m saying goodbye to a dream and she sits next to me? There’s nothing wrong with her goals. All the things she wants to do are good, but she is willingly sacrificing her baby on the altar of achievement. Does she think that because abortion is legal all women agree with her? Who was she trying to convince—herself or me? It’s not fair. Why can she conceive and I can’t?
Before I could battle the subject out further, the door swung open on silent hinges and Dr. Steele entered. His short, bristly gray hair stood straight up. Hazel eyes with amber flecks smiled from behind gold-framed glasses. His yellow smiley-face tie softened his starched shirt, creased trousers, and shiny shoes. A stethoscope hung around his neck.
We shook hands, and he sat in his desk chair.
“Where’s Ben?” he asked, as he slid a brochure on in vitro fertilization toward me.
His chair creaked when he leaned forward. “We can start anytime you’re ready.” He paused for a moment anticipating an affirmative answer.
A Godzilla-sized cramp squeezed my stomach.
I heard myself say, “Ben and I are done. Our insurance doesn’t cover the financial end of it, and the emotional costs are far too expensive. We don’t want to face the moral and ethical dilemmas that heroic medical methods involve.”
All my practice in front of the mirror at home hadn’t improved my verbal delivery here either.
He snapped his chair into the upright position. His eyes lit with a golden fire, and his lips drew a straight line across his face. He ran his hand through his hair, and let out a loud, slow breath.
“I can’t believe an educated and intelligent couple like you and Ben can’t see the future in medical science. Why let some outdated religious beliefs keep you from realizing your dreams?”
“God is the Creator of science. He knew you before your conception and gave you life as well as your incredible abilities as a doctor. He is the One who leads Ben and me in all areas of our lives. We’re uncomfortable with frozen sperm, harvested eggs, and test-tube babies. We don’t want to deal with three to six microscopic embryos—which we believe are human beings—inserted into my body and possibly losing them all. Each time we lost one, we’d grieve. We’ve decided to focus our love on the children already in our lives.”
“That’s quite a sermon.”
Suddenly short of breath, I couldn’t get a single word out. Cool air crossed over my tongue so I knew my mouth was open. The sensation caused a reflex action, and I pressed my lips shut.
“I’m sorry you feel this way. My confidence is in human abilities and science. Many Christian couples come to me for help and are grateful for our methods.” He flipped my file shut and continued, “What makes you superior to them?”
“We’re not better than anyone else—and if it works for others without guilt, I’m happy for them. It just isn’t right for us. I’m sorry I sounded so defensive. I hate it when I get that way. We made this a prayerful decision. I hoped you’d accept our choice. I didn’t want it to end this way.”
“This is goodbye then. I wish you the best in your life.” He rose to leave.
“Do you ever wonder if you’re wrong and God is real?” I asked, also standing.
He held the door open for me. “I don’t need to hear about your beliefs. I read your forms, and other Christians come here. I’ve heard it all before.”
I reached into my purse. “I’d like to give you a small gift as my thanks for your effort to help us.”
“Clinic policy doesn’t allow us to accept gifts from patients.”
“Maybe you’d like to borrow this book from me then.” I handed him The Case for Christ.
“This is a new one,” he muttered, glancing at the back cover.
“I know you’re disappointed and so are we. Please know we appreciate your knowledge and the time you spent with us. I’d love to be able to send you a photo of a little girl who looks like me or a little boy who looks like Ben celebrating a birthday or Christmas. Without divine intervention, that’s not going to happen.”
The lump in my throat warned me I was close to tears, but I managed to say, “Goodbye Dr. Steele.”
The golden flames in his eyes receded. “Good-bye.”
I watched him walk away. For all his gruffness and disbelief, I would miss him. He wanted to help us conceive and couldn’t. In a way, we’d both just lost. I walked down the hallway in the opposite direction. It was over.
When I returned to the waiting room, I heard the receptionist call, “Stacie Cutter.” Stacie got up and followed her out of my sight down the other hall.
I wanted to run and considered finding the stairs. Instead I paced while the elevator made a slow climb to my floor. A man on crutches and a woman in a wheelchair shared my descent and got off on different floors along the way down.
I dug the keys out of my purse while I speed walked to the parking ramp. Shaking, I missed the lock on my car door and the key scratched the paint.
I got into the car. Yanking on my seatbelt, I grabbed my payment stub from behind the visor. The tires squealed as I took the tight ramp corners a little faster than usual.
Hold on until you get home, I commanded my tears.
I paid the smiling man at the booth, then three red lights and two stop signs later pulled into our driveway. I ran up the sidewalk, unlocked the back door, and threw my purse on the counter.
I stood in the middle of the kitchen with both fists clenched so tightly that my fingernails gouged my palms. My mind registered the pain, and then I pressed harder.
I sobbed out loud, “Lord, I’m angry! Why us? We waited for intimacy until marriage. We did what You asked. We love children. We tithe, we pray, we go to church. We believe in You, and we always will. Please tell me why You give children to women who will throw them away. Father, I feel so empty!”
Only the ticking clock answered my cry.
God said no. Our dream died, and Ben would always come home to only me.
Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.