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Double Out and Back

Author(s): Lisa Lipkind Leibow

Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom!

Who will find friends, family, and fertility?

Three women's lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients' dreams a reality.

After more than a decade, of mourning her parents' deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings.

Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?

___________________

Excerpt

"I'm ready!" Summer sprinted from the bathroom, where she had just rinsed her mouth with her favorite cinnamon-flavored mouthwash and inserted her diaphragm. It was probably overkill, since she also wore a birth control patch, but she refused to take any chances.

Summer sped through the condo, running through rooms all lined up in a row, from the tiny antiquated bathroom through the eat-in kitchen with her grandmother's old Formica table and vinyl chairs, then past Jeremy's hideous bachelor sofa that dominated the living room. Some people called the condo a railroad flat while others called it shotgun-style. She liked the former description better; it sounded less violent. Although, she supposed, she would have a greater chance of dodging a bullet racing through her home than she would of escaping a train barreling through it.

Summer dashed past the entrance of the small study alcove off the living room and into the bedroom where Jeremy waited. She pounced on the finest mattress and linens – her and Jeremy's sole splurge.

Eagerly, she wrapped her arms and legs around Jeremy. She expected him to return her playfulness, but tonight he pulled away from their tight embrace and held her at arm's length, his hands on her shoulders. His hair, so black it looked blue, always captivated Summer. His eyes, equally alluring in their darkness, were solemn.

"We have to talk," he said.

"Now? What is it?" she asked.

Summer untangled herself from him and pulled up the patchwork quilt. Jeremy swallowed hard, but still he said nothing.

Summer said, "Tell me. It can't be that bad." She combed his dark bangs with her fingers.

He cleared his throat.

"Jeremy, tell me. You're making me nervous," she said.

"Okay," he said, "here goes." He cleared his throat again, and then said, "Summer, I've never told you that," his speech accelerated, "I'm adopted."

"What?" she asked.

"I'm adopted," he repeated. "That's why I want us to have a baby so badly."

She released a chuckle, feeling a great sense of relief. "That's your big secret? Oh, Jeremy, you had me scared out of my mind." She moved closer to him. "I was thinking, some horrible disease, or you used to be a woman," she said and then laughed, adding, "I guess I wonder, though, why you didn't tell me before."

Jeremy's face looked pale and tense. His normally sonorous voice became tinny. "I remember when I was five years old. Two neighbors from down the street, both mothers of big families. Between them they had nine children. They gossiped on the playground at my school while I was bouncing up and down on a seesaw with my friend. Maybe they didn't know I was there, but I heard them clear as anything. They were talking about a local couple planning to adopt a baby and one said, 'I would rather be childless than to adopt someone else's problem.' Problem! Can you believe it? I was only five, but I knew I was adopted. From that day on, I vowed never to tell anyone. It's none of their business."

Summer pressed her hand against Jeremy's shoulder, guiding him to rest on the bed again. He didn't budge. She kissed him and asked, "Adopted?"

"Yes," he confirmed.

"So you're telling me now? As foreplay?" she asked, laughing aloud.

Then he relaxed into a smile and said, "I know it may not seem like such a big deal, but it is to me. I really want to have a baby so I can know someone who is part of me. I want my children to feel certain they're wanted. Plus, I've never had the experience of knowing someone biologically related to me. You need to be sure, too." He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "I have no idea what's in my genes. Hell, someday our kids could look like…like the jolly green giant – nothing like either one of us. You would wonder, right?" Jeremy retreated.

"That doesn't matter to me." Summer scooted closer to him. She contemplated how seriously Jeremy took this. How could he worry about this when having a child was years away? Summer felt positive she would be concerned about giving birth to a healthy baby when the time came, and not how much the baby looked like her or Jeremy.

Jeremy's confession brought them closer together. He shared with her what he believed to be his deepest, most intimate secret. Jeremy smiled, revealing clean, white teeth. The top two front teeth overlapped just enough to make him look real, not like an airbrushed GQ type. Summer's freckled nose rested against Jeremy's nose. When she looked into his eyes from that vantage point, she spied his heavy, neat eyebrows. His chin felt smooth against her chin.

Jeremy smiled. "The thought of you having my baby just thrills me. We could have a son or daughter with your gorgeous eyes, silky hair, and my golf swing; or with your long legs, my black hair and flair for logic. It's phenomenal no matter how I imagine it. Plus, whoever our baby is, that little boy or girl will be the first person biologically related to me I'll ever meet. It'll be great." He looked unsure for a moment. "Don't you think?"


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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-60435-365-5
Genre: Fiction
Date Published: 08/13/2009
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing

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