“Don’t turn blue.” I once spent 24 hours thinking this very thought. Praying it. Directing others to think it, pray it. Begging. “Don’t turn blue. Whatever else happens, just don’t turn fucking blue”. This is not where we started. This is the middle of the story. So I can’t start here. But I did it anyway, which tells you, the reader, that it’s important. I will say it again, later, when I get to the middle. But remember that this is where I started: I’m in a hospital room on Christmas Eve. My wife is pregnant with our daughter. Our world is balancing on a thin edge – we are either going to stay pregnant, or we are going to lose the baby.
Months earlier, 5 months almost to the day to be exact, my wife and I were saying, praying, begging for the exact opposite kind of “turning blue”. In the world of “trying to get pregnant”, which looks a lot like the world you walk around in, but with a singular focus on one thing: trying to get pregnant. For most straight people, you have lots of unprotected sex, and one day, out pops a baby. This is drastically oversimplified, but that’s the gist. For the Homos, we need something from one another: ladies need some sperm, fellas need an egg. Adoption is another mess, which I won’t go in to now; because we wanted to try this first. The “this” in the scenario was to get my wife pregnant. But this still isn’t the beginning. I have to go back and talk about love, or to be more specific, the start of true love.
My wife and I are soul mates. Like, look across the room and fall in love at first sight kind of soul mates. What we have is magical, yet really clearly tangible to our friends and family and most people we meet. We are a team, but like a really fantastic, over-performing, read-your-mind and feel-your-soul team. This love is the kind they make straight movies about. So, we got married – like straight people. And two years later, we started the kid conversation – like straight people. Adding a child was going to be the perfect ending to a fairy tale romance. So, without any trepidation, and filled with all of the naiveté that all new want-to-be parents have, we went to a website to buy sperm – like Lesbos.We researched for days to find one with pictures. We want to see the face attached to the sperm, which in hindsight is such a lady thing to do. Wanted to get a feeling about him. Our donor seemed nice. He had kind eyes. We called him “Nick”. True story: when a man ejaculates, sperm banks can separate a single cum load into about 30 samples. He gets paid a grand, while his junk x 30 now goes for $700 a piece. $700 x 30. Also, because the sperm is frozen, the swimmers aren’t as accurate, so it takes longer to work, so you have to try more times. Each month, you insert about 1 or 2 pops into someone, and then you wait – hope – pray – and you don’t sweat the money because this is your family, your future, your baby.
“Turn blue.” Please turn blue.” We dreamt of things turning “blue”, and that blue was infinite. See, in this world of “Trying to get Pregnant”, you wait a month to ovulate, then you inseminate with the sperm, then you spend 15 bucks on Pregnancy tests, someone urinates, and then you sit by the toilet, hovered over a white stick and hope – pray – beg – for it to turn blue. So we did this, for 9 months. Wait, inseminate, pee, wait, hope, pray for blue, don’t get blue… repeat. All the while hoping for “blue”, because “blue” is infinite.Context is so vital for prayers. That’s what they never teach you in church. Life is such a contrarian bitch sometimes: One day “blue” is hope, a future, a family, and then in seconds, that same “blue” transforms into despair, and grown-up hurt, and you fall apart. But we are not at the despair blue. This is still near the beginning of the story. We are at the “hope” blue. Because after 9 months, we got pregnant! The test turned blue! That kind of blue that extends beyond the horizon, where your life ends but another continues… a legacy: Infinite.
Sonograms look like the universe to me and she was this new star. Her glowing flicker redefined me, and my life. She did this before we even knew she was a she. I’m not the mom. I’m the other mom. She wasn’t “of me”, but she was so mine. I claimed her as mine the moment her name left my lips. She was the girl named Charlie, who would have Lesbian moms, and Monroe would be her middle name – because she was a girl with a boy’s name, like me and her mom, but she had the bombshell middle name to support her duality. She’d be everything – strong, soft, femme, tough, and perfect. But most of all, she was ours, and more particularly, mine. She was mine.
Promises are very dangerous things, because they change us – expectations can be so metaphysical. The promise of Charlie opened a compartment in my heart that wasn’t there previously. If hearts are like intricate Cuckoo clocks, when Charlie’s time came, the four quadrants of my heart expanded. There was a space created just for her, by her. When Charlie’s time came, my heart opened and changed.
I didn’t want kids growing up. I didn’t even think I’d get married. Then I met my wife. Then we got married. I found myself at 30 years old spending upwards of 20 grand on sperm, IUIs, and Gyno bills. And to my surprise, I was so excited about this little girl. It was so specific, this wanting. So focused. I don’t particularly like kids for longer than a few minutes. But in my head, I was going to be Charlie’s mom.
We had said prayers, and begged, and pleaded with the universe to give us “blue.” And it did! Blue was pregnant, and pregnant was Charlie. My wife was 5 months along. The doctor was happy. Charlie was a girl. I was her mother.
We asked for “Blue”, but context is so vital in the universe. Life teaches you this lesson very swiftly.
The day before Christmas Eve, the rest of the world was at peace, while we were clinging to the edge. Most surprises that night came in packages under a tree. Ours came in the form of blood. We are now at the middle of the story.
My wife started bleeding severely, and in a panic, we went to the hospital. We found out that she was in the process of losing the baby. Her cervix had opened prematurely and the amniotic sac that carries the baby was exposed. If it burst, we’d lose Charlie, because she wasn’t far enough along to survive on her own.
The nurses put my wife in bed and inverted her to try and push the sac back in to her uterus. And we met a doctor who was going to do a surgery that would help keep Charlie inside. We had a plan. There was hope… with one astounding condition: Charlie had to stay in the amniotic sac. It couldn’t break. Any fluid that leaked out of my wife would be tested with these little white strips, and if they turned blue, it meant the sac had burst.
And then, in an instance, our “blue”, the one that represented the infinite, the one that was Charlie’s life, beyond our life: Our continuation of beautiful girls with boy’s names, became a shallow pool of fluid in a pad: Finite, specific, and definitive.
We had only asked for Blue. We didn’t know there were so many shades. We didn’t know that horizons have limits. We needed context.
“Don’t turn blue.” I spent 24 hours thinking this very thought. Praying it. Directing others to think it, pray it. Begging. “Don’t turn blue. Whatever else happens, just don’t turn fucking blue”. And then, my wife felt a gush. Her beautiful hazel eyes shot at me a look that I can never un-see, and I yelled for the nurse.
It’s Christmas Eve, and most people are bending over stoves to tend to meals, or piles of gifts to show their appreciation. I am bending over my wife’s crotch in a hospital bed in Santa Monica. A nurse straddles her from the opposite side. We’re face to face, the nurse and I. I can see her pupils dilating and starting to tear. Her eyes were green. It was comforting for a second, to see green. She lifted the white strip from the sheet, and the tip was blue. The fluid on the bed was amniotic fluid and we were losing Charlie. I remember the tightening of my heart. The four quadrants pulsated, and the space for Charlie shook. The clock stopped.
“Blue” wasn’t the hope-filled kind anymore. “Blue” was the devastating blow that made my wife scream and cry. We had said prayers, and begged, and pleaded with the universe… but it gave us “blue”: A finite, specific, and definitive blue.
Charlie Monroe Boccumini was born on December 24th, 2011. She took one breath in her short life. She looked exactly like her mother, had her Irish nose, her long and delicate fingers, and if she had opened her eyes, I am certain they’d have been the same color hazel. She had nothing of mine yet, yet she was, and is, and will always be mine.
We prayed for a child, and since context is so vital for prayers, we got one, but not in the way we thought. 4 years later, we are still living our fairytale, my wife and I. We’re still a team, an even stronger team, because we’ve been through hell together. We’re still in love, because true love never dies. Nor can it be killed by death, at least, not for us any way. What is born of love lives on forever.
I have a tattoo for Charlie on my arm. It’s where the nurses placed her when I held her for the first time and last time. That image of my instance of motherhood plays over in my head sometimes when I look at it, but it’s more of a memory now. The shudder of pain isn’t as immediate because we know what life is like after blue turns from infinite to finite. My wife and I had to walk that dark and lonely path, but we emerged. We found out that there are still horizons beyond that one horizon. We found out that despite hearing it and resenting hearing it, that perhaps there may be a larger plan after all, and that an instance of motherhood was enough for us this time.
We got what we asked, pleaded, and begged for. That’s our story. And it’s not traditional, and it’s not easy, or happy, but it’s ours.
That thing I mentioned before… about my heart… that space still stands empty to this day. I think it may persist forever. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t live. What mattered was that she was mine – my first – and that made her perfect forever. That is the place she created with the promise of her, and that promise was fulfilled – if even for a moment. She existed, as does my love for her. Love made that space. And love, true love, never dies.
My daughter Charlie Monroe Boccumini died on December 24th, 2011. She is survived by her Mother’s Cori and Kacy, and her cat Jonesy. She will be in our hearts forever. She will be in my heart forever.