My husband and I traveled to the Amazon to the home of a shaman that had helped our friends Tricia and Greg conceive. We were kind of scared but we really wanted a baby. When we got to the shaman’s cottage he was wearing a burlap mask with eyeholes. Right away he told Darren and me to take off our clothes.
Darren was like, “Hang on a sec, I thought we were going to light candles and chant.”
The shaman asked if we were nervous. “Yes!” we said, laughing.
Darren grabbed my hand and winked. "I love you,” he whispered. I told him he was my rock.
The shaman gave us a bowl of dog teeth and encouraged us to relax, then gestured to some floor cushions around the cauldron. “Have some tea,” he said, filling our Klean Kanteens with a ladle.
We stayed high for about six days. Darren saw his father, who passed away in 2011. I met a water spirit who finally convinced me to get off gluten.
By day three everyone was crying pretty hard and the shaman admitted he’d never done ayahuasca before. Apparently he was actually a farmer from northeast Brazil. “I had to take a second job,” he said, pulling off the mask. “My soybeans are dying. Soon my family will starve.”
Ten months later I had a healthy baby boy! We named him Mason Brax.
Our church was having a tent revival when this older woman in the congregation, Sister Phyllis, pulled me into the menstruation hut. “I heard you’re trying to have a baby,” she said. I nodded and told her we’d been praying every night. “OK but you’ve got to use sperm,” she said, glancing over her shoulder. “Human sperm, it’s the only way.”
I almost laughed, until I noticed she was serious. “But Father Cody says touching sperm contaminates our earthly vessels.”
She put a finger to my lips. “Sperm,” she said.
“Sperm,” I repeated.
We grabbed hands and bowed our heads when the thatch door opened and Sister Jacqueline came in to see who needed hosing. “Blessed be the Lord thy God!” we all chanted. “Father God, Alleluia!”
After TTC for three years plus two surgeries, my acupuncturist asked to meet my partner, Cal. I picked up Cal from work and we drove to the clinic, but after walking through the door he said he wanted to go.
“But we’re already here!” I cried. “Why are you always breaking promises?”
“Me breaking promises?” Cal yelled. “What about that time you forgot to pick me up from the airport?”
“You know what?” I said. “My grandmother had just died, so fuck you, you fucking son of a bitch.”
Just then Susan opened the door of the waiting room to tell us we could remove our shoes and enter the healing chamber. “How many healthy fetuses do you want to grow?” she asked. I told her six and that’s how many needles she stuck in Cal’s penis. We didn’t get pregnant for another two years.
After being told by doctors we couldn’t have kids, my husband and I adopted some orphans from the Allegheny Mountains. The oldest, Donny, was seventeen. He had this habit of creeping into our room at night—sometimes he was sleepwalking, other times, just watching. One day I caught him rubbing his genitals on the stove and I got to thinking: didn’t something about Donny seem strange?
I decided to do some digging. With the help of a neighbor I soon discovered that “Donny” was really a 37-year-old man, a psychology professor named Gary Dupree who’d been laid off by the University of Kentucky. When my husband and I confronted him, he pulled out a contract. “I’m writing a book about my time here,” he said. “You already signed the release forms.”
“We thought those were adoption papers,” my husband said. “Now get out of here before I tear your goddamn nuts off.”
At family court the following Tuesday, a lady in line for a divorce suggested the fertility drug Clomid. “And chiropractic adjustments!” she said. “Those will help, too.” The court ruled that Donny/Gary Dupree could stay in our home unless my husband and I paid out $10,000 for breach of contract.
“My family doesn’t have that kind of money,” my husband said.
“Then I guess you’ll be taking your son home today,” the judge answered.
A few months later we found out we were pregnant—with twins!
Green tea and organic lube!!