I think that my first post really ought to be how belly dancers helped me become a mom.
See, I can't get pregnant. The Spousal Unit and I wanted huge family back when we got married 20 years ago, and we wanted to start right away. But then it didn't happen. Three surgeries, lots of tears, and several visits to specialists later, we finally decided to adopt. Besides. I wasn't getting any younger, and the risks associated with "middle adulthood" (as my sister calls it) were getting too great.
I don't know if you've ever adopted, but let me tell you something. It's expensive. Having babies the old-fashioned way is not only much more fun (at least the creating them part is), it saves a ton of money! We were getting discouraged as we faced the daunting task of saving enough money out of his teacher salary to make it happen.
I confided my plight to my friend Julia. She was just about to purchase the studio at which I was teaching belly dance, and she was one of my students, as was her daughter. She knew how desperately I wanted to be a mom. She saw how much I loved children, and thought that I would make a great parent. A little lightbulb went off over her head and she ran her idea by me.
"I want to have a show, with workshops and raffles and everything, as a fundraiser to pay for your adoption."
I cried. I couldn't believe someone would want to go through all that work (because I was no stranger to belly dance production) for lil ole me. Over the next several months, she contacted not only my friends to perform, but some world-famous belly dancers. A link was placed on the studio's website where people could just donate if they wanted to. In April 2009, the Bellydance Baby event happened. Karma, Raven (of TABU), Azyetunammed, Wanda, Alamkara, and Sherri Wheatley performed. It was a magical night! And one month later, something else magical happened.
Belly dancers from all over the world banded together and shared my plight. I realized I was aprt of a greater community that loved me. The same thing happened with my medieval family- I'm a participant in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and they contributed and shared my story. Of course, non-belly dance and modern friends and family helped, too.
In May 2009, my student Mindy decided she would let her natural hair color grow out, so she started taking pre-natal vitamins to help her hair grow faster.
Life went on. I heard from another belly dancer that her teen daughter had been pregnant, but had terminated the pregnancy, and I said if she found herself in that situation again to please talk to me. Well, she did, and I began taking her to her doctor's appointments. This all unfolded in late fall of 2009. Then in December, Mindy's husband Jaime was dropping off their then-17 year old daughter for dance class, and put his hand on my shoulder. "Jill, I want you to have my baby." I blinked a couple times, trying to decipher what he meant. Well, Mindy had just found out the week before that she was pregnant, and the couple (who are also in "middle adulthood") did not want to start over. Knowing we were trying to adopt, thanks to Julia's media blitz, they thought of us. This was Monday, December 14. We agreed to discuss it further after Christmas, since she had just found out, and so was only a couple of months along. Wednesday, December 16, I got a text from the young girl that she was going to keep her baby. I was on my way to teach little girls, and it was by far the worst day of my life. Trying to hold it together in front of a class of confused 8 year olds who just want to wiggle their bottoms is quite the challenge.
Little did I know that very day....
Thursday I got a call from Jaime that led me from the worst day to the best day of my life. "I hope you have a name, because she's here." Tucked away in the NICU at AV Hospital, delivered at 30 weeks, was the most perfect creature who ever lived. apparently Mindy was further along than she realized. In fact, she'd been pregnant since...May. When she started taking prenatal vitamins. People often say, "how could she not know?" None of us did! And there were signs. In class one day, someone was complaining about their cycle, and Mindy, 42 at the time, bragged that she hadn't had hers in months. "Lucky!" we shouted. Another day she complained that since she had cut her dance class schedule down due to work, she had been gaining weight. I saw her all the time. I never would have guessed she was pregnant. None of us did. But she was, and I am so grateful!
Alice was breathing on her own the day she was delivered. She was so tiny! We had to wait until she got up to 4 lbs before we could take her home, a feat that took another six weeks. She is healthy, happy, hilarious, and the best way to become a mommy.
I am so thankful to all my modern friends and family for their prayers and financial contributions, and especially to my belly dance sisters and medieval family because they REALLY stepped up to the plate so we could pay for Alice's adoption. It was an annoying process. It was nerve-wracking. It was expensive. It is SO WORTH IT.
June 1, 2011, Alice legally became my daughter. But she was mine long before anyone knew about her.