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Searching for Pinky: An Absurdly True Quest for Motherhood & Family is absurdly gorgeous, moving, profound, funny & inspirational. Alexia Baum is a brave, honest, vulnerable, eloquent, exquisite writer who tells a story of love, hope and advocacy. I will not be surprised when it starts winning awards and appears on 'Best Of' lists. This is an exceptional memoir, and marks the arrival of an important literary voice.

- Terrie Silverman, MFA

Making Other Plans - Excerpt

It was during turbulence at 30,000 feet somewhere over North Dakota, leaning against the 747’s cold metal bathroom wall for balance, syringe and needle in hand, pants crumpled down around my ankles, ass bruised purple and yellow like a Santa Fe sunset, when it hit me – this was definitely not what I imagined when I contemplated motherhood.

It had been two years since I had first repeated what had since become my mantra – “I am a happy and healthy pregnant woman.” And later, as my pregnancy had gone awry, my In Vitro prospects were dimming, and we began seriously considering adoption, I updated my mantra to, “I am the mother of a happy, healthy child in ___ (fill in the year).” I ultimately had to include four or five subsequent years in that blank.
But if there’s one thing I’d learned, and sometimes felt like the poster child for, it was the old truism, “Man (sic) plans and God laughs.”  Or as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

 I was nine months pregnant for five years. That is, I had been expecting, or hoping to be expecting, every second of every day of that time. I watched as friends who weren’t even dating when I first started trying met, got married, and had their first and then second kids. I couldn’t decide whether I was proud of or aghast at my own increasingly rabid and single-minded pursuit of This One Thing. I constantly dreaded and whenever possible skipped family gatherings, office parties, and birthday celebrations – don’t even mention baby showers – as the sheer number of people in my 30-something age bracket made it a likelihood that at least one pregnant person would be there. I avoided opening pink or blue announcements from all of my married friends. In short, I lived in fear of being side by side with someone else’s pregnancy joy when I felt like it was being held endlessly, painfully, inexplicably in front of me like a golden carrot on a stick that I would never be able to reach.

Until you’ve been denied something that you always naturally assumed was your birthright, you really can’t comprehend the blistering, fuming frustration of seeing what feels like every other person in the world enjoy that same right. On a daily basis I cringed when I saw pregnant women walk past, some glowing, others glowering, but all of them in possession of the one thing I knew I wanted more than anything else in the world – a robust, fertile, impregnated belly.

My then-husband David and I had met in our 30s, and I had happily moved from Los Angeles to New York to join him; we knew that we wanted to have children, and I got pregnant less than six months after our wedding. I knew the second I got pregnant; it felt like a gentle starburst inside my body. It sounds corny but I have heard other women say the same thing. I bought a pregnancy test kit and peed on the stick, and when it swelled with color, it affirmed what I already knew. 

I called David at his office. “Guess what?” I said calmly.

“You’re pregnant,” he said.

“How did you know?” I asked, surprised.

“I just knew.” I could hear his smile.

I felt like a powerful, magical being, like I was physically gliding through space, beautiful and untouchable. I felt sexy, soft, and overwhelmingly happy.

My doctor confirmed my pregnancy and told me that my due date would be around Thanksgiving. “Sorry, but your Turkey Day food isn’t gonna be so great,” Dr. Jonathan smiled.

Handsome Dr. Jonathan was about my age and had been recommended by a woman in another doctor office. I had never worked with a male OB-GYN before – I was much more comfortable with someone who had the same equipment as did I – but I was so thrilled to be pregnant that I was happy to listen to the woman’s referral.
“I don’t care,” I beamed to Dr. Jonathan, “they could feed me gruel and I’d be thrilled just to be there.”

They say you’re not supposed to tell people you’re expecting until you’re past the first three months, just in case, but we couldn’t keep it to ourselves. We’ll just tell our parents and our best friends, we told ourselves. Two hours later we had phoned people from the East Coast to the west and told no fewer than a dozen friends.

But my elation didn’t last long. It was not more than a week later that I began having abdominal pains, and a panic rose in the back of my throat. During college years earlier, an emergency surgery had removed an ectopic pregnancy, where a fetus was growing in a fallopian tube, which if ruptured can be fatal.  During those college years, they had taken out the swollen tube, along with one ovary that had borne a large cyst, leaving me with one ovary and one fallopian tube remaining. I had been tested to ensure that pregnancy was still possible and safe, and the results said it was. But still, I had to safeguard the parts that were left – from the ovary on one side to the tube on the other, pregnancy might not be easy, but it was technically possible!

As I called Dr. Jonathan, the bloating, pain, and bleeding were all scarily familiar. In my heart, I had a sinking feeling of certainty that this pregnancy was too good to be true and was also ectopic.

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