The Donor - Chapter One
Twenty minutes earlier
When my son, Ian, called me and said that he wanted to talk I had no idea what would transpire and how crazy he would sound. We had a close relationship, and it was obvious in the tone of his voice that he had something big on his mind. I asked him what it was but he insisted that he had to speak to me in person. So I waited for his arrival.
He and his wife, Laura had been married for eight years and had been together for twelve, and ever since they had married they had been trying, unsuccessfully for a child. Unfortunately for them both, Ian had leukaemia as a child. Thankfully, after a couple of years of intense treatment, he was given the all-clear, something that we were all incredibly grateful for. However, chemotherapy and radiation therapy meant that he was made infertile, and unable to father any children.
We, as a family knew this from the day that he started his treatment, and whilst we were devastated for him, he was ten at the time, our priority was to get him cured and that was our only focus. We were lucky, a lot of kids who he had treatment with at the same time, didn’t make it, and we were so glad that he did, and has remained clear to this day.
Four years ago, my wife, Elizabeth died suddenly from a massive brain aneurysm which left the whole family devastated. Our daughter, Sarah was pregnant with our second grandchild at the time and her impending arrival helped us, as a family, to focus on a positive, and it helped us all to cope with our bereavement, especially me.
After Emily’s arrival, I noticed that Laura became very withdrawn and depressed, and although I had guessed the reason it was still upsetting to hear her say that he was desperate to become a mother. We both knew that no matter how much Ian wanted to, he could never father a child for her.
My solution was to pay for her to get IVF treatment. She was reluctant at first, she desperately wanted a baby, but she also wanted my son’s baby, and not some random, unknown stranger, no matter how well he had been vetted.
Eventually, we, Ian and I, convinced her to give it a try, and they embarked on two rounds of IVF on the NHS, unfortunately, the first failed and the second, though initially positive, failed when she miscarried in her fourth month. As devastated as she was, I persuaded her to give it another go, and I funded the treatment myself, it was difficult, I’m not a wealthy man, but some things you just have to do for your children.
Initially, it looked positive, she got pregnant, and got to three months, but, she miscarried again and was left even more devastated than before.
That was three months ago, and I assumed that when Ian called me he wanted to talk about another round of treatment, which worried me as I would need to dip into my retirement savings if I was to fund it again. It worried me, but I knew that I’d do it.
I left the front door unlocked and waited for him in the conservatory. I heard the door open and then close, he called out, and when I replied he walked through the lounge and into the conservatory. I smiled at him.
“Hi, son,” I said.
He smiled and walked over and gave me our standard greeting, a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I patted his back, I could tell that he was tense, I was going to say something but experience has taught me to wait, he will get around to it eventually.
I offered him a drink, he shook his head and slumped into one of the chairs opposite me. I looked at him.
“You look, knackered son,” I said.
“Yeah. I’m not sleeping very well, dad.” He explained.
I sighed, it wasn’t uncommon for him to have trouble sleeping.
“And Laura too. I’m worried about her dad.” He sighed.
He explained that his wife had struggled badly since the last miscarriage, and nothing that he had tried could bring her out of her slump and he was worried about her mental health.
“She is okay though?” I asked. “I mean, she’s not in any danger is she?”
“I don’t think so, dad. But it has hit her hard dad. This time is worse than the others.”
I sympathised with him, but I was as powerless as he was to give her what she wanted. I started to talk about another round of treatment and said that I would, of course, fund it. I would have to go into my emergency savings, but that’s what they were for.
“She’s had enough dad. She said no more treatment. She’s done with the poking and probing. You know that we had to persuade her to go through with it in the first place, well she said that she can’t do it any more.”
I looked at my son, he looked beaten. He sat, slumped in the chair, the weight of the world on his shoulders, I felt for him.
“Well you know that I am here for her, we all are. If there is anything that I can do to help you both then just say it.” I said.
He sighed and we both sat in silence for a while. I watched him as he stared at the floor in front of him. I wanted to get up and hug him and tell him that it would be okay, but I couldn’t say that I didn’t know. He slowly lifted his eyes and looked at me. I noticed that they were watery, he was emotional, but they also looked determined. He stared at me.
“The thing is dad, there is something that you can do for us.” He said.
I looked at him.
“Anything, just tell me,” I replied.
He took a breath and then started to explain.
“The thing is dad. She still wants a baby. We both do. But, she’d done with the whole IVF process. And, as I’ve always known, she hated the idea of having a stranger’s child, but was prepared to go through with it because we had no other option.”
I looked at him, he was right, but I didn’t see how I could be of any help to them, yet. He continued.
“She told me that if we are going to have a baby, then it has to be by natural conception, and it has to look like me.” He sighed.
I stared at him.
“But? You can’t, son.” I said.
He nodded and sighed.
“I know dad. I can’t.”
I stared, I was confused. He looked straight into my eyes.
“But you can.”
I stared. My mouth fell open, I was speechless. I must have looked ridiculous, I just sat there and stared at him while he explained that they had discussed it at length, and she was fully behind the idea, they wanted me to father their child, naturally. Eventually, I pulled myself together.
“You want me to what? Are you fucking serious?” I said loudly.
He kept his eyes on me as he nodded.
I leapt to my feet and turned away. My heart pounded inside my chest, I felt light-headed and my breathing was rapid.
“You’re fucking crazy!” I shouted.
I walked around the conservatory, I couldn’t look at him, my head was spinning and I was confused as he tried to reason with me.
“Dad. Stop. Think about it. If you did it, the baby would have half your DNA, as I do, he or she would look like me, no-one would know, and Laura would get to have her baby the way that she has always wanted.”
I stopped beside the door to the garden.
“Always wanted? A baby by her father-in-law?” I said.
He stared back.
“Father-in-law, dad. Not her father. You are as much a blood relative to her as I am.” He said, trying to remain calm, which was just as well, one of us needed to be, and I wasn’t.
I opened the door to the garden and stepped outside, I needed to breathe, I needed some fresh air, to clear my head. I walked around the garden, my head spun with his words. I couldn’t believe what he had just asked me to do. There was no way that I could do it, not Laura, she was like a daughter to me.
I glanced back to the house, Ian was sat in the same place that I’d left him. He stared out at me, I looked over to him, he looked tired and tense, it couldn’t have been easy for him to come and ask me that. But shit! There was no way that I could help them, not like this.
It took a few minutes, but I slowly calmed and as my heart-rate slowed I walked back into the room. He looked up.
“I’m sorry dad. I know that it was a shock.” He said.
I forced a smile.
“You could say that son.”
He nodded. He stood and hugged me, I could feel him tremble as I held him.
I sighed. “What makes you think that it would be any more successful doing it, your way, that with IVF?” I asked.
He sighed. “Dad. I’ve talked to people. It would have a better chance, there would be no extracting eggs, and mixing them in a petri-dish. She’s fertile dad, I’m not, that’s the problem.”
I sighed. My head was in a mess. He hugged me once more.
“Do me a favour dad. Don’t reject us straight away.” He whispered.
I sighed. Why did he have to say that? I felt terrible for feeling as I did. He kissed my cheek.
“I love you, dad. I promised Laura that I would do anything so that we could have a baby.” He sighed. “This is my everything.”
He kissed my cheek one last time and headed for the door. I followed and watched as he slipped into his car, and with a final wave, he drove away. I watched until he was out of sight, then I turned and closed the door behind me and leaned against it and closed my eyes.
‘Shit! That was a surprise’ I thought and then walked into the lounge and poured myself a large whisky. I sat down on the sofa and took a sip, as the smooth Malt Whiskey slid down my throat I sighed, closed my eyes and recalled the first time that I met Laura.
She was seventeen when they met, and he brought her home to meet his mum and me after school one Friday. I remember thinking, as I met her, ’how the hell have you pulled her son?’. She was a beautiful girl, her long red hair in a ponytail, she had a very natural look, never one to wear a huge amount of make-up, even now, she doesn’t need it.
She was very shy, but very polite and had impeccable manners. Her parents were both teachers and had raised their only child well. I knew almost straight away that he was serious about her. As a teenager, he had never been short of female attention, and like a lot of lads his age, he didn’t always treat them well, but Laura was different.
Almost immediately, he saw a lot less of his pals and spent more and more time with her. He stopped dressing like he didn’t care, and took pride and attention in how he looked. Even his manners improved, something which my late wife attributed totally to Laura, and even his grades at school improved and he passed his A-levels, though not with the high grades that she did. Even so, we were delighted, before she arrived in his life he was heading for failure.
The moment that I knew that they were destined to be together was when she announced that she had changed the university that she had initially decided to go to. She went to the local university so that she could be close to Ian, who had been taken on as an engineering apprentice at a local manufacturing company.
They got engaged while she was at university. My wife was delighted, she and Laura had grown closer and closer over the years, we both had come to love her and were so happy for them both.
Their wedding we perfect, great weather and a great day, and they started married life together in their first home, which both sets of parents helped to get them going.
And up to the present day, they have been as happy as any couple could be, the only dark cloud on their horizon, the fact that Ian was sterile. But whilst I knew that Laura wanted to have kids, I also knew that she understood Ian’s condition, and accepted it from the start of their relationship. They had spoken about it very early on, and she had always said that they would figure out a way to get around it.
I looked out onto the garden as the birds played in the feeders that I had dotted around the place. I thought that solution would be adoption. I shook my head.
“You never imagined that this would be her solution, did you?” I whispered to myself.