I had five miscarriages; now we have four children. No one is more surprised by our improbable family than me.
My name is Dana and I'm a mom mostly, but on occasion I'm a writer too. I'm also a hobby gardener, dedicated yogi, coffee shop regular and park connoisseur.
I've always loved words and writing. I majored in English as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, then paid a fortune several years later to get a fancy journalism degree from fancy Northwestern University.
In between, I traveled the world: Asia, Africa, Europe.
I once called a rural village in northern Japan home for two years. It was a solitary, but empowering, time. I was isolated by language and culture and a raft of other issues. But there were adventures and new experiences, unforgettable characters and dear friends in similar circumstances.
I wrote a column in the local newspaper that my friend Makiko painstakingly translated into Japanese. I got the big idea to write for real - like actually make a living from it - when I realized people read what I wrote. And talked about it.
I met my husband when I returned. I was a clerk at a now-defunct DC bookstore. He was a customer. We drank a beer, then sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and geeked out about books, politics, writers and writing. I fell in love immediately. It took him a little longer.
Several years later, we sat in the shadow of Lincoln again and he asked me to marry him. I made him ask three times.
We got married in 2000 and started unwittingly down the desperate path of infertility. The scars cut deep and still linger. Doctors called me infertile after our first three consecutive miscarriages. We consulted the brightest experts from three clinics in two states. The verdict: "Who knows." So we decided to adopt from the Republic of Georgia but midway through the process, Georgians overthrew their government. Good for Georgia. Bad for us.
Surprisingly, we found ourselves pregnant again. More surprisingly, it worked. Our gentle Esme was born four years after we started trying to create a family. Then, after two more miscarriages and more inconclusive tests, I found my way to an acupuncturist in Durham, North Carolina. "You need more bloooood," Dagmar said with a heavy German accent that made her sound like a vampire. She thought my troubles stemmed from a decade of abstaining from meat. Her prescription: bacon, eggs, whole milk, red meat... and lots of it.
Several months later, I was pregnant with TWINS -- Desmond and Josephine. We thought our family was complete. Until we got pregnant AGAIN. Baby Tobias joined us in 2008. His name means "God is good."
I worked seven years as a newspaper reporter before we started our family. My favorite stories were about nutty sorts: a guy dressed as Santa who sat on his John Deere tractor and waved to drivers on a desolate stretch of road; babies racing at the county fair; a young Japanese guy who wanted nothing more than to own an American "muscle car." I left the business after several insufferable years writing about politicians and made a good go at freelance work until the twins came along. I dipped my feet back in the freelance waters a few years after Tobias was born and made another good go of it until cutbacks cut my post.
So now we have the big family we always wanted. God has been good to us, indeed. Our days can be difficult, noisy and terribly intense but they're also delightful and full of wonder. Our children are bookish but active and strange in ways that charm me to pieces.
I recently learned that ages ago, in other worlds, 'Dana' was revered as the goddess of fertility. The irony may have pushed me to drink if someone told me that during our darkest days when a family seemed impossible. Now it just makes me laugh.