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Al Roker and his wife desperately wanted to have a baby so they relied on faith and hope to see them through what would be an emotional and spiritual journey.
You've probably noticed—if you start your morning watching me on the Today show—that I don't take up as much of the screen as I used to. Not since I had my stomach stapled. It's a very risky operation that I don't recommend for everyone. But I was willing to take my chances, as much for my family as myself. I want to be around for them as long as I can.
My wife, Deborah—who's a correspondent on 20/20—and I had been married for about a year when we decided to have a child. We already had an adopted daughter, 10-year-old Courtney, from my previous marriage. To me, there is no difference between "natural" and "adopted." My own childhood showed me that when it comes to loving your kids, concepts like that don't apply. I was the oldest of six, and three of my siblings were adopted. Mom and Dad even took in foster children. "There are no limits to how much you can love," Dad always said.
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Dad would do anything for us. He'd get up early and leave our house in Queens to go to work as a New York City bus driver. He put in back-to-back shifts and took odd jobs to provide for us. But to him it wasn't work; it was an expression of his love. And the more kids, the more love.
That's why I wanted to have a child with Deborah. But try as we might—for more than a year—she didn't conceive. "This is taking longer than it should," Deborah's ob/gyn, Dr. Janice Marks, told us. "Let's get you both tested."
The problem was me. I was more relieved than anything else. Now we knew for sure what the trouble was. Besides, as a weatherman I'm used to a certain amount of failure.
Dr. Marks recommended we pay a visit to the New York Fertility Institute for a consultation. Deborah hesitated. "Let's try it on our own just one more time," she said. "If it's meant to be, then God will make it happen."
Dr. Marks pinpointed Deborah's window of ovulation. "Knowing when should help," she told us. But it didn't. Every time I saw one of those commercials showing a happy couple with a positive on their home pregnancy test, I wanted to throw something at the TV.
Three weeks later, Deborah surprised me. "Al, I'm late," she said. I scrambled off to the drugstore for a home pregnancy test. Deborah went into the bathroom the next morning while I paced in the hall outside. Finally she opened the door, a smile on her face and test strip in hand. Two pink lines. "Positive?" I asked. She nodded. Was this really happening?
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I wouldn't let myself get excited. Not yet. We tried another test. That one came back positive too. Oh, man. We're pregnant! We stayed up almost all night talking. What do we do now? Who do we tell and when? What about Courtney, who had ruled the roost for so long? We decided to wait to give her the news, just in case.
I didn't sleep much that night. I got out of bed around 3 a.m.—a little earlier than usual—gave Deborah a peck on the cheek while she slept, then left for Studio 1A at Rockefeller Center. "You're looking mighty chipper, Al," Katie Couric said. "Really?" I answered nonchalantly. Inside, I was ready to burst. I wanted to tell Katie, Matt Lauer, everyone. But I kept quiet and gave the weather report as usual. "Nine months from now," I felt like telling the whole country, "it looks like we're due for a nice, warm baby. And a high probability of an overly sunny dad."
It was good I didn't. A sonogram at two months showed the baby wasn't growing. Its heart rate was way too slow. "I'm sorry," Dr. Marks told us. "I know this is going to hurt, but it doesn't look like the baby will reach term." Deborah miscarried on Labor Day weekend.
"I'd just started to think of myself as a mother," Deborah told me. "And now it's all changed." I squeezed her hand. I knew just what she meant. It wasn't that we weren't parents already. But ever since the day Deborah showed me that test strip, we'd both felt something new at work in our lives. The incredible mystery of God working through us to create a new life. I think we both knew then and there that there was no turning back.
Al Roker is a host and weatherman on NBC's Today show.
To learn more about fertility solutions, visit:
Resolve: The National Infertility Association, (888) 623-0744
American Society for Reproductive Medicine, (205) 978-5000
The American Infertility Association, (888) 917-3777