“What happens when there is a disconnect between your desire and your reality? When your heart says yes but your body says no?”
This is the very question at the center of Kimberly Gowdy’s highly intimate and emotional memoir, "The Colorless Womb" (Booklogix).
For Gowdy, the joys of motherhood had always been something she desired. The eldest child of her large family, she imagined sharing her life with a husband and children, but after several miscarriages, two of which were late-term, Gowdy believed that becoming a mother wasn’t in God’s plan for her. She was heartbroken and gutted. The one thing she wanted most in this life seemed to be out of reach.
When she and her first husband, Reggie, divorce, Gowdy accepts a new job in Atlanta. The move from North Carolina is a fresh start, and the changes she experiences promise a good life. What Gowdy doesn’t expect to change is her unfulfilled dream, but after her husband-to-be, David, spots a family strolling ahead of them while out on a walk, he leans into Gowdy to muse, “That might be us one day.”
NEW HOPE, OLD WOUNDS AND UNEXPECTED BLESSINGS
With those few words, the bittersweet door of possibility creaks open. Gowdy has “been down this road too many times, and each time ended in loss.” David, on the other hand, has hope in the options still within their grasp. So, they try. They try pregnancy again, a painful process for Gowdy, and they try surrogacy, a process that proves complex and disappointing in ways most readers would not expect.
Just as Gowdy and David are ready to move forward with adoption, the perfect surrogate lands in their laps. However, this woman is not who Gowdy had pictured would carry her child: “The last woman standing in my quest to become a mom didn’t think like me, didn’t live like me, and certainly didn’t look like me. I’m black, she’s white.” Despite their differences, Gowdy knows that “blessings can come in unexpected forms.” So, she trusts in God’s plan.
Her unique surrogate situation raises additional questions both from Gowdy, who worries she won’t be able to feel connected to the pregnancy of a woman so different from herself, and from those around her who don’t fully understand the dynamics at play. Through her experience, Gowdy achieves “a deeper awareness that we are more alike than we are different,” as will her readers.
A JOYFUL END TO THIS HEARTBREAKING JOURNEY
Although the reader knows from the start of this memoir that she will have a son, reading about her journey to motherhood tugs at the heartstrings all the same. Readers will brace themselves for the worst as Gowdy races to seek medical attention for her late-term miscarriages. They’ll hold their breath as she and David search for the perfect surrogate, and they’ll ache when the first few women cannot help Gowdy become a mother. As much sorrow as they feel for Gowdy as she recounts her unsuccessful efforts, they’ll feel ten times as much joy when she holds her son for the first time.
Gowdy’s writing is vulnerable and brave. Her memoir speaks honestly of both unimaginable loss and unfettered joy in a way that only someone who has swum the depths of each well can. Above all, "The Colorless Womb" gives its readers hope that the answer to their deepest desires might appear from the most unlikely source, and it reminds them that who and what a person is runs more than skin-deep.
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