One year ago today, after years of trying, my husband Michael and I finally became parents of a beautiful, precious baby girl. A baby was what we wanted more than anything in the whole world, and the agony of not being able to conceive was more than we could bear. It threatened to destroy our marriage. But through perseverance, prayer, and a highly experimental drug developed by a maverick physician named Dr. Shapiro who dared to defy the medical establishment with his radical theories, I became pregnant with the little girl who would become my jewel, my treasure, my everything... little Alexis.
As I enter the nursery of our tastefully appointed split-level ranch to dress Alexis in her brand-new pink satin frock for her first birthday, I finally feel whole. My life has largely been one of hardship: the years of sexual abuse at the hands of my stepfather, the years on the road as a teenage runaway and alcoholic—not to mention the time I was held captive in a mountain cabin by a crazed survivalist. But my sweet, loving, understanding husband and I have worked hard to bring some stability and prosperity into our lives. And at long last, we've finally done just that. For the first time in my life, I feel at peace...
Oh my God! The baby! NOOOOOOOO!
The baby—she's burning up! She's running a high temperature and is going into seizures! I don't understand it. She was perfectly healthy not a half hour ago when I last checked on her! Oh, God, horrible blisters have broken out all over her tiny body! Please, God, no! Please don't call my little girl home! SHE'S ONLY JUST BEGUN TO LIVE! Michael! Call Dr. Shapiro right away!
What? Dr. Shapiro thinks the baby has an extremely rare respiratory ailment that can only be cured with a risky experimental procedure that's killed or crippled nearly two-thirds of its subjects? What are we going to do? There's only one thing we can do—administer the treatment. It's our only hope. No, honey, I've quite made up my mind about this one. If Alexis doesn't get the treatment, she's doomed for sure. This way, she at least has a fighting chance–EVEN IF IT VERY WELL MAY TAKE HER YOUNG LIFE!
Later that day–Parkland Memorial Hospital
Oh, God, thank you, God! Our baby is well again! The treatment worked—her fever has all but disappeared, and Dr. Shapiro says she could be out of the hospital as early as tomorrow. It's an absolute miracle of love! My faith in the goodness of life has been restored. Well, Alexis, I guess we'll be celebrating your birthday, after all. See how your daddy's come from home with your birthday cake and ice cream and presents and... Alexis? ALEXIS!
Oh, my God! Where's the baby? WHERE'S THE BABY?
There's a note pinned to her hospital bed! It's from my Iranian ex-husband! It says he's kidnapped the baby and taken her to Tehran to live with him! That horrible man! He thinks the baby is his, but she's not—she's definitely Michael's! And growing up in a patriarchal, ultra-conservative Islamic society, he thinks he can do these things because he considers all women to be property! Oh, it's more than I can bear! WHY, GOD, WHY?
Six months later—Yerevan, Armenia
Oh, sweet Jesus in Heaven, thank you for reuniting me with my baby! It wouldn't have happened without the aid of Julien, a French heroin smuggler who actually turned out to have a heart of gold! He masterminded an elaborate plan to take Alexis back from my evil ex-husband in Tehran and smuggle her across the rough terrain of the Kurdish region to the safety of the Armenian border! We almost didn't make it: Several of Julien's men were ambushed and killed by bandits, and our caravan nearly plummeted off a narrow mountain road! But now that we've finally reached the American embassy in Yerevan, it's the happiest day of my life!
What? You say you're from the FBI and have traveled all the way from the United States to put me under arrest for CHILD MOLESTATION? This can't be happening! I WOULD NEVER, EVER MOLEST MY BABY! How could I be accused of such an unspeakable crime? You must believe me when I say I am completely innocent! Wait—where are you taking the baby? Give me back my baby! Oh, God, no! Not again! NOOOOOOO!
Four months later—U.S. District Court, Iowa Second District, Des Moines, IA
My personal nightmare has finally come to an end. I have been cleared of all charges. It turns out an insane neighbor, a childless spinster who was sexually obsessed with Michael, framed me, planting a fabricated videotape of me supposedly committing the disgusting act! Thank God it's all over, and I can be reunited with my baby, who's been in foster care throughout my terrible ordeal. And here comes Alexis, who's being carried into the courtroom by Dr. Shapiro! Alexis! It's Mommy! Mommy's back, and she'll never, ever leave you again!
That's funny–she doesn't seem to know her own mommy. And why is she shaking uncontrollably?
Oh, God! Dr. Shapiro has given me the worst news a mother could ever hear: THE BABY IS ADDICTED TO HEROIN! Dr. Shapiro thinks Julien secretly stuffed her little body with bundles of heroin! So that's why Julien helped us—he wanted to use the baby for smuggling drugs! The heroin must have leaked inside her body as we fled Iran, making her hopelessly addicted!
Dear God, how long must this hideous ordeal continue? And don't you realize this is hurting the one person who deserves it the least—THE BABY? Oh, my God, the poor, poor baby! PLEASE GOD, SAVE MY BABY, BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!