In terms of fertility, I have been all over the place. From an unexpected pregnancy only a few months after my wedding to a disappointing miscarriage after our firstborn, followed by years of trying in vain for another child, it’s been a wild ride.
Thanks to the fabulous physicians at Mid Iowa Fertility, I had my second daughter almost five years after her older sister. Then, without any help and certainly with no planning, my son arrived three years later. My husband and I felt that our family was complete.
Enter pediatric cancer. My son became so very sick, and our family went into survival mode. Discussions about permanent birth control were the furthest thing from our minds.
Fast forward to November of last year, when a young student pointed at my belly exclaiming, “You’re going to have a baby!”
Although the remaining baby pooch I still carry years after my three beautiful pregnancies was the likely cause of her confusion, a quick calendar check made it difficult for me to dismiss her accusation entirely.
A trip to Target on the way home from work for a double pack of early pregnancy tests and a rare moment of privacy in our master bathroom revealed that she was, in fact, correct.
I was pregnant.
I AM pregnant.
And my oldest is 12. And my youngest is 4. And I already have three kids. And I work full time. And I just sold all my baby stuff at a garage sale. And I just started getting into better shape.
And…wait, I had another pregnancy test right?
The second pregnancy test revealed the same result.
My husband sat stunned on the couch with his hands between his legs, shaking his head and emitting a bit of nervous laughter after I shared the news.
Because he’s a good-hearted man, he smiled at me and said, “Well at least we make adorable children.”
After a very long discussion about car seats, bedroom assignments, furniture distribution, vehicle preparedness, and some disturbing mathematical realities (my oldest will be a senior in high school when this babe starts kindergarten), we felt exhausted.
Indulging my kids’ every screen-time whim and putting the burden of milk refills and nighttime routines completely on my husband, I allowed myself to attend to my inner dialogue. It went something like this:
“How are you going to manage this?”
“What will your friends think?”
“Wait, aren’t older mothers more likely to have multiples?”
“Oh, and chromosomal disorders as well, right???”
“My goodness, could this family weather another serious medical situation?”
“You are going to gain all your weight back, and then some!”
“My stomach hurts.”
“Oh gosh, probably because I’m pregnant!”
Out of desperation, I texted a few of my besties and spilled the beans embarrassingly early.
To my complete surprise, after the obligatory OMG comments, they were both thrilled! Thrilled, encouraging, supportive, and excited.
I felt so guilty about my stupid inner dialogue. Because, darn it, I know better. I know what it’s like to watch your friends get pregnant and be left wanting. I know what it’s like to enter an infertility clinic with nothing but insufficient insurance coverage and a dream of a pregnancy. And I know what it’s like to watch a pregnancy slip away far too soon.
Yes, I’m having a geriatric pregnancy (actually, they call it advanced maternal age now). Yes, we have no more baby stuff. Yes, I will likely one of the older moms at kindergarten round up, and yes, I might even have another health issue to manage.
But I get to be pregnant – a privilege denied to far too many well-deserving women.
I get to have another chance at savoring the precious moments of babyhood, moments that pediatric cancer ripped away from me with my son. Plus, I get to do it all again with the knowledge and wisdom that comes with age. I get to be excited, if I can turn off my useless doubts and concerns.
But I’m a only human, so it’s not so simple to flip that switch.
I waffle from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.
Filled with joy when I see the grins on my parents’ and parents-in-laws’ faces as they hear the news, overwhelmed when I write the monthly check for my son’s preschool knowing the total will double next year.
Terrified when I go in for the early ultrasound looking for indicators of chromosomal disorders, uncomfortable when I choose to reveal the news to a few precious friends who have never been able to become pregnant, and pretty much extremely exhausted in-between.
My fertility continues to be a wild ride.