Over 45 and pregnant? Oh, what have I done?
I was sitting in the doctor’s office. Waiting for the results of the pregnancy test.
Did you catch it … my most recent race entry put me in the 45-49 year-old bracket.
I pee more on my hand than in the cup. How did I end up here? The nurse practitioner assures me that I’m healthy, sexually active (although Jim would question if active means frequent) and I’m still “regular.”
“It can still happen, so let’s just make sure, okay Chris?”
My mom gave up on having children in her late thirties. My brother and I were born in her 42nd and 43rd years.
Seriously, the first time in years that we didn’t use protection and this happens. I must admit, it was one of those nights that we said, “WOW! Why don’t we do this more often!!??” That’s why I remember the exact date.
I can hear the nurse and assistant laughing outside the room.
When I add up the circumstantial evidence a few days before, laying on the couch, so nauseous I think I’ll pass out, I feel sick at heart. I imagine the next several months filled by high-risk pregnancy appointments. Fear would obliterate me; there is just no way it would end well.
I imagine going to Safeway and getting a pregnancy test from my personal pharmacist. I’d blurt out, “Ah, it’s for my daughter.” But he knows I don’t have a daughter.
One moment I convince myself it can’t be possible and the next I’m in full fledge freak out. Not able to handle this by myself, I go out to the garage and tell Jim my suspicion.
Then he pales.
Gotta love him; the rest of the day he teases me about my “condition.”
Later that night he tells me all he could think about was “how are we going to pull this off?”
Why would something I once coveted with my whole being and denied with such heartbreak, happen fifteen years after the fact and way too late?
When I lay in bed that night, I revert to my Catholic childhood God, the one that has control over my destiny, the one that decided children wasn’t in the plan because somehow I was a sinner.
Yes, it’s true, my evolved “I’m not religious but spiritual” made-up, feel good spirituality takes a back seat to the scarier and more powerful Catholic God when I face real crisis.
And I ask, “Why now and not then?”
In the two days before this appointment, I have imagined the real bullies and gunmen in school; I’m not sure how to be a loving parent and not a policeman; I’m terrified of predators, of evil, of kids today being exposed to ugly things through technology. I’m afraid I’ll have to raise this child alone as Jim will die early, like my dad. I’m not looking at this as a gift; I’m looking at parenthood as something I don’t want at this stage of my life.
It occurs to me that I could be dying or something considerably better like going through peri-menopause. I set up an appointment at my doctors, hoping it is a weird flu that is making me so sick and tired and delaying my never delayed period.
Through this, friends ask me, “well, what would you do?” Do? There is no option. We would move forward, knowing that it would be a high-risk pregnancy that would probably abort itself because of my age or if it didn’t, the fetus might be unhealthy. Because of everything we have gone through, we both know it is the right path.
But what I realize more than anything, is how fortunate I am to have a choice in the matter.
If I were alone, didn’t have Jim, was sick, homeless or dependent in other ways, my choice might be different. But I live in a country where I still have that choice. I live in a country where my intelligence is respected.
The nurse and her assistant come back into the room. I say, “I could hear you laughing outside” and she’s embarrassed. She says they were discussing another patient my age that came in for the same reason and got the biggest shock of her life – she was pregnant.
“But, you’re not Chris.”
Funny, later, my closest gal pals all ask me if I am just a little disappointed.
And I can honestly say, that I’m not. I’m so friggin’ relieved.
Later I find out while I was getting my pregnancy test, a good friend who is 40 is celebrating that she’s finally pregnant. I do my happy-dance around my kitchen when I hear her news. I cry for her. I’m joyful for both of us.
Funny how things work out.