The digital clock next to my bed reads 10:41 a.m. I am sitting on my bed staring at my bathroom door. I am sitting here waiting for three minutes to pass so I can read the pregnancy test that sits perched on my bathroom sink. How in the world can I be pregnant at 45? In fact, I will turn 46 next month.
Yes, I know what causes pregnancy. I already have three sons. I have experienced the joys of pregnancy. I had three uncomplicated births. I had three beautiful, healthy babies. Those babies are now 18, 11 and 6 years old. Not babies anymore. I had stopped taking birth control a few years back when we had tried to have another baby. But nothing had happened. I figured my body was done. How the heck can I be pregnant?
The thought of having another baby just terrifies me. I’m not ready to start from scratch again. Middle of the night feedings and colic. Burpy rags and diaper changes. I have sold or donated all my baby stuff. The crib, the strollers, the car seats are all gone. We certainly don’t have the money for another baby. Diapers and formula cost a fortune. I was just trying to get back into the workforce now that our youngest was in first grade. We are just making it financially as it is.
I stare again at the clock and then back to the bathroom door. More importantly what about my age? 46 is way too old to be pregnant. When women are over 40 there is such a huge possibility that there will be something wrong with the baby. Can my husband and I handle a special needs child? At our age? What about our other children? Is it fair to them to bring a sibling into our family who will most likely require all of our attention and all of our resources?
Will one of our sons have to take over the responsibility for this child if we should die? Can we put that burden on our boys? An image of being in the grocery store and seeing an elderly couple who have with them their adult child with special needs flashes into my brain. A grown child with Downs Syndrome that is dependent on them forever. Can I picture my husband and I in that role 20 years from now? Am I truly able to devote the rest of my life to this child?
I feel so sad all of a sudden. Then, I stare out the window and see kids riding their bikes past my house. Another thought enters my head. Babies are supposed to be a blessing. They bring happiness and joy. There are so many couples who would give anything for a baby. I am reminded that some older women have perfectly normal babies. So I take stock. Yes, I may be 45 going on 46, but I am also a pretty healthy person. I am not overweight. I don’t smoke. I’m not big on exercise, but I think running after my three boys keeps me moving most of the time. My husband is healthy. Maybe our odds are good. Maybe we could have a perfectly healthy baby?
I glance at the clock again. Almost time. Imagine having a baby to hold and cuddle again. My two older boys never want me to hug them. My 6-year-old will let me only once in a while. How nice would it be to really hold a baby in my arms again? And then a new realization hits me. What if we actually have a girl this time? We had our third son when we were trying for a girl, but what if it worked this time. People have told me that they had girls when they weren’t trying to get pregnant. Well, we certainly weren’t trying that’s for sure. How different would my life be with a daughter? Some pink in this house of blue. Barbie dolls and tea parties instead of dump trucks and basketballs.
I am picturing little dresses and Mary Janes. Fixing someone’s hair with little clips and bows. Someone who loves to go clothes shopping with me. Someone to take my side when we pick the movie for Family Movie Night. A little girl would be so exciting. What would I name her? All my boys’ names start with the letter T. Do I like any T girl’s names? Yes, there are a few I like. What should her middle name be? Hmmm.
I glance over at the clock. It’s time. I have a knot in my stomach. I get up off the bed slowly. Now I’m not sure what I want the result to be. I walk toward the bathroom. I see the test stick on the counter. Slowly I pick it up. The words say NOT PREGNANT. I sigh. I’m not pregnant. I casually toss the test stick into the garbage can.
As I’m leaving the bathroom I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I spy a twinge of sadness in my face. No baby girl for me. And then I see the look of relief. Maybe my life is perfect just the way it is.