I didn’t plan to be an old mom. I got married at twenty-three and wasn’t even sure I wanted kids. That ambivalence toward motherhood stretched through the first several years of my marriage. I didn’t think parenting was for me—I’d never babysat as a teenager or changed a diaper in my life. My husband Jay is in the Navy and his back-to-back deployments meant having a child wasn’t just on the back burner—it was on a burner in someone else’s kitchen. “Someday when we have kids” was a phrase we used often, but it never seemed real. A resolution for a distant new year, maybe.
I knew I could conceive, it happened twice accidentally. I had a miscarriage a few months after we got married, and another time seven years later. While both experiences were physically and emotionally difficult, the second miscarriage was particularly devastating. The unexpected pregnancy had been a shock, but I had just turned thirty, Jay was on shore duty and the timing felt right. My ambivalence was still there, but I embraced the idea of motherhood as a happy accident. But after the second miscarriage, I gave up on the idea of having a kid. If it happened someday, great. If it didn’t… well, I was okay with that, too.
I turned forty in 2007. We had been married for seventeen years and people had long since stopped asking when we were going to have kids. We still said, “Someday when we have kids,” but the articles and statistics about conceiving after thirty-five were concerning. “Someday” was slipping away from me. I was on birth control and it was unlikely we’d have another accidental pregnancy. I needed to commit to the idea if it was ever going to happen. I threw out my birth control pills at the end of 2007 and read up on getting pregnant at my age. The articles scared me. I was worried about my eggs—did I have any left? Were they viable? Were they old, dusty, scrambled? I started charting my basil body temperature and discovered I ovulated like clockwork.
In an ironic twist of fate, Jay left on a deployment in April 2008 when we’d only been trying to conceive for three months. I’d read it could take six months or longer at my age, but now that I was ready to be a mom, I was disappointed it hadn’t happened immediately. I got pregnant in July 2008 when Jay’s ship pulled into port in Florida and I flew down to visit him for the weekend. I just happened to be ovulating and we just happened to have a lot of sex. Boom! I was pregnant at forty-one. It felt miraculous. Sadly, my third pregnancy—the first time I was actively trying to get pregnant—ended as the first two had and I miscarried a few weeks later. It seemed like a very real possibility I would never have a child. I did some soul searching, looking for the ambivalence I had coasted on for almost twenty years, and couldn’t find it. I wanted to have a child.