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.
Jay came home from deployment at the end of the year and even though I was willing to try again, I couldn’t bring myself to get my hopes up. We talked about going to Venice for Jay’s birthday in April 2009. “If I don’t get pregnant, we’ll go,” I said. I needed something to look forward to that wasn’t related to have a child. As if a trip could take the place becoming a mother.
We never made it to Venice because I got pregnant again in March 2009. I asked my ob/gyn about taking a progesterone supplement—I’d read that it’s often prescribed for women over thirty-five. He agreed it was worth a try. I don’t know if the progesterone helped or if it was just my time, but in December 2009, I gave birth to our son Patrick. Jay was deployed to Dubai for my last trimester and the first five months of Patrick’s life, but he was home for the birth and two weeks after, which wasn’t enough time to prepare me for solo parenting—the forty-two year old woman who had never changed a diaper before becoming a mother. Somehow, Patrick and I survived the months alone and I fell head first into motherhood. Patrick was a miracle. Everyone, including my ob/gyn, said so. But our family didn’t feel complete yet. I couldn't give away the baby clothes and I didn’t go back on birth control—we opted for condoms when Jay came home from deployment in May 2010.
I talked about trying for a second “someday,” but the clock was ticking loudly and I knew the odds were against me. My ambivalence returned. I wasn’t content with the idea of having only one child, but the possibility of disappointment was so high I couldn’t commit to trying again. The decision was resolved for me when I got pregnant the first time we had unprotected sex. I remember saying, “It’ll be fine just this once. No way I’ll pregnant.” Boy, was I wrong. Patrick was exactly one year and one week old and it was too soon, in my mind. I’d only just figured out how to be a mother to one! But there I was, pregnant with a toddler.
It took months before I could let myself be happy. I kept waiting for the inevitable blood and loss. No way could we get that lucky a second time. But we did. Lucas was born in September 2011. In less than two years, we went from a being a couple married for twenty years to a family of four. Lightning had struck twice. It was magic, it was madness, it was motherhood, my way. I’m forty-seven now. Patrick is five and Lucas is three and I hardly remember all the years I said, “Someday when we have kids.” Someday is here. And Venice will wait.