Being part of the Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities cast was a honor. I will always remember these women and their stories. Here is my piece, “The Change-Of-Life Baby”, from the May 7, 2015 show (photos by Glimpses of Soul Photography).
Buying a pregnancy test at age 47 was not in my plans. I was “one and done” 10 years ago. When the young woman stocking shelves at Walgreens noticed me frowning and hovering indecisively in the feminine products aisle, she stepped up to ask if I needed help to find something.
“Where are the tampons?” I asked as she pointed at the enormous array of pink and blue boxes that lined the shelves, not three feet from where I stood. She gave me an odd look before wandering away.
Why couldn’t I say the words “pregnancy test” to someone I didn’t know and would never meet again? Was it fear of judgment, that this 20-something woman would think me too old to have a baby?
The truth was avoidance. I avoided the situation successfully for three weeks.
Travelling for business the first week, I attributed the delay with my period to stress. At work, where I typically manage my projects in an even and organized manner, everything seemed to be out of control and out of focus.
The second week I didn’t feel well, sidelined by a migraine. Memories of my first pregnancy bubbled up. Didn’t I have a migraine right before finding out I was pregnant? I had taken medication for it and we were so worried afterwards about the potential side effects. How would the drug impact the baby, how could I not know that I was pregnant, how else had I screwed up my first pregnancy in only a few short weeks?
Resting in our dark and quiet bedroom that afternoon attempting to stave off the migraine, I spilled the fact that I was two weeks late to my husband Shannon.
“Do you want to have another baby?” he asked, more calmly than I expected given the life-changing possibility. Quickly I reminded him that the doctor said I was perimenopausal, that pregnancy would be a remote possibility at my age and that we had been careful with birth control at the time. He nodded at my torrent of explanation, never circling back to that original question.
By week three, the avoidance was ridiculous. My body felt different, my mind was sharper and I was eating a lot, a lot as in an entire package of Oreos in one sitting. Something was up. My husband, still unruffled about the situation, asked if I had bought a pregnancy test, reminding me that I am my own worst enemy.
Avoidance is second nature to me. I dodge my expense reports at work until it is critical. I refuse to call our neighbors about a fence we are installing on our joint property line. I run from calls with the insurance agent about the front bumper of our recently wrecked car. Small situations become bigger problems because I didn’t deal with them in the moment.
A baby is not a small situation. I bought the pregnancy test, and it sat on the bathroom counter unopened for two days.
Could we handle another baby? There are 60-year-old women having babies today but this was me. I would be 48 by the time this child would be born and 69 before they would graduate from college. I didn’t have the energy to clean my house, let alone clean up after a baby. Not to mention, our first “baby” was now an active 10-year-old boy. How would he feel to have a new baby brother or sister?
A sister. A baby girl. When I closed my eyes, I saw pink and green bedroom walls, covered with sweet painted daisies, and little white dresses with bows. I wondered if I would be skilled enough with a paintbrush to stencil butterflies on a nursery wall. Weird hormonal thoughts for a tomboy like me. Friends and family told me how different it was to have a girl rather than a boy. Would I find out now?
Taking the test and balancing the stick on the white bathroom pedestal, I walked away and washed the dishes in the kitchen sink. The test only takes two minutes but I waited 45.
As I walked back into the bathroom, I could see the result from three feet away. Negative. One pink line, not two. While relieved about the result, I cried. Not just cried but let out these gut wrenching sobs as I sat on the edge of my bed, realizing that there would be no sweet baby girl at this time, no second chance to be a better mother, no soft cheeks to kiss good night in that pink butterfly bedroom.
The pain of losing something that I never had and never knew I wanted subsided slowly, and soon my tears turned selfish.
If I wasn’t pregnant, I was fat and menopausal which was another level of depressing altogether. I guess I could deal with those feelings tomorrow. After all, I am really good at avoidance.