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Occasionally Frank will send me a link to an article or website he comes across. I usually find the stuff he sends pretty thought-provoking.
The other day, he sent me a link to a recent CNN article. I read it, and it made me realize that the terrible emotional dilemma I faced after having Alex at nearly 42 might be a more common problem than I thought.
In I G (http://www NULL.cnn NULL.com/2010/LIVING/09/28/rs NULL.one NULL.only/index NULL.html?hpt=Sbin)ave Up My Dream Child, (http://www NULL.cnn NULL.com/2010/LIVING/09/28/rs NULL.one NULL.only/index NULL.html?hpt=Sbin) journalist Rebecca Walker chronicles the thorny path of decision-making about whether to have a second child in her 40’s.
Just read the title—you hardly need to be a brain surgeon to figure out what her ultimate choice was.
Not surprisingly, for Walker, it wasn’t just about age, but money too.
I can buy into that. In our late 40’s, Frank and I are virtually paupered by our children’s private elementary school fees, not to mention de rigeur extras like ice hockey and ballet classes and general lifestyle perks like birthdays at Chuck E Cheese’s.
It’s like running a three ring circus, and just as expensive.
However, Walker ends her piece on a questionable note of yearning, talking to the almost ghost-like presence of the daughter she would never have—who “lives on the other side.”
I recognize it because I’ve been there too. It was an agonizing, emotionally-gutting experience—with many strange twists and turns of outrageous Fortune—that I would never wish to repeat.
Frank and I had determined that we would only ever conceive naturally, or try mild hormonal medications at the most.
When we decided to “settle down” and start a family, Frank had to undergo truly testicle-contracting surgery for varicoceles for us to even have a shot at getting pregnant. Yet, against the odds, I conceived at 41, at least 5 months before they said we could even begin to hope.
I was like Rocky Balboa dancing at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the tune of “Gonna Fly Now.” (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=ioE_O7Lm0I4)
However, the wake-up call, like the bell tolling for any hopes I might have of a future child, came a few years later. I had conceived again at 43, only to suffer spontaneous abortion at 8 weeks.
That’s when it began to dawn on me that Alex might be the only gift the Stork might be delivering in this lifetime. I began to sink into a dark depression, grieving for a child I might never have.
Like Rebecca Walker, I began talking to my daughter on “the other side.”
I couldn’t understand why I was so desperate for a second child. It’s a cross that many over-40 moms, who successfully conceived on the first round, will have to face.
I had many irrational thoughts dancing like pacifiers in my head. They included the pragmatic: there should always be a second child, in case anything happened to the first.
Come on— an heir and a spare? Only ancient European royalty needed to think like that.
In truth, each child is completely unique and irreplaceable, like the Faberge eggs (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Faberg%C3%A9_egg) of human conception, even should you birth an entire nation of them.
Next: I had a boy, now I craved a girl—one for whom I could spend my entire savings at Gymboree. Life could be perfect, if only—like my obstetrician once said—I could have “a full set” (and I don’t mean mammaries).
Another was germane to my fear of aging: what if Frank and I died of old age before Alex’s balls had even dropped or Lizzie was in need of her first training bra? They’d have need of each other.
And this last point was what lay at the heart of the matter. If we died, Alex would be totally on his own, with no one to fight with, or rebel against. He needed a sister or a brother.
After I’d healed from the miscarriage, Frank and I began to try again throughout my 43rd year—and failed. We tried ovulation kits (which the specialist later told us were useless), sex on demand (that began to feel like an x-rated version of Twister (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Twister_%28game%29)), and finally, a scheduled visit to the fertility clinic.
I had just turned 44 before Christmas that year and the trip to the clinic was our Hail Mary play.
In the first week of January, we visited the fertility clinic—only to be laughed out the back door due to Frank’s motility issue and my encroaching old age. Click here for full story.
While I wept on the sidewalk with utter resignation and grief, little did I know that my mischievous little Lizzie had crept in the front door—of my womb. I was already two weeks pregnant.
It just so happened that on New Year’s eve, I wore the pearls Frank had given me for Christmas and—for the first time in over a year—we threw away the ovulation kit and partied like it was 1999 (http://).
When is an over-40 mom too old for two? When she decides she is. Rebecca Walker and I stood at the same crossroads. We departed from it in different directions. I respect her choice and decision.
And we each deal with our outcomes. I’ve heard from many women who have conceived naturally and given birth at 46 and 47.
I believe it’s over when the pregnant lady sings.
Notes for this blog:
Read the miracle story of conceiving Lizzie naturally at 44: http://www.achildafter40.com/wordpress/?p=141
For Celebrating Motherhood After 40 T-shirts for moms and kids, go to:
http://www.achildafter40.com/store/ (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/store/)
Visit the Flower Power Mom main site at:
http://www.achildafter40.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)
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