You see, when we were in our fervent premarital stage I vowed – maybe too loudly – that I did NOT want to have children. It was maybe not too strange a thing to say since first, that’s one of the things you should definitely discuss before taking the marriage plunge, and two, I was thirty-nine, closing in on forty, and Tom was forty-three. My logic was simple: I did not enjoy my childhood and was totally messed up. I was scared to do the same to any offspring I might produce.
You know what Tom said? “Me neither. No kids for me!” Because that’s where we were at that time. Falling all over ourselves to agree and please each other. So that was that… for a while. We tied the knot, started making our way in the world as a Mr. and Mrs… Until… I don’t know, a couple of years later when I started to notice babies everywhere I looked. Especially at church. Peeking over their parents’ shoulders, sleeping sweetly in a sling, crawling on the slate floors of the sanctuary, voicing their discontent and being removed to the cry room… And I don’t know if you realize this, but those little guys are CUTE.
I learned just yesterday that what I was experiencing has a name: it’s apparently called “baby lust.” And I did have it bad. So… I sort of hinted around to Tom that maybe having a baby wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, and he hesitantly agreed that, no, it might not be completely horrible. I now know that inside, he was saying “YES!!!” and doing an extended touchdown dance.
So, we decided to see if God was on the side of this crazy semi-reluctant dream… We weren’t exactly TRYING… it was more like we weren’t NOT trying! Of course in the back of my head I acknowledged that as 41-year-old former anorexic, I probably wasn’t very likely to get pregnant at all… so I really wasn’t risking much.* Turns out that, like so many other times in my life, God was of a different mind… and at the close of the very first month, when I peed on the stick… well, there was definitely a plus sign on it.
And Tom went nuts! He bought outdoor paint in primary colors and painted the natural wood play structure and sandbox that came with our house. He ceded the most comfortable TV chair in the house to me every night. He took me to New York City for a last hurrah. He participated in childbirth classes. He designed the nursery. He bought toys…
Of course the toy-buying was nothing new. While Tom is a responsible adult in the ways that count, he is also quite young at heart… and ever since he saw that plus sign, he’s been over the moon.
On May 4, 2004, when the doctor pulled that squirming mess of a baby out of my belly Tom cried. He loved that wriggly mess. He loved Bill as a baby, but was more excited for him to grow into a playmate. And this child has been his fondest friend, his merriest companion, his partner in crime, and his most pressing concern.
I can't begin to understand how God feels in any way about anything, but i feel like as a parent I get a whisper of the why of our creation.... like maybe He made us just to be with us... He loves having us around and teaching us what He knows and having fun with us.
Parenthood is fantastically rewarding, but a hard row. And my man is hoeing it with aplomb, my friends. He makes the tough decisions and is on top of the follow-through. Of course, there’s always something we could be doing better, but… so far so good, right?!
* About half of women over 40 have fertility problems, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Once you pass 40, time is pitiless. You have about a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant in any single ovulation cycle, according to leading fertility specialist Sherman Silber, director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis at St. Luke's Hospital in Missouri and author of four best-selling fertility books, including How to Get Pregnant. At 40 your chance of conceiving within a year of beginning to try is about 40 to 50 percent, compared to a woman in her mid-30s, who has a 75 percent chance. By age 43, a woman's chance of pregnancy plummets to 1 or 2 percent.