I am 47 years old. Despite Kelly Preston and John Travolta's recent happy event and their claim that she conceived the old-fashioned way (and indeed, she may have), it is not that common for women of my age to find themselves in the family way without a lot of medical intervention.
Nature is smart: unless you are very rich and can afford a nanny to watch your kid, a maid to clean your house, and a cook to prepare your meals, it's not the wisest thing to have an infant at this age. We pre-AARPers need our sleep. I wear earplugs just so I don't hear the cats whining at 8:00 a.m., demanding to be fed.
I believe that sort of thing is frowned upon when it comes to human babies.
Yet it does happen. Change of life babies are not unheard of. I thought it was unlikely for me given the miscarriage so I hadn't bothered to go back on the pill after the miscarriage.
But a few months ago, I found myself with very bad skin all of a sudden. Not just the mild breakout you get on the forehead from wearing the same hat over and over to shovel snow. Who knew a hat could harbor acne bacteria? But the deep, slow, cystic pimples that take about a month to run their course, not including the fading of the scar, which takes months, and that meanwhile, sit on the forehead or the chin or both in raised, red, not coverable by makeup insolence, drawing attention to themselves so that they are the only thing visible. Neon flashing pimples announcing to the world that they are here! HERE!
What the? Why was I breaking out like that? It had been years since that had happened! I started slathering Clearasil on my face like it was sunblock.
Then I didn't get my period.
Shrug. OK. No period. Big deal. I'm a 23-29 dayer. Used to be a strict 28-dayer but that was in my 20s. I'm getting close to the Big M and these things happen. I thought the extra few days were just menopause sneering at me, spitting in my face and saying, Hahahahahaha! You might exercise and wear sunblock and color your hair, but beneath it all, you are still getting old and your ass is mine!
But then - still no period. Thirty six days and nothing?
"Maybe you're pregnant," Primo suggested.
"No," I answered firmly. "No way. I cannot be pregnant. I do not want to be pregnant."
Still, I was concerned. The formula for pregnant last time was bad skin + late period.
"You could be," Primo reiterated a few days later.
"I better not be," I snapped. I moped around the house, shoveling chocolate into my mouth. I was cranky and brusque.
"Maybe you should take a pregnancy test," he suggested.
"No!" I said.
"But why not?" he asked.
"I don't want to take the stupid test," I told him through gritted teeth. Then I moped some more. And moaned, "I don't want to be pregnant!"
Primo started moping, too.
"What is your problem?" I snapped.
He hesitated. "Is the reason you don't want to be pregnant is that you don't want to have a baby with me?"
"What?! No! No!"
He looked unconvinced.
"I just don't want to never sleep through the night again and I don't want to be putting a kid through college when we're going on Social Security," I told him. "I like our life the way it is. Yeah, it would have been nice to have a baby a few years ago and we would have adjusted, but now? We're just too old."
I also mentioned the bad genetics on his side: his sister was mentally ill and his nephew is retarded. Combine that with old eggs and it's a recipe for a sick baby. A healthy baby would be hard enough, but a sick one would be unthinkable. Who would take care of him once Primo and I were dead?
I convinced Primo that I loved him dearly (easy to do because I do - he is wonderful, lovely, the best thing in my life) but still there was no period.
Day 39, we were getting ready to go out of town. "Don't you want to know one way or another?" he asked.
"No!" I shouted. "I want to be able to hope that I'm not! If I take the test and it's positive, then it's all over. Our lives change completely. I want the possibility that I'm not."
Primo, who is, as you know, an engineer and very logical about almost everything, was baffled by my response. "You know that's crazy, don't you?" he asked.
"Better to cling to that sliver of hope," I told him.
But he prevailed. We went to Walgreen's, my face announcing that we should spend some time in the skin-care aisle, and bought a kit with two tests in it, just in case there was a positive that we wanted to double check. We went home and I drank a diet Dr Pepper, which takes about five minutes to run through me. (Like beer, you don't buy diet soda, you rent it.) I went into the bathroom, closed the door, because we do not pee in front of each other, and did what needed to be done.
Zipped, told Primo to come in. We both watched the stick, fingers crossed.
Oh we were so relieved. Yes, we would have overcome our surprise and shock and would have converted the guest room to a nursery and we would have been happy to do it, not the least because a baby would have been the perfect excuse not to travel to visit Sly and Doris for at least the next five years because who exposes her kid to drunks? Or mean people? and of course they couldn't come here because there wouldn't have been room for them to stay, as Primo and I are no longer willing to sleep in the basement just so they can have our bedroom.
Plus who doesn't like babies? It would have been fun to have a baby. We would have adjusted. We would.
Loved that pink line.
My period finally showed up five days later. I emailed my doctor and asked for a new prescription for the pill. I can't go through that kind of drama again, even if it means I throw away the unused test.