I did not want to be a 40 year old bride.
I’d known my husband strictly as a friend for over a decade. When I first met him, he wasn’t marriage material. I’d already passed my 35th birthday when my guy moved from the friend zone to the “possible husband” zone. I hoped that he would choose me for his wife while I was still in my 30s, while there was still a chance for bearing children, but that didn’t work out. When he did pop the question on my 40th birthday, we wed as soon as the Roman Catholic Church would let us.
As part of our marriage prep classes offered by the Archdiocese of Washington, there was a session with a nun to discuss Natural Family Planning. We learned some things about female fertility that my then-fiancee, a Presbyterian, was willing to try. It also helped that a friend of ours, a late in life mom, gave us information and books about tracking one’s fertility. So after a year or so of having my husband measure my temperature every morning, I was able to get pregnant. Once.
Once and only once. I got to be pregnant for the first time in my life at the age of 41. However, that didn’t last long. About 6-7 weeks into the pregnancy I started bleeding. My cousin was staying with me while my husband was out of town and she was able to be with me when I went to the doctor to check things out. There was a sonogram showing a little bean of life with a tiny little heartbeat as the doctor tried to figure out what was going on. My husband had returned by the time I began cramping so hard it was impossible to ignore, my supervisor at work escorted me to the doctor and my husband met me there. On this second visit, our little bean was gone. No heartbeat, no sign of life. I’d experienced a miscarriage.
Once my body recovered, we tried again, but we never were able to get pregnant again. A few years later I experienced some health problems that made pregnancy more and more unlikely. I knew my chances for pregnancy were getting worse and worse as each month passed only to be greeted with a period. Whenever I found a story about a 40+ year old mom getting pregnant, it was more than likely not her first child.
I expressed my frustration to a friend one day and she snapped back, “At least you were able to get pregnant.” She married a much older man when she was in her really late 30s or early 40s. She had really wanted to be a mom. She and her husband adopted and were attempting to adopt a second child via the foster to adopt program. Her statement made me realize how lucky I was to even get pregnant, and so I chose to treasure that brief spark of life I held in me instead of being bitter about what I lost.
My husband continued with the early morning temperature measurements until we got the call about a special little boy and told the agency yes, we wanted to be his parents. As the years passed, we determined adoption was our most likely path to parenthood. All other options were off the table due to a variety of factors such as costs, probability and philosophy. When I really thought about what was involved with what my husband would have to do to test and provide his genetic material, I found it, disagreeable. As a practicing Catholic, IVF wasn’t an option either, and it wasn’t covered by our health insurance even if I chose to ignore Catholic teachings. The money in our savings would have been much better used to bringing a child in need of a home to ours.
Accepting Aging Out
I accepted that time was not on my side. While I was in my early-mid 30’s my OB-GYN warned that my fertility window was closing fast. As a single woman at the time, my thought was, “What am I supposed to do about that?” By the time Mr. Okay had developed into Mr. Right, that window was almost securely shut. There are many risks with pregnancy as an older woman. Risks for the baby and mother. After years of really trying, and a year or so of dealing with my own health challenges, we decided adoption was our best option to build a family. Neither of us was particularly hung up on the idea of passing along our genetic material and neither of us was getting any younger.
We are very happy with our choice to choose adoption. We have a beautiful little boy who is way too good looking to be related to either one us. Part of me wishes we had started the adoption process earlier.