Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Baby at 43, A Baby at 45

The older boys are pining for another baby.

They adore John and Ainsley. Well, to be strictly accurate, Tim adores John and Ainsley. Kolbe adores Ainsley and (mostly) tolerates John. Except when he doesn't. Anyway. They are anxious for another. As we were loading up the van the other morning, Kolbe raised the issue.

"We have to keep up with the Balduccis," he said. "Aunt Rachel has six kids, and she's younger than you!"

I thanked Kolbe for pointing out my advanced maternal age, but mentioned two facts:

1. This is not a competition.

2. Aunt Rachel is younger than I am.

Naturally with kids, older is better; older means more capable. They don't quite grasp that the rules are a little different when it comes to fertility, i.e. older means less capable. I pointed out this article to them. Ainsley really is a rarity. Women don't readily conceive at 44 and 46 and 48.

"Seven in ten thousand women have a baby at 45," I told them. "We just happen to know all seven."

It's true - we do know about seven women who have had babies past 45. Our friend and neighbor had her tenth at 49.

They are sure that I am covetous of Aunt Rachel and her proven ability to be fruitful and multiply. I need to explain to them that yes, indeed, I am covetous of Aunt Rachel, but my jealousy has nothing to do with such weighty matters as bringing forth eternal souls. No, no, my envy stems from two unrelated but well established facts:

1. Her house is less cluttered than mine.

2. Her daughter tolerates hair accessories.

Shallow, I know, very shallow. I avoid covetousness when  more ponderous issues are involved.

As I have shared before, we grappled with secondary infertility followed by a long season of sub-fertility and repeat miscarriage. These experiences helped me come to grips with the fact that this is not a competition. Children are eternal souls not trophies or merit badges. They are not given to the deserving. We need only glance at the newspapers to realize that many, many wretched human beings conceive and bear and mistreat children. Conversely, I need only look through our backyard to see the home of a woman who would  make a better mother than I, but instead bears the lonely cross of infertility.

Children are a gift. Fertility is a gift.

As we exchanged vows fourteen years ago, Dave and I promised to accept children lovingly from God.  We could not have imagined the joys or the trials that we would encounter on what turned out to be a rather strange and winding road.  Through it all, we have attempted to leave the door open for God to move as He wills. We haven't slammed and bolted the door. When it appeared to be closed, we didn't grab a crow bar and start prying.

Someday I might write about the anguish I experienced when my infertility specialists would pelt me with technique after procedure they well knew I would not pursue. We're going to make you a baby, darn it! I miscarried and miscarried and miscarried and in the midst of it all felt I had to justify why I wouldn't use condoms while hormones built up in my system or choose selective termination should fertility drugs work a little too well. When I found myself cramping, anemic, and overwrought in every sense - physically, emotionally, spiritually - I needed comfort, not controversy. Truly it was a walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

I can vividly recall two times when the thought of being pregnant unnerved me to the core. During the agonizing three hours I spent pushing one Timothy Lyle into the world, I distinctly remember thinking that I could not possibly, ever, ever, ever put myself in the same predicament again. Never. It was as lucid and absolute a thought as I have ever had. It was also one I reversed about two minutes after delivery.

I had a similar though not as vehement  thought when Ainsley was about six weeks old, and I felt that I had one nostril barely above water. My thinking was something along the lines of: Bahhhhhhhh! I could get pregnant!

By any measure we are nearing the end of my child-bearing years. I can truly say I am content (except for the fact that my house is cluttered and Ainsley won't wear hair bows).  The door is open. May God move as He wills.


Anonymous said...

This post is so interesting to me and has touched a few chords! I hope you won't mind if I write a longish reply?

I agree completely with what you say about letting God move through us, and also that it is a huge privilege and blessing to be given children. I've had a few miscarriages, and also been through infertility treatment. Like you, my husband and I refused certain treatments. The clinic was completely baffled when we stopped entirely and chose to adopt instead. (Then we had a baby of our own - ! classic)

Although I have certainly railed at God with frustration and grief at times, deep down I've believed that it is a great, great thing that human conception is still something that the medical profession can't really control. I love that there is a profound mystery about what it takes to create a child.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, before I had confirmed this fact via any tests, I was lying in bed one morning and suddenly realised that I was not alone. I knew there was another soul present within my body. This experience was unforgettable and deeply humbling. It was a gift that confirmed my belief that we belong to God, and that our lives aren't limited to the time we are officially alive on this earth. I no longer had any doubt that the soul is the most real part of each of us.

End of 'comment'!

Kelly said...

Christine -

Thanks so much for your eloquent perspective. I have a friend who believes she knew exactly when several of her children were conceived. Your experience is very beautiful.

Motherhood is humbling. It's an awesome gift and responsibility to take part in bringing forth life.

Thanks for writing. I enjoy your visits.

Still snowy in Scotland?

- Kelly

Sandy said...

Absolutely love your honesty here. Thank you for posting.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kelly, I agree with Sandy, I love your honesty. I'm relieved you didn't mind me going on at some length. Your friend's experiences are very interesting. I think there are so many more miraculous and amazing things that happen to people than anyone's really willing to admit to!
Yes, the snow continues. At the moment it is falling out of a seemingly-blue sky. And it's very cold, well below freezing. People complain about the snow, but I think it's Nature's way of reminding us to Stop and Rest and not imagine we actually are in control! I hope you and your family have a great weekend. There's great excitement here as the countdown begins.

Anonymous said...

I only recently found your blog and just today read this older post. I was 47 and had 2 girls, ages 20 and 23, when their brother was born in January, 2010. He is our surprise baby and, though I am Catholic, I am definitely an anomaly in our church. I know of no one of my age who has a baby. I get the horrified looks, the "glad it's you and not me!" comments, and virtually no support from my church community. Too old for the young mothers and too tied down for the older set. I struggle sometimes with where do I fit in? and pray to God for peace with His plan. This baby MUST be here for a reason since the "chances of getting pregnant at 47 are slim to none"! Thank you for sharing that you are of "advanced maternal age" as well. (You look many years younger than what I'm guessing is your actual age.) Because of your honesty, I feel I have a peer, my contemporary, an inspiration and example. I look forward to checking in on you and your family. God bless!

Kelly said...

Anon -

I just saw your comment today. Congrats on your baby! After so many years, that must have been a shock! How did your older children react?

I have definitely found myself hanging out with some moms much younger than I am. We go to the park or trade off childcare.

I love having sisters and friends whose children are older because they flat spoil the babies rotten.

I do have times when people suggest trips or outings that simply can't happen with little ones. My relatives are taking a trip to Israel this summer, but I can't justify being away from the babies for more than a week and I can't imagine spending so much money and only staying a week.

I prayed for a long, long time to be in this exact predicament. I'm now praying for the grace to embrace Now and not wish myself through these years.

I will pray for you to find a good companion or two or three. Thanks you for visiting. God does have a great plan for your late in life blessing.

(I'm almost 47. Thanks for saying I look young!)

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

Great post, Kelly. I know it's an oldie, but definitely a goodie!

Kelly said...

Thanks, Dwija! I've been enjoying your blog!

Anonymous said...

I thought this was really interesting and couldn't help but think of my husband's great-grandmother. She was 53 (53!) when she had the last of her 10 children. And this would have been around 1910 in rural, very poor Ireland. (Certainly no fertility treatment back then!) They lived in what amounts to little more than a stone shack. (We've been to visit it.) The whole thing continues to boggle my mind.

Also, regarding the comment re: finding mom friends of different ages, this is something I've been trying to work on. I'm 34 and most of my mom friends are about my age, or a bit younger. I attended Leila Lawler's (Like Mother, Like Daughter) gathering in DC a few months ago and she made a big point of encouraging women to be open to friends of different ages and stages of life. It's something I hadn't thought of before, but now think is probably pretty solid advice.