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44 and Pregnant?

We'd be paying for college and preschool at the same time. College and preschool in the same family budget. No wonder tiny surprises at this stage are dubbed change-of-life babies.
09/18/2014 12:48pm ET | Updated November 18, 2014
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I'm late. Not just a little late, but over two weeks late, pushing three. For someone who has always been clockwork regular, I'm really late. I feel a little like I'm in that waiting zone between buying a lottery ticket and the drawing date. You know you're going to lose, but you spend three days dreaming and planning. With my husband having had a vasectomy six years ago, I know I can't be pregnant. I can't, right? Right? But I find myself talking about it, imagining, and thinking, "What if?"

What if I am? My first feelings are filled with the nostalgia of being pregnant and a new mom. I think of the family videos that we love to watch with our two teenagers and our 10-year-old. I long for those pudgy cheeks to kiss, for those adorable little voices learning new words, for those cuddly small bodies. I loved my pregnancies. As a doula, I have a trust and passion for birth, and I savored my nursing days snuggled in with a baby. When I think I might be 44 and pregnant, my immediate gut reaction is happy and gleeful, excited for a possible accident.

Then reality starts to ease into my memories.

Our youngest child is 10 and our oldest nearly 16. We have only eight years until we are empty-nesters. Starting over now? What? That's when I do the math. How old would we be when our new baby was my age? I'd be 89 and my husband would be 92. Agh! We're guaranteeing our baby a shorter life with his parents and that makes me sad. (Hmmm, I just made our baby a boy, I wonder...)

Wavering in and out of what real-life with a newborn would look like, I find myself back to being slightly wishful, thinking how having a baby now would be like being a first-time mom, but easier. I'd be home alone all day while the kids are in school, but I'd be sure of myself and know what I'm doing. It's the perfect mix. I'd have help from our older kids, one will even be driving soon, so that will work out just fine, I think.

But what about health issues? It would be a happy "oops" despite its obvious challenges, but easier if the baby was healthy. At our ages, the odds of a child with special needs or disabilities increases. What then? We'd be older parents with diminishing energy, and a child who needs even more of us. Then there's twins. The possibility of that goes up at my age, too... what if we're pregnant with twins?

There go those retirement plans, along with my aspirations of being a full-time writer, something I'm finally reorganizing my life around now that our kids are older. Which leads me to think about finances, too. We'd be paying for college and preschool at the same time. College and preschool in the same family budget. No wonder tiny surprises at this stage are dubbed change-of-life babies.

You might be thinking, why doesn't she just go get a pregnancy test? Every day that I'm late, I keep expecting that this will be the day. The day my period starts. The day I lose the lottery. Or win it. This is all just normal perimenopausal stuff, I'm sure, well, I'm kind of sure. Like me, my friends are experiencing irregular cycles for the first times in their lives, my midwife has checked things out, and assures me these odd outliers are simply a part of being in my forties.

So I haven't gotten a pregnancy test yet, partly because I'm sure I can't possibly be 44 and pregnant through a time-tested vasectomy. I can't be, can I? And partly because, maybe, I don't really want to know for sure right now. I want another few days to dream of once again being a mother to a baby, a toddler, a little one.