My breasts are killing me. Is it my imagination, or are they way bigger? And suddenly I can't even look at coffee, much less guzzle it with my usual gusto -- my stomach is a mess. But what else is new? My job is about as stressful as it gets these days, and I have two wonderful but demanding kids: My stomach is upset a lot. Then there's the missing period. Hey, it happened last summer too.
Any other mother of two would know the signs. But not me. After rigorous fertility treatments and two foreign adoptions, I'm in serious denial. Yet deep down I know. I'm 42, and I'm pregnant for the first time.
My husband, John, is out of town, so I suffer in silence for another week. When I finally reveal my suspicion, he literally laughs in my face. Nevertheless, he trudges off to the drugstore to get the test.
The urine has barely hit the stick when the positive sign blazes at me. I'm going to be sick. I'm too old to do this. John announces that we'll be 60 when this kid is graduating high school. I'm about to argue with him, but then I do the math in my head. He's right. This cannot be happening.
The next two weeks go by in a blur of denial and anxiety. The upset stomach has turned into 24-hour nausea, and my husband is really down (he's the primary caregiver and was looking forward to going back to work soon). I finally screw up the courage to see my gynecologist, a lovely, warm Italian woman, who saw me through the infertility treatments. She's ecstatic and can't contain herself: "This is a miracle! Let's drink champagne!"
I sob uncontrollably in her office, feeling guilty that I can't share even a tiny bit of her joy.
At times, I know what my doctor means. Miracle or not, there is a strong sense of fate here. And I don't want to mess with fate. I'm a religious person and believe that God has a plan, and it usually works out if we just ride with it. In rare moments I can imagine this will all be okay, that I'll be able to handle three children and even like it. But most of the time I want to scream, What kind of sick joke is God playing on me? I'm a weary mother of two with a high-pressure job and a house that's falling apart! I can't raise another child.
And what about my two gorgeous, hilarious girls, the lights of my life? Roma, who is 5, is just beginning to understand adoption and has heartbreaking talks with me. They go something like this:
"Mommy, I didn't grow in your belly, did I?"
"No, you didn't, sweetie."
"But I wish I had grown in your belly."
"I wish you had, too."
"How come I didn't grow in your belly?"
"Well, I guess God just didn't want it that way. Sometimes women can't grow babies in their tummies and so they adopt."
What do I tell her now? God changed his mind? (Evidently he did.)
Some mornings I'm so sick I can hardly get out of bed. Standing for any period of time makes me dizzy. I can't eat a thing. Work is crazy-busy and I'm down several staffers, but I drag myself in day after day and put on a good face. Then I'm exhausted when I get home and short-tempered with the kids. Our 2-year-old, Bea, still wakes up several times a night. Whenever I drag myself out of bed to comfort her, I can't help but think how much harder a newborn would be. How will this aging body care for a baby?