I’m not sure what’s going on with my generation of millennial moms, or maybe it’s just my group of friends, but I’ve noticed a spike in parenthood for women in our mid-thirties. Perhaps we’ve just all gone crazy and decided that we no longer like sleep, money, or the freedom to leave the house without having to tote along a giant bag filled with everything your little one could possibly need in life. But whatever the reason, maybe a bunch of us are starting the baby journey again.
My baby brain didn’t just pop out of nowhere. Since I had my daughter five years ago, I have randomly discussed having another child with my husband. However, we were always at a different point in our lives each time I brought it up. First, we had just bought our first home, we were getting settled in with our daughter and son, and things were a bit chaotic. Next, we started potty training. We figured if we decided to add to our family, we would possibly do it when we only had one diaper expense.
More time passed, and suddenly my daughter was no longer in diapers. She was out of daycare, and we could go on vacation anywhere we wanted without packing a nursery for the trip. You’d think I’d be happy with two wonderful kids and finally feel financially stable to enjoy life. And I was, for the most part, but a small piece of me would come up randomly, not monthly. It was more than ovulation. It was an emotional tugging that my children’s smallness was ending. I don’t think I was ready for their independence, but I didn’t have any choice in the matter. Our kids grow up and will always need us differently; however, I still wanted the tiny finger wrapped around my hand, cooing and not back-talking me about something ridiculous.
Throughout the last five years, I had gone back and forth, asking my husband to either get a vasectomy or a baby. He never got the vasectomy, not because of anything to do with his balls but because of the tiny mental breakdowns, I would have throughout the years, especially when one of my friends would get pregnant. He said he’s gone to war but was more terrified of what I would do if he actually took the choice of having a baby. Although I would joke around with the idea of having another baby, I think I only actually said yes, let’s do it once.
We both agreed that if it happened, it would happen. I kind of left it up to God and the universe and said by the time I reached my mid-thirties, he would probably get a vasectomy since we didn’t want to be in our mid-40s with a surprise child. I felt that was a fair compromise, and we actually tried. I wasn’t sure if I was pregnant, but I was late.
I got extremely hopeful and excited. For about a month, I was giddy, thinking there might be a little one living inside me. I’m not sure why I allowed myself to be so happy, thinking it would only take a try to convince. It was probably because it was that easy with my daughter, but I was younger, and things tended to work faster. Well, it turns out I wasn’t pregnant. I sucked up my emotions and stuffed them down deep. My husband asked if I wanted to keep trying, and I told him no. It seemed like it was a message that we were just supposed to have two kids, not three, and I went on with life.
A few months later, I got in a car accident. I ended up with a torn disk and a few herniated discs. To me, it was more of a message saying it was a good thing I wasn’t pregnant. Though it was a low-impact accident, I could have lost the baby if I had been pregnant. I know for certain I wouldn’t have been able to get the imaging I needed to find out how badly I got hurt. I spent months in PT trying to get back to normal. I went back and forth with the idea of expanding past the idea of physical therapy, getting more invasive, and receiving an epidural to help alleviate my pain.
Eventually, January rolled around, and five months after the accident, I was scheduled for the epidural. But what wasn’t showing up was my period. We had one small accident when I just so happened to be ovulating, and I was hopeful again but nervous. I didn’t take a pregnancy test, and I wasn’t going to waste the money when I knew that the facility I was going to would test me anyways. So for two weeks, I played the what-if game in my head. I knew there was a possibility that stress was causing my period to be late. But I didn’t want to be rational. Hope is a powerful drug.
So the morning of my procedure finally came. For some reason, medical facilities were still under the covid rule of no visitors even if you were knocked out and needed someone to drive you home. My husband was told to wait in his truck, get breakfast, or do something at seven in the morning besides in the lobby and wait. We kissed goodbye, and I sat nervously in the lobby by myself. I hate medical anything, and waiting thirty-plus minutes by myself just let my brain think of everything that could go wrong. When I was finally asked back, the nurse asked if I might be pregnant, and I beamed, “Maybe.” She was not thrilled because if I was, I could not go forward with my procedure.
After being fully checked in, she handed me a cup. It now did or die. I was going to find out if I was pregnant or not. I peed in the cup, returned to the hospital bed, and waited. Not too long later, the nurse comes in with a big smile. “Guess what! You aren’t pregnant. We’ll send you off to dreamland in a few minutes, and you’ll be feeling better.” She shut the curtain and left. I texted my husband and said, “I’m not pregnant. You need to get snipped; I can’t handle this emotional roller coaster.”
When we got home, I was a wreck, shoving all my feelings and emotions down deep to where I didn’t have to deal with them. I didn’t realize how bad my hormones were and how bad I was PMSing. My husband made a comment that had been a running joke for the last five years about how the only reason he married me was because he was medicated, which was true. He was going through PTSD therapy, and the VA had him on a cocktail of drugs. Well, after years of joking and never bugging me, it did. I wrote him a note the next morning and left my wedding rings on his desk, saying he didn’t have to stay married to me because the only reason he married me was because he was overly medicated. It was our anniversary, and I was in the middle of a mental breakdown. Instead of talking about any of my feelings hiding, I was running away, partly because hormones do wonderful things to your psyche and partly because I wasn’t even sure why I was freaking out.
I was teaching, and he was working from home. We spent the day texting, and I was also texting with a girlfriend about how I freaked out and was not even sure why I was freaking out. I was not stable, to say the least. I didn’t want to get a divorce. I was now sucking up tears, trying to sort my life out while dealing with the drama of nearly 100 middle school students while trying not to fall apart. Then finally, I sent my friend a text saying, “I felt so alone at the stupid outpatient place. All my hopes and dreams were smashed, I couldn’t call anyone, and I was sitting there feeling like my world had fallen apart when he said he only married me because he was on drugs. I felt that alone again and wanted to leave everything.” She responded with, “Well, did you tell him that?” I answered, “No, I just figured everything out.”
I eventually told him.
When we got home, we talked. Well, not right away because the kids had sports, we had to make dinner, and I didn’t want to fall apart in front of our kids. He asked me why I didn’t tell him I wanted a baby. Why did I keep pretending that I didn’t want one? He said he never got a vasectomy because he was terrified I’d kill him in his sleep or something. After how I acted, I don’t entirely blame him for having that fear. So we decided to really try, not just a one-and-done type thing, leaving it up to fate but actually paying attention to my ovulation cycle.
After the window closed, we ended up going to Orlando for vacation. We had friends from California visiting and thought it was a perfect time to see them. We joined them for a day at Universal, and the next day they were going to Disney, but before we even purchased our tickets for the park, I looked at my husband and said we should get year passes. He said, “We’re trying to have a baby.” I said, “Well, we don’t have that kind of luck to be pregnant right away.” He shook his head as he handed the credit card off to the woman and told me. “I swear to God. You are going to be pregnant because you’ve finally convinced me to buy these stupid things.” So we spent the next day as a family riding roller coasters on a Monday with nearly no one in the park. I was super happy.
The following weekend we ended up getting a kitten. Something my daughter and I have been wanting for years. As we brought the tiny fluff ball into the house, he just looked at me and said, “You’re going to be pregnant, and I’m going to have to clean this little box, aren’t I?” I told him no way. It didn’t take. I feel normal. I feel fine. He looked at me and said, “I don’t believe you.”
For the next month, I had no signs of PMS or pregnancy. At least, that’s what I thought. For the last week, I had left my classroom keys in my door. I was miss placing things and dropping things left and right. I felt like a space cadet and couldn’t figure out why I always felt drunk. Then I was helping my husband cook dinner, and I don’t know what I said or did, but he looked me dead in the eyes and said, “The last time you were this spacey, you were — have you gotten your period yet?” and I said no it’s supposed to show up tomorrow.
We didn’t wait. I sent him to get a test, and thirty minutes later, we discovered baby brain hits a lot harder at 35 than it did at 30.