My youngest daughter is 12 today. I am 59 1/2 exactly. I know this because today is May 1, exactly 6 months until my next birthday, November 1, when I will turn 60.
It still does not fail to amaze me that I have a 12 year-old, but especially this 12 year-old, this child I was sure I didn’t want.
At the time I found out I was pregnant I was applying to grad school, literally filling out applications in the physician’s office, just getting a yearly check-up, but feeling a bit tired. We already had five kids. The oldest daughter was 25, trying to get pregnant. The oldest son was in college. One son was high school age, and another junior high. Our youngest daughter, a surprise when I was almost 40, was a third grader.
It was finally my time to go back and get the graduate degree I’d put off for 20 years. Except I was pregnant.
Our oldest daughter wanted to have a baby but was having trouble conceiving. She asked us to pray for her. As I exited the office to the bright, sunlit parking lot, I lifted my eyes heavenward. Great sense of humor, I said. Wrong house.
I was sure I would miscarry. I’d had three miscarriages and had to take progesterone to keep my fourth pregnancy. That baby was born with a major heart defect. Surely, at my age, my body would not be able to hold onto this pregnancy if I didn’t help it.
I decided to tell no one. I felt a bit speechless anyway, an uncommon state. A few days earlier, I told my husband I was tired, didn’t feel well, and was pretty sure I was going into menopause.
You’d better not be pregnant, he said.
I’m not, I replied, but if I were, that would be the wrong thing to say to me.
Driving home, I decided I wouldn’t tell him. I wasn’t sure I could even form the words. He was in the kitchen when I came in.
How’d your appointment go? he asked.
Fine, I said, but I turned away, and even with that small word something in my voice must’ve cracked.
He reached out for my shoulder trying to turn me toward him, to give me a hug. I buried my face in his chest thinking I could hide there, but he reached down and turned my face toward him.
You’re pregnant, aren’t you?
Tears poured out as I nodded.
We’re in this together, he said.
And I let out my breath. Those are the right words.
Twelve years later, I can’t begin to convey the joy this accidental, surprising child has brought to us and her five siblings, grandparents, other family members and friends.
No one in their right mind would probably ever plan a family like this- three daughters spread over three different decades, and three sons thrown in between.