I met my pediatrician husband four years ago on an Internet dating site. He liked my profile, but he said that he was really hoping to have more children. He was 50 and I was a 49-year-old mother of three grown children -- not to mention that I'd already become a grandmother! I thought a new baby wasn't likely to happen, so, longing to be just a few years younger, I wished him luck. Months later, though, he e-mailed again, imploring me to give him another chance. The issue of children, he said, we would leave to God.
We dated long-distance for six months, before we married in 2010 and I moved from New York to Michigan to be with him. Three years later, God has given us an answer: Today I am 53 years old and pregnant with twins.
A year into our marriage, I consulted with a doctor who told me it could happen, because I was "young for my age." For my husband and me -- both divorced, and with six children between us, ranging in age from 16 to 27 -- the option to reinvent was intriguing. And with our collective physical, emotional and intellectual resources, we felt more competent than ever to be parents. For us, hindsight has yielded a better handle on how early childhood experiences and consistent parenting might influence development later in life. Plus, this time we'd have each other.
It didn't take very long for us to learn a new acronym: BFP (Big Fat Positive) on our pregnancy test. Soon after, I had an ultrasound. "There's the heartbeat!" the tech pointed out, corroborating what I already knew. "And there's the other one."
"Other one?" I asked, stunned.
"You didn't know you were having twins?" she asked me.
"No." My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were visiting and I knew if I went home, I wouldn't be able to contain the news. I wanted my husband to be the first to know, so I ran to his office, darting between patients. Closing the door to his office, I showed him the ultrasound pictures marked TWIN A and TWIN B. His jaw dropped. "Are you sure?" I nodded. He was scared, but delighted.
Having twins propelled me from what had been a moderately high-risk pregnancy, because of my age, into a definitely high-risk pregnancy, because carrying twins can be difficult. The doctor visits are more frequent and the tests are thorough, but so far there have been no complications. The good news is that I have enough ultrasound images of these children to fill an album!
As it became obvious that my "middle-age spread" was turning into a bump, we began to leak the news. Reactions were mixed, especially among our children. One child laughed until she cried, then laughed again and cried some more. Another felt angry and rejected. One child seemed eager to teach our babies ice hockey and lacrosse. My oldest son, a lawyer, was concerned about how we would provide for the babies in case something happened to us. I assured him that we had plans in place -- and even asked him to be part of those plans. My 3-year-old grandson just wanted to know when his uncles or aunts would be ready for a playdate.
Eventually, we began to tell our friends. Most friends our age are marrying off their children, enjoying their grandchildren, and talking about retiring to warmer places. As they downsize, we are upsizing, buying cribs and changing tables, setting up a nursery, car seats, and bouncy chairs -- all in duplicate. Even though it may be odd for some of the grandmothers -- as well as some of the girls my daughter-in-law's age -- to get used to treating us as new parents, their excitement matches ours.
The home I so carefully decorated with doodads, knick-knacks and glass tables is about to radically change to accommodate babies, then toddlers and (yikes) teenagers. We are thinking about schools and I am begging advice from women barely older than my own children about breast pumps and local resources. As I run back and forth to New York to check on my frail and aging parents, I pray that I will be able to effectively care for them as I jump back on the mommy track. Life has become a weave of interesting challenges.
When the doctor first told me I'm younger than my age, I thought he was being funny. I had all the aches and pains of a middle-aged woman trying to keep up with life as it flew by. But, weirdly, this transition has made me feel younger and stronger -- even as I enter this late stage of pregnancy. It could be the rush of hormones surging through my system, or the eagerness to once again nurse and nurture newborn babies. Perhaps it's the excitement of having twins. Or maybe it's just the novel anticipation of starting over with someone that I'm committed to and love so much, and the wonder of learning that reinvention is possible at every stage of life.
Update: On February 15, 2013, Judith gave birth to twin boys!
Judith S. Lederman is the author of The Ups & Downs of Raising a Bipolar Child and Joining the Thin Club.
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