I was the Fun Auntie for years. Still am, in my opinion, but I am also a fun, over 40 (43 to be exact) mommy to a 4-year-old boy now too.

Behind that happy-to-be-a-hands-on-aunt exterior was a woman in pain and at war with her body since puberty.

Like a lot of women, I spent my early “fertile” years trying NOT to get pregnant and just assumed I’d be able to get pregnant whenever I was ready. My husband and I started “trying” (ie, I went off birth control after a decade of use) in our late 20s after getting married. 

Almost immediately I started having missed periods but didn’t think too much into it other than my body was still figuring out a hormonal balance without birth control pills regulating it. When I turned 30, I went to see the female OBGYN assigned to me. She dismissed my concerns and said that because I was overweight I was having irregular cycles. I sat in my car sobbing after that visit. She actually said the words “You probably shouldn’t even think about getting pregnant until you lose weight.”. 

I was so traumatized I went another 5 years before discussing the issue with a doctor again, but we had moved to another state and by then my younger brother had 3 children, and I was getting desperate. 

This encounter was a completely different experience and I was finally diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which I should have been all those years ago, and also explained a lot about my health path thus far. 

That time wasted devastated me. We were also referred to a fertility specialist and found out my husband has abnormal sperm morphology. We were told that we had only a 25% chance of conceiving in any “successful” cycle. As distressing as that was, it felt empowering to have answers at least. 

At 36 years old, we made all the appointments to start IVF treatment. I was 1 week away from “egg extraction” day when I took a pregnancy test for what seemed like the millionth time just because that’s what I was used to doing. And there was a positive result for the very 1st time. It’s hard to capture the elation of that day. 

It was short-lived though; at 6 weeks along I had a frantic hospital stay from a gallstone that got stuck in a bile duct resulting in liver and kidney infections. Before they rushed me into emergency gall bladder removal surgery, I will never forget a doctor asking me, “how important is this pregnancy to you?” and crying as I choked out, “it’s everything”. The surgery went well, everyone thought it would all be okay when the pregnancy was still “intact” after anesthesia. In fact, I was recovering really well, but 2 days later I miscarried. And there aren’t adequate words to express the kind of agony of that day.

At the time, my younger sister was about 6 months pregnant with her 1st daughter and we had been foolishly planning on raising our children of roughly the same age together. She might have been even more distraught than I was with the guilt of knowing how much I had longed to be a mother and how easy it had been for her to conceive. I rallied for my sister’s sake, just as I had done for my sister-in-law 3 times before: preparing the baby shower, holding her hand through labor, even temporarily moving in to help her and the new baby in those 1st few weeks. And I loved it as always-my nephews and nieces have been bright lights in my life. 

But every year as I celebrated birthdays and yet another baby shower for yet another cousin, a part of me was dimming.

I had suffered from depression off and on for most of my adult life, but this was another level of hopelessness. I had a wonderful life in so many ways, from a solid career to a solid marriage full of travel and adventure, a close-knit family, and treasured friendships. And that next year we made a move to Washington state that we had been itching to do. But this unfulfilled part of me, this elusive “motherhood” thing ached every day.


Once we were settled, with my sister’s family also relocated nearby, I set a deadline in my mind of when we would try the IVF route again. I just needed another month or so to prepare myself mentally for that physical process. 

And then it was the day after Valentine’s Day and just as I had always done out of habit, I took a routine pregnancy test that magically was positive. Again. I nearly jumped out of my skin. I spent the 1st trimester in a state of simultaneous excitement and terror, afraid it wasn’t going to “stick”. I prayed. I vomited. I walked on figurative eggshells. As I moved into the 2nd trimester, I relaxed, though never fully. I prayed. I still vomited. But I also started to embrace the reality that I was soon to become a mother. In the end, I had an uneventful pregnancy and my baby developed healthily and I started to loosen the grip of loathing I had for my body for the last 25 years.


They induced me the day after my due date because I was a higher risk (geriatric, shudder) pregnant woman and I was in labor for over 40 hours with very little progression before they took me in for a C-section instead. None of that mattered, all of that drain on me just melted away when they held my son up over the curtain and our eyes met. It is the only moment of pure ecstasy I have ever felt in my life, so much relief and joy and love all exploding like stardust inside me.

He is not just a rainbow baby; he is our sky and our moon and our sun.

My husband and I are still trying for a 3rd surprise pregnancy test and to add to our family. But with a whole different outlook and respect for our emotional and mental and even spiritual health during the journey. As midlife parents, we realize now and have gratitude for the wisdom and patience that only comes with aging. 

We can appreciate that we had a whole chapter of our lives to devote just to each other before our son came along. And that we are in a more stable financial situation than when we were a younger married couple and can design exactly the home life we want for our family. Will we remain a happy family of 3? I guess we’ll see. But in other happy endings, my sister got pregnant with her 2nd daughter just 4 months after me and so we’ve been able to raise our children together after all.

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