She Got Pregnant at 42

My friend Nancy Bailey was published in Ladies Home Journal, with this touching article about how she felt when she realized she was — unexpectedly — pregnant:

“DID YOU ALWAYS WANT A BIG FAMILY?

People often ask. The answer is yes — I knew I wanted a lot of children from the moment I married my husband, Jack, at 22. But I was always afraid to say that out loud. There were too many unknowns: What if I couldn’t get pregnant? What if my pregnancies were horrendous? What if my children were horrendous?

It turns out I didn’t have to worry. By the time I was 34 we were a noisy, happy family of eight. We had four girls in a row (now 18, 17, 15, and 13) followed by two boys (11 and 10).

In the summer of 2011 Jack and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe. Leaving the kids with our parents, we spent eight dreamy days traveling from Barcelona to the French Riviera, finishing up in Florence and Rome. Our actual anniversary was the week after we arrived home, so although we were in Tennessee now, not Tuscany, we partied on. Could it be that, amid all the fun, I lost track of the calendar? Calendar, you ask? I’m afraid so. After baby number six, my husband and I could not agree on birth control. Neither of us wanted surgery. The Pill made me crazy. We finally settled on natural family planning, which so far had worked just fine.

Then suddenly it was August. School started again, and with it our usual, frantic routines. Three weeks into the school year, Jack flew to China for a 10-day business trip. And there I was at home, with six busy children in three different schools.

Each stage of childrearing has its unique challenges, but dealing with three teenage daughters was proving the toughest yet. Boys, body issues, peer pressure — these are not matters for the faint of heart. My oldest daughter was battling an eating disorder, my second daughter was figuring out where she belonged, and the third was just trying to adjust to high school. After a calm summer, we all felt overwhelmed with academic and social demands. And with my husband overseas, I was on my own.

I was so stressed out that my period was two weeks late, which meant one more problem to solve, one more appointment to make. I realized that the first question my ob-gyn would ask was, “Are you pregnant?” I mean, come on. I was 42 years old. What was the likelihood? The cause was stress, or maybe perimenopause. Still, I figured I’d better take a home test just to be able to rule it out when the doctor asked.

How times have changed. Instead of pastel lines, there was now a single bold black word: “pregnant.” I’m a mother of six. I knew better than to hope this was a false positive. My first thought was no, followed by No, NO! Then the reality hit me: I’m 42 years old and I’m going to have a baby.

In other words, I’d have a student in high school when I was 60. This child might be closer in age to his nieces and nephews than to his own siblings. I’d be coping with crazy pregnancy hormones at the same time I was coping with crazy teenage hormones. One foot in teenworld and the other in babyworld: How would that work?

Find out how her family reacted — and how she reacted — when her son was finally born here.

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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.


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