OUR LIVES CHANGED FOREVER March 15. It was a Friday, and Kenley and I had invited some friends to an Irish bar for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day pint or two.
Little did I know, but I’d already had my last adult beverage for at least nine months.
I’d stopped by the drugstore that evening on the way home from work, and now I was standing in my bathroom staring at a digital message on a plastic stick (and making sure I was reading it correctly.)
I wasn’t nervous. There had been other plastic sticks in the past several months, but I had never seen this message before: “PREGNANT.”
It occurred to me at that moment how some wives plan elaborate celebrations to surprise their husbands with this news — but I didn’t have a lot of time. A few minutes after finding out the news myself, I heard our front door swing open and the familiar sound of our dog Malia’s paws pattering through the apartment.
She and Kenley were back from their walk, and we needed to leave to meet our friends at the bar in 10 minutes.
I guess some things just can’t be planned. I greeted Kenley and unceremoniously handed him the plastic stick I’d been waving around in the air. I told him I wouldn’t be able to participate in a Guinness toast, but that he definitely should raise a celebratory pint. (I might have promised that we could give the baby an Irish name, and I think Kenley just might hold me to it.)
Kenley admits he was pretty bewildered at first; normally the only excitement he and Malia encounter on their walks is when she spots a squirrel.
But after he was able to focus on the word on the stick, he broke into a grin, and gave me a big hug and kiss. And it’s been hard to wipe that proud grin off his face (except when he thinks about how expensive raising a child is going to be.)
Malia had no idea what was going on, but she’ll have to get used to sharing the spotlight soon.
That night at the bar, I ordered a ginger ale. But when people asked, I told them I was drinking a Jameson’s and ginger. I’m not sure anyone was fooled.
It all started back in December when I went to my regular OB-GYN appointment. As she had done the year before, my doctor looked at my chart, noticed my birth date, and asked whether I wanted to have a family. I gulped and said I thought so. Her response: “Let’s make it happen.”
I thought that was kinda funny at the time — I was pretty sure I knew how to make it happen — but it turns out that her directness was just the motivation I needed.
I left her office with the cards and brochures for a fertility doctor, an acupuncturist and a hypnotherapist.
Couldn’t hurt, right?
About a month later, Kenley and I were sitting across from Dr. Kari Sproul at Pacific Fertility Center as she explained the birds and the bees to us in very scientific terms — pictures and diagrams included. She detailed the options available to us if we needed assistance.
Dr. Sproul was very matter-of-fact, and some of the statistics regarding 39-year-olds trying to get pregnant for the first time were pretty disheartening. But she also was very personable and seemed genuinely supportive. We walked away knowing two things: Timing would be everything, but we also potentially were facing a long, stressful and expensive process.
In the following weeks, we did some tests and found no medical reason that we shouldn’t be able to get pregnant, other than my age — which, despite the statistics, I refused to believe was a huge problem. So we put off treatments and committed to “trying” on our own.
As those of you who have found yourselves in this situation know, “scheduling” this kind of thing can prove difficult and exhausting. But Kenley, who suffers from OCD, made sure we stuck to the plan.
I also scheduled my first acupuncture appointment, with Dr. Mindy Boxer. Going to Dr. Boxer’s office is much like going to a spa: There’s a massage table and soothing music. But you’re also getting tiny needles stuck in strategic locations all over your body. It’s surprisingly relaxing.
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress, which is a leading cause of problems with fertility. It also has been reported to boost fertility by restoring balance and encouraging flow of blood and energy through the body.
And all that before we attend our first hypno-birthing class later this month.
Dr. Boxer also urged me to develop better eating habits. I kept a food journal for several weeks, and she circled the foods she didn’t like with a red pen. There was a lot of red. I did make some improvements — cutting back on meat and eating more beans and fruit.
But limiting dairy, carbs and sugar while increasing my intake of green veggies has been more challenging.
Whatever we did, it worked! We were able to get pregnant surprisingly quickly on our own. After we took “the test” at home, Dr. Sproul saw us quickly to confirm the news with blood work — and then several weeks later with photographic evidence. One good thing about getting pregnant when you’re “old” is that doctors are willing to see you quickly, and you get a lot of ultrasounds.
March 27 (six weeks)
April 11 (eight weeks)
May 13 (12 weeks)
How excited are our parents? Do we know the gender? Stay tuned! Answers to those questions and more coming soon!
Many thanks to Justin Shady for taking the portraits of Kenley, Malia, Machete, Buster and me.