Tick tock, tick tock: My biological clock is running out of time

Little Son's second Christmas. God I miss feetie pajamas!
My beautiful baby girl, just a few hours after her birth.

My beautiful baby girl, just a few hours after her birth.

One of the things that I love the most about my husband is that he lets me have my way on almost everything. Truly, it’s one of his very best qualities if I do say so myself. A dream car. Got it. Two bad little dogs. Got them, too. A pink dining room, you say? Yep, he was totally onboard.

But, now, 16 years into this thing called married life, we have reached an impasse.

I want another baby. He said he did not. Emphatically. Well, what he really said, as he literally ran from the room, was, “you’re trying to (insert profanity here) kill me.”

As if! If I killed him, who would get up with said baby every three hours in the middle of the night? If he wasn’t around, who would tote the ridiculously cumbersome baby carrier and diaper bag? Who would go to the store at rush hour to get formula? Not me, that’s for sure. I am totally keeping him around!

My point to him was that we are already half dead. Our children are 6 and 8 so we’re still not sleeping that much! And we make such smart and pretty babies, y’all. Don’t we owe it to the world to have just one more? This time, I swear I will get it right. I will write down the first words, record the first steps. I will relish nursing, I won’t worry about germs so much. I will treasure every warm, sticky, messy, golden moment of it instead of rushing toward that next milestone.

Because I just love babies, all sweet smiles and dimples and wispy hair. The way they smell … so intoxicating. Though now that I think about it, I did not exactly love the first few months after Bodacious was born, my post-partum depression and exhaustion were out of control. But, I choose to gloss over that little fact and plod on!

Since we had our last … discussion … The Hubs has started to smile and swoon over every baby we see in public. He always wants to make sure I have seen the baby, too, and I am beginning to suspect his resolve is weakening. Meanwhile, I get this message from my girlfriend Sporty Spice. In her most serious no-nonsense voice. “Melanie. We are calling to stage an intervention, when can we come over to talk to you about the FACT THAT YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND!” Subtle my best friends are not. “We are TOO OLD to have babies.”

Sigh. And ouch. I have been lying about my real age for so long that I have almost convinced myself that I really am only 38. I have not wanted to admit that at 43, I am probably too old to have more children. Not biologically, but more from a responsible-use-of-my-womb kind of way. The Hubs and I just got a late start on the whole happily ever after thing, I didn’t mean for my body to be wonky in my early 30’s. And then into my mid 30’s. And now, just when I feel like my life is perfect and my body is in good shape, it’s too late. It just doesn’t feel too late, you know?

But the phone message got me to thinking. If, and it’s a big if, I got pregnant this month, I would be almost 45 when I gave birth. Gulp. My baby would be qualifying for a driver’s license about the same time I am qualifying for Medicare. And let’s face it. With the way Medicare and Social Security are going, I will need baby No. 3’s college fund for prescriptions!

The statistics aren’t all that uplifting, either. When I had my children at 36 and then 38, I was already considered of “advanced maternal age.” After 40, I was considered of “very advanced maternal age” and my risks are exponentially higher for things going awry. According to an article on FitPregnancy.com, as women age, the likelihood of having medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes increases, as does the risk of potential pregnancy complications such as spontaneous abortion, ectopic pregnancy, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, stillbirth and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome. On the less-terrifying side, getting pregnant again at this stage of the game also seems impractical. My children are almost self-sufficient these days! Little Son can make his own cereal and lunch. He will be able to ride his bike or walk to school next year. On his own! And, I have given all the baby furniture, toys and clothes away. It would be crazy to start all over again, right? But still. I just don’t feel … done.

And why don’t I feel done? Why can’t I be happy with what I’ve got? I beat the advanced maternal age odds twice already, and I have a boy and a girl. They are perfect in every way, and they’re really excited about a new sibling, too! I told them, perhaps a little unfairly, that their dad was refusing. Like, if he won’t tell me yes, maybe his kids could apply pressure of their own.

“Did you tell him we’ll help?” Little Son asked. “We’ll feed it and take it for walks, and I’m almost old enough to babysit!” I had to laugh, because he sounded so much like the kids on every sitcom trying to talk their folks into getting them a new dog.

Last night, The Hubs suggested that maybe a new puppy wasn’t such a bad idea. We had to let our dog Marley go just before Christmas, and I suspect he thinks having something else to tote about that won’t require orthodontia is a good compromise.

But I’m not ready, I still miss my big, soft dog. And if I am going to be cleaning up after something that doesn’t know how to use a potty seat, it’s going to be a toddler!

And so, this game of hide and watch continues. The Hubs, hiding from me. While I watch the time on my biological clock run out.

I’ve got game! Forcing children to succeed takes effort

Nailed it. Little Son earned his first stripe tonight at jiu-jitsu!

by Melanie Nicholas

Nailed it. Little Son earned his first stripe tonight at jiu-jitsu!

Nailed it. Little Son earned his first stripe tonight at jiu-jitsu!

It is hard to raise active kids when you’re not an active parent. But I am trying. We have done ballet, soccer, swimming and now, martial arts. I am committed to dabbling in any sport they show the remotest interest in. I want them to find that activity that will energize them, help them develop discipline and a sense of confidence in their bodies and in their achievements.

The Hubs loves to be outside and he thrives on competition. He signed up for one of those mud races last year and then ran his first half marathon in November, both sans training. And he did very well in each! I dabbled in sports growing up, taking dance, playing soccer, doing cheer and I even had a brief flirtation with tennis. But, in truth, none of them was as fun to me as reading and I just didn’t pursue them with much fervor. Well, that and I am not much of a team player, either. And, I don’t like to be uncomfortable. I hate to sweat, sunburn, bruise. I also don’t enjoy things that make me feel vulnerable or incompetent.

We had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for New Years and everything was going along swimmingly. Well, that is, until The Hubs pulled out the board game Curses. I know, I know. You are already thinking I would be an excellent player in a game developed for potty mouths. But, it’s not that kind of cursing. The game gives each player a challenge card to complete, such as run around a table clapping, and then a curse card to hand out. Now the curses can be anything from speaking into an invisible CB radio, to talking like Scooby Doo or even shouting out pizza toppings every time someone claps. The curse cards layer upon the players so that they are doing strings of ridiculous things throughout the game. I drew a challenge card that instructed me to demonstrate how I would transform into a werewolf during a full moon. Now, I watch a lot of science fiction. A lot. And I know what it looks like to transform into a lycanthrope – and it ain’t pretty. It’s all pain, stretching, reshaping snarling and somehow, people’s clothes always come off! And imagining myself, re-enacting that transformation made me feel embarrassed and shy. Heart palpitation uncomfortable. And I am pretty sure I said something akin to, “I hate this game.” So I hemmed and hawed, thinking someone would give me a pass. Nope. Wrong hyper-competitive crowd for that. So, blushing furiously, I looked at the moon and howled. And while I did not die from the experience, I feel like I came pretty darn close.

The kids have their martial arts class twice a week. Little Son has moved up into the 8-and-older class, and this was his first week to practice with his new teammates. Things were “off” from the get-go. I hadn’t sewn his new patch on. His electronic enrollment card wouldn’t register. His lips felt chapped. He had a growing pain in his left leg. He wanted to go home. Being a non-athlete, I was not sure how to handle the situation. I explained to him that I couldn’t see well enough to thread the darn needle. I tried for an hour. That hole is tiny! I then tried to scan his card, rub his leg and give him some lip gloss. He wasn’t having it. Finally, I resorted to telling him to “suck it up, buttercup.” He got on the mats, finished the first warm-up drill, then walked off the floor trying to hold back the tears.

“I want to go home. I don’t know how to do any of this,” he whispered in my ear. “That’s why we take classes Son, to learn how,” I reasoned with him. I felt so much empathy for my first-born, red-faced and unsure of himself, anxiety creeping up on him and threatening to smother him. And I wanted to give him a pass, like the one I wanted so badly during the board game.

But I know enough about being afraid to live up to your potential that I just could not give him one. So, we compromised. He sat next to me and watched the entire class. We dissected the moves, studied the patterns. And as he watched the other students, he realized that several of them were new to the class as well.

I secretly love that I can’t really make my son do anything he doesn’t want to do. I hope that when someone offers him his first beer or cigarette, he holds fast. But I still want to find ways to encourage him to explore his own talents and strengths, build his confidence. So this weekend, I will tell him about my challenge card, and I will ask him to watch me practice morphing into a werewolf. Even if it kills me to do it. In turn, I will ask him to practice his Kimura wrist lock. On his dad.