On Thanksgiving, 2011, I managed to get myself pregnant. My 47th birthday was just two days earlier.
Oops and... hurray?
We had just closed my favorite play You Can't Take It With You. In true form, we were looking to expand somehow, and had opened a new performing space with YCTIWY and that was lot of work. Figuring out how to light it, get sound to it, build a set in it, get an audience to fill it, etc...was tricky. The process had taken us three years. But once we were done it felt great to know that we could turn Andy's classroom into a real working black box theatre in a matter of hours. YCTIWY was a smashing success. The cast was brilliant....good, hard-working kids with very little concern for themselves and a great concern for each other and the art. I seemed to be in a good place emotionally. I love rising to a challenge. It puts me in a good mood. I felt the familiar winds of change though...but mostly I attributed it to all the exciting changes we were making at the school.
The next day we left for Thanksgiving at home in Utah County. The ONLY way for me to take time off is to go away. Otherwise, I'm too close to work, and I end up driving out there somehow. I don't know how it happens.;-) We did come back on Friday night to have rehearsal for the next show, A Tuna Christmas which we were throwing together as a faculty fundraiser for the school. Andy and our friend Josh Scott were the only two in this one so it was really fun, easy and fun. They ran lines for four hours on the drive home after Thanksgiving. We laughed for four hours. It was good to see those two practicing their craft again. It lifted me.
Tuna was also smash hit. (Future blog) Rehearsals began for the Winter musical "How To Succeed..." No rest for the wicked...er...addicted?
I was not on any kind of birth control. I never thought I could get pregnant without planning, pills, having my ovarian cysts removed (going off Diet Coke)....etc. I just didn't think it was possible unless I controlled every element of it. SIRENS! Embarrassing life theme emerging... I've always thought, that if I was not in control, eventually I would have to reach in, become the controller and save the day. (Who do I think I am?) I guess what I needed to do, was get sooooo busy, that I forgot about the periods, the thermometers, the stress of it all...
It's not that I wanted to be surprised. I don't think i had enough faith left for that. Or did I? I always had that in the back of my mind though. It went something like: "I'll let the Lord decide if I should get pregnant again, ha... ha... ha...but I am not going to do one thing to help out." Such a great attitude. Seven miscarriages will do that to you. I was also 45 and I had seen the statistics. So I left it up to the Lord. The thermometer had been put away after number seven, eighteen months earlier.
I had been to the temple after number seven to discuss my predicament with the Lord. I sat there for hours, in that beautiful final room, full of the very history of the state of Utah...those pioneer families treking across the plains to build this magnificent structure...and sat in a gold velvet chair and wept. I wanted a traditional family of my own so badly. I wanted to give Andy a quirky little dark-haired girl. I wanted to be there when Andy Jr. struggled with his decision to play football or be in a play. Surely he would sing. Surely he would be huge. He would need me to be there when he was making that decision. I wanted to be in the audience watching my own child take a bow someday. Help my own child with her math...er...English. Introduce my own children to Broadway music, Disneyland and Sesame Street. I wanted to have an excuse to stop teaching other people's kids and teach my own.
But instead, I told the Lord that I was officially done. I basically repeated what I told Him seven years earlier just before I kissed Andy "I will wait until the next life and I will adjust my grip and hang on til then." But I also told Him that I needed to give away the guilt of not trying to get pregnant every single month. Of, not saving money for Invitro anymore... of not feeling bitter, heart-breaking pain every time a baby was blessed in church...I was STILL not going to church on Mother's Day, ever again, and He could just know that I still love Him, but I would not submit myself to torture. I believe that torturing oneself IS against some commandment, isn't it? I laid out my new rules for getting by. I needed Him to understand that I was taking a stance and I didn't have the stamina, emotionally or physically to get pregnant one more time. I needed to tell Him I just couldn't feel bad about my broken, old body anymore. I had no self-esteem anymore. I needed to move on for pete's sake. I was starting to appear pathetic, desperate and bitter...to myself! What if other people knew?
But I didn't go on any kind of birth control. It was like, "Shhhhhhh....I'll leave the door open for you, in case you are waiting to make me the topic of Good Morning America one day." Stupid.
Andy questioned the sanity of that, but he had been there every step of the way and putting the calendars and thermometers away seemed a relief to him too. In five years, he never once complained about it, and knowing you were headed to the bedroom to meet a deadline is not the ideal way to spend that kind of time. It messes with your brain because after several years, the nagging truth lies behind the act...that it's useless, and why try? You've got to give that away or it will drive a stake through your intentions for a long time.
A friend of mine, after finding out that Michelle Duggar (19 Kids and Counting, TLC) was about to have her 20th child, said "she needs to remember that her vagina is not a clown car." And I laughed until I cried. But secretly, I want to choke Michelle Duggar. And hug her at the same time. What did she do in the pre-earth life to merit that kind of equipment? I must have been in the "big sturdy feet" line when those good female parts were handed out. I felt that I didn't have time to go on birth control because my body was giving out....was broken...was handicapped... and if the clock was still moving forward, I needed to move too.
Mormons are asked to have big families. You need a body to be resurrected. So the object is to let the Spirits that are waiting to get a body, have one. The other objective is that we build families as the central celetial unit in the grand scheme of things. Birth control is the thing we don't talk much about. But personally, I don't know a Mormon that hasn't used it. My crowd's pretty brazen though. ;-) In my situation, I didn't really need it or want it... I was 41 when Andy and I got married and it was like there was a man standing outside the wedding ceremony with a starter pistol...."GO!" And we did. C'mon...41 years. Still, there is this stigma... this dark, ominous feeling that if you are on the pill, you are prideful and altering God's plan for the Universe. The U.N.I.V.E.R.S.E. I also thought that if I went on some kind of birth control that I was admitting defeat...epic fail...E.P.I.C.
Now don't start up on Mormons and contraception. I won't fight you. I don't know why many things are asked of us... I try to live in the Spirit as I go forward. It might offend people. Get over it. I'm not in any good place to be judging anyone about anything and neither is anyone else.
I've really digressed this time.
Anyway...back to January 14th. Andy was directing "How to Succeed" after school and I thought it was important for him to do this one on his own. (I had planned on swooping in at the end as usual). I was sitting in my office ordering this and that for the show, making a poster, grading papers etc... when I felt that all too familiar feeling that I needed to vomit. I bolted from my desk to the faculty bathroom hoping that I would make it, and thinking, "what did I eat yesterday?" all at the same time.
So much vomiting.
Then we got home from school, rolled into the garage, and the smell of the dogs made me vomit again. That night, taking off my bra was like opening the gates of hell... and that's when I finally clued in and said...
"When was my last period?"
I could not remember. So I made Andy go to Walmart and buy pregnancy tests. I knew that the doctor would not even schedule an appointment without a positive test so we bought one [several]. I've never been able to get a reading on a store-bought pregnancy test. Even with Noah, after 8 weeks, we only got a faint positive line. With the rest, I had to have it confirmed at the doctor's office only to have it unconfirmed 6-8 weeks later. I didn't want to cry wolf again so I was determined to get a positive test before I went. Maybe the Lord knew that I would wait merely to save face, and there were prescriptions I needed to stop taking NOW, or maybe I was six months along and I didn't know it ( I watch too much T.V.!) and that would explain why...
When I took those tests the next morning all three of them lit up in seconds like a neon sign "POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE."
P.A.N.I.C. No!!!!!! Not again. What kind of trick is this?
J.O.Y. Maybe it's the secret miracle...the true intent of our hearts...We were going on Good Morning America!
The combination created a kind of anxiety, a frenzy that I had not felt before and I went to work with our little secret saying....
"*!$@! I'm 47. What's ahead for us? What lies ahead...." And trying to think about anything else was impossible.