Five. That is the number. Five. That’s it. Five percent. What am I talking about? Well, it’s something I’ve known about for quite some time but was a little nervous to share until now. Although my blog is called “Life after religion”, I find myself talking about religion a lot. That’s because, even though I live my life religion-free these days, it is still a huge part of my life’s story. Good and bad, it has shaped who I am today. But this post is not about religion and that’s okay. Even though what I am about to share is not supernatural in any way, it is almost miraculous from a statistical standpoint.. As I stated already, five percent was all the chance I had. There was a 95 percent chance that this wouldn’t come to pass. Anyone guess yet? A few of you may have figured it out.
My wife and I are expecting another child. Now that may or may not be that impressive to some of you, but to me it is. Why? My wife and I are over 40. I will be 43 when this child arrives and my wife will be 42. The odds of conceiving after 40 without some form of medical intervention is about 5% per cycle. Usually, procedures such as IVF are needed. To conceive naturally at this age does happen, but it is not as likely as it is at younger ages. For example, according to http://www.parents.com, in your early 20’s (ages 20-24), your chances of getting pregnant within a year if you try every month is around 96%. Between ages 25-34, it’s around 86%. Between ages 35-39, the number drops to about 78%. Once a woman enters her 40s, approximately 90% of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal, which is why there is such a huge drop in the odds of conceiving. The quality and quantity of a man’s sperm is also compromised at this age. Intervention is usually needed. Of course, it isn’t always necessary, but for many, it is. We were two of the outliers.
There is a test, referred to as non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) that helps to determine the health of a pregnancy. The popular (brand) name of this test is the Panorama test. This test gives prospective parents statistical data regarding their baby to prepare them for the potential risks involved. And, as parents over 40, the risk factor is much greater. Common risks include Down Syndrome and Muscular Dystrophy. The older you are, the higher the risk. This test also reveals the gender to anyone who is interested in knowing. We had this test done as soon as we could and got the results rather quickly. It was great news. We are at the lowest risk for every single thing that was part of that screening. Not only that, we found out we are having another girl. We have 3 boys and a girl already, so number five helps to close the gender gap just a little. We couldn’t have asked for better results.
In case any of you have been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been completely disinterested in writing lately. Reading too, actually. I lost my desire to do things that give me joy and I found myself getting caught up in the day-to-day routine of going through the motions. I’m tired. All the time it seems. Between work and a full house, I’m drained. My passions have fizzled out a bit and I find myself constantly wondering when I’m going to snap out of it. Is it a mid-life crisis? Maybe. Maybe not. It could be that it’s just how life goes sometimes and there is no crisis, just exhaustion. I want so much to be excited to write, share, explore and soak up all that life has to offer. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. I struggle sometimes to keep my focus. I find that some of the things that once gave me joy and excitement, no longer do. I sit and watch the world pass by as I drift into mundanity. I think that’s maybe why the thought of a new chapter in my life at this stage is so exciting rather than daunting.
A family of 6 turning into a family of 7 is not what I expected at this stage of my life if I’m being completely honest. It was a shock at first (although I’m fairly certain of what led to this situation…wink, wink). After the initial shock wore off though, the excitement of what is to come set in and I was reenergized. But there’s a catch. My excitement involves constantly walking on eggshells. All of my hopes and dreams are dampened by the knowledge that anything can happen at any time and we could go right back to being a family of 6. You see, this would be child number 5 for us, but this is not our 5th pregnancy. My wife and I have been pregnant 9 times. We know what loss looks like. We know what loss feels like. We know all too well how quickly joy and excitement can turn into grief and devastation. We once had a holy crutch to lean on, but that ship has sailed. There are no more prayers to utter for us; prayers that do nothing more than calm our minds and temporarily give us comfort and relief from our stress. There is no longer a Jesus to watch over us and protect us. If you re-read what I wrote a few sentences earlier, you’d see that Jesus wasn’t around for our other pregnancies either. If he was, he certainly did not intervene or give us comfort in any way.
We are quite a ways along now. My wife is close to 24 weeks. She is, as with all of her previous pregnancies, diabetic. It is only gestational diabetes and goes away instantly after delivery. It does, however, add to the stress we are already suffering from. It’s constant testing of blood sugar levels. It’s constant insulin injections at mealtimes and bedtime. It also means that the doctors will induce pregnancy a week early to avoid the risk of having a baby that’s too large. We’ve never had that problem, but it’s their protocol.
July 20th. That’s the date we’re expecting to bring this little girl into the world. It’s unbelievably hard to get too excited about it, given our history of loss. I want to, but I can’t. Our first child was lost due to being born prematurely. We are just past how far along we were with her. That was our precious Tiffany, who we lost in 2004 at 22 weeks, 4 days. That was the hardest thing I have been through in my life and that includes losing both of my parents at a young age and my best friend when he was only 20. I want to think we will be okay, but once you’ve experienced loss, you aren’t able to breathe freely until that child is safely delivered and home in your arms. For that, we’ve got about 15 weeks to go.
Anyway, it’s good to get something out. I haven’t written in so long. Sometimes this is all I need to get out of the funk I’m in. Hopefully, I’ll get motivated to share more as the days go on. It’s springtime now and that’s always a huge boost to my mental state. Trapped inside for months during the winter can be awful. Now that the weather is starting to turn around, maybe my mood will as well. Maybe the dark cloud that’s moved in and settled above my head will start to float away and let the sun shine for a bit. Time will tell.