As I hugged my team of nurses good-bye at the fertility clinic, I felt
free, victorious. At age forty, after four rounds of intrauterine
insemination and two rounds of in vitro fertilization, I was
pregnant with twins and “carrying them well.” Next stop, the normal
prenatal world of whole-fat ice cream, happy OB appointments, and
car-seat research. Key word: normal.
So it was a bit of a buzzkill to be told a month later that I needed to see a high-risk specialist. But of course: I was a) of advanced maternal age and b) carrying multiples. In the waiting room back at the clinic, I felt apprehensive and self-conscious. Sitting there, knowing I fit the high-risk profile in certain ways, I knew I was not out of danger myself.
“I’m not here to celebrate your pregnancy. You’re not the highest risk, but you’re at some risk,” Judith Rossiter explained. Rossiter was the silver-haired, sixty-something top-doc in the practice, hyper-knowledgeable and BS-free.
As much as I respected Dr. R, I was relieved to see the other two OBs in her practice, chatty brunette women who looked to be about my age and who turned out to be Nikki Koklanaris ’94 and Alice Cootauco ’96. Early on, we put together that we’d all graduated from Brown, but it took us a few appointments to figure out the almost too-cute timeline of our consecutive graduations. “Yes! We’re the dream team,” Dr. C announced. High energy and petite, when not in scrubs Dr. C usually dressed in bright fabrics and kitten heels.
Dr. K, on the other hand, was understated. She added a likeable, self-deprecating humor to the exam room. “I’m very neurotic,” Dr. K told me after I’d started iron supplements to treat a minor deficiency, “so I want you to get checked for anemia a second time.”
“I’m very neurotic too,” I said, as if it were another charming coincidence.
But as much as I enjoyed forming a friendship with my fellow Brunonians, I didn’t exactly feel “normal” around them. I couldn’t help comparing myself. A year younger than I, Dr. C had two school-age kids. She’d wisely gotten pregnant before she hit AMA (advanced maternal age). Meanwhile, I turned forty-one under her care and felt myself more drained of energy by the week.
I asked myself again why I’d waited so late to become a mother. My
husband, Michael, a cancer survivor, had been injured by his radiation
treatment, and his resulting lack of sperm meant we’d had to find a
donor. Heartbroken, I procrastinated. I told myself to finish my novel
I have a long history as a late bloomer. After a false start at Emory, I’d transferred to Brown. I married the perfect guy, but late. It took four revisions of my novel before I found an agent for my book, Truth OR Beauty (the agent is Alice Tasman ’89, another Brunonian connection). True, I took a long time to make up my mind, but waiting hadn’t hurt me yet. Would it now?
The answer came on June 23 at 1 p.m., when the Dream Team, all three of us, headed into the operating room for my C-section. When Tex and Miner arrived without any complications, I got the normal birth I always wanted.
Now, of course, there are new things to worry about: Does anybody know if Brown offers a two-for-one deal?
Betsy Boyd is a fiction writer and journalist who teaches writing at the University of Baltimore.
Illustration by Miguel Gallardo.