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Bachelor Girl
Hannele Rubin

News Flash:
Bachelor Girl Gets Knocked Up!


Last column, Bachelor Girl went and got married. Now I’ve really gone off the deep end. At 41, I’m seven months pregnant. AND it’s a boy.

I’m told this is the natural progression of things, but I can’t help feeling that, after years of hard work at becoming a well-adjusted spinster, I’ve abandoned single womanhood far too quickly. Perhaps this is signified by my latest recurring anxiety dream:

In the dream, I find myself single again after believing I was married—or at least on my way to matrimony. I feel mistaken, misled, deceived, betrayed. In the dream, I’m left wondering how I can possibly compete in the singles market again, having grown fat and happy in coupledom. I need to lose weight, dye my hair, get a Wonderbra—maybe have plastic surgery. I’m thinking in the dream about reading Pamela Churchill Harriman’s autobiography to learn how to engineer serial marriages to the gazillionaires of the world. If I’m gonna go to all the trouble of transforming my physique, I might as well be a gold-digger. I wake up depressed.

I married for love. I got a great guy who’s gainfully employed (no gazillionaire—but then, I would have married him if he were a waiter), handsome, happy, bright, fun and loving. Dream Man even likes my expanding figure—he says I look like one of those pre-Columbian fertility goddesses some feminists wear on chains around their necks.

He rubs my feet at night and sings lullabies into my belly that seem to calm junior when he’s been stomping on my innards all day. DM reassures me that my belly button can still catch lint (it hasn’t yet completely disappeared) and that my boobs aren’t dragging on the floor (even though I can no longer SEE the floor).

While we’re on the subject of boobs, they’ve taken on a life of their own. In the first three months, getting wired for maternity made them so painful that I felt like I needed a crane to lift them out of bed every morning. (One pregnant girlfriend’s tatas looked like Pamela Anderson’s original plus-size implants. She was thrilled with her new cleavage—‘till her face puffed up in direct proportion.) My boobs didn’t grow appreciably—they just turned to lead, so I dutifully wear a bra 24-hours-a-day in case they decide to seek my knees while I’m sleeping.

I recently asked DM if they were still perky or had become pendulous. "Perky," he said. "You’re a fertility goddess, not a grandfather clock." He has a rare gift for saying the right thing AND making me laugh at the same time.

Pregnancy, however, is no laughing matter. I am not one of those who takes blissfully to the swollen state. I resent having to give up alcohol and sushi and soft cheeses and weightlifting. I hate—HATE—sleeping on my side (and I hardly ever sleep more than five hours in a row anymore). Maternity clothes are scary (took me the longest time to figure out why maternity underpants are bigger in front than in back). Maternity books give me heart palpitations. The idea of labor and childbirth—passing the equivalent of a bowling ball through an opening maybe the diameter of a baseball—REALLY scares me.

So how did this happen? Well, beyond the birds ‘n’ bees, many of my single girlfriends in their late 30s and 40s are struggling with fertility issues. Like many of them, I had been of the (apparently mistaken) impression that I had a good decade before I had to give up on procreation. Even if the old time clock ticked out, I reasoned, reproductive technology meant I could still pop ‘em out into my 50s (though I never did think about whether I’d want to mother an adolescent in my 60s).

Before getting married, DM and I were ambivalent about having kid(s). After getting hitched, we decided maybe it would be a good idea to try and thought we’d give it, like, a year before going for intervention. Then all hell broke loose in the media: we women had been fooled. Our biological time clocks all ticked out in our mid-30s and we 40-somethings had missed the deadline.

I’d promised myself I wouldn’t get stressed or obsessed about reproduction—I’d seen how it can damage relationships and drive you insane. But all of a sudden, I was noticing pregnant women on the street and feeling cheated. Perhaps it was something I really wanted after all, or maybe I was just depressed at the idea that my body wouldn’t function the way I wanted it to. Ambivalence dissolved into mild desperation.

We got a prescription for the fertility drug, Clomid. But before we had a chance to use it, we traveled to Italy where DM had some business. There was a whirlwind drive from Florence south to a medieval mountaintop village called Scanno—not exactly a leisurely tour. In Scanno, we happened to meet a psychoanalyst from Milan who was visiting her nonagenarian mother. She recommended a restaurant and later joined us there. The proprietor got us drunk on Montepulciano and endless refills of dessert wines. The psychoanalyst walked us to our hotel. Before we parted, she said to me, apropos of absolutely nothing: "maybe next time I see you, you’ll be pregnant."

Did she cast a spell or have a premonition? Either way, the pregnancy test two weeks later was positive. We can’t decide whether it was the Montepulciano or the pasta, but I recently met a woman who got pregnant in Italy—at 45 and after several failed fertility treatments. Forget in-vitro—go to Rome!

The first trimester was an emotional roller-coaster; some weeks, I cried almost every night. It might have had something to do with getting less than four hours sleep a night for days on end. When DM tired of trying to reason with me, he stomped off to do the dishes or hunt wild game. Men! Thankfully, I was spared morning sickness (although for a while, the thought of fish made me turn green).

Second trimester, the sleep—and mood—situation improved. My belly started to swell and fat blue veins traced my torso like a topographical map. We went for genetic testing and nervously anticipated the amniocentesis results; junior passed and they sent us home with a photo of his penis. Suddenly, the baby was real—last seen doing a jig on a sonogram. DM and I had a very relieved, happy, tender week.

Third trimester, I’m waddling around like I’ve been riding in a rodeo. Baby’s kicking up a storm, launching somersaults, making waves across my belly. Sometimes it’s a little too much like "Alien" for complete comfort—at any moment, I half expect him to come bursting through my rib cage, take a look around and slither off down the hall…

Even in utero, junior’s incredibly responsive to sound—DM's voice in particular seems to relax him. Often, baby’ll start kicking in the morning when the alarm clock goes off or the phone rings. Now we’re making the rounds of obstetricians, childbirth classes, pediatricians, hospital maternity wards—and trying to figure out how to finance child care, schooling, college. I’ll have to get a ‘real’ job someday, maybe even move to the ‘burbs (horrors)!

I’m told that I’ll quickly forget the pain of labor and birth (pregnancy Alzheimer’s?), that I’ll leave any ambivalence I still feel behind and fall madly in love with the little critter who’s going to make me lose sleep for the next two or more decades. I’ve had this often wonderful—sometimes horrible—delayed adolescence for 20 years, and I’m haunted by the idea that I haven’t made the most of it. If I’d known I was going to wind up happily married and knocked up someday, I might have taken greater advantage of my "freedom." But in the end, things turned out exactly the way I wanted, and I guess we all have to grow up someday. I’m told it’s the natural progression of things.



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