Exponent II Classics: Me Pregnant? Inconceivable!

I tried to just take excerpts from this piece, but really, it’s so good that you should go to our website to read the whole thing (and enjoy the fancy formatting our webmistress has done for all of our Exponent II Classics!).

Laurie Williams Sowby
American Fork, Utah
Vol. 14, No. 1, 1987

Suffice it to say, it came as a big surprise. We’d had four children in seven years. We had always thought that we’d have more, but after eight years of no babies, we had decided that we had all we were going to get…

Then it happened. On September 8, 1985, my husband Steve was called as the bishop of our ward. (I found out that having a wife who bakes bread isn’t a requirement after all, or could, at least, be overlooked.) It gave me some pleasure to know that the sustaining couldn’t take place for three weeks because of my schedule.

It was between those two weekends that my curiosity was piqued enough to send to the hospital lab for a pregnancy test—the first I’d ever taken; before, I’d always just known that I was pregnant. When the nurse called an hour-and-a-half later with the news that the test was positive, I was so shaken that I could barely get the receiver back onto the phone. I felt at that moment a mixture of joy and shock.

I told Steve that night, and he was elated. We decided that try to keep it a secret until Christmas when I would be four months along…

My initial concern that I wouldn’t feel well enough to keep up with my freelancing writing job proved to be unfounded. I discovered that I could pretty well avoid nausea by keeping something in my stomach.

My body was a different matter. My waistline disappeared in a hurry, and my dresses seemed to be shrinking around the middle. I had to admit that this thirty-six-year-old body was not what it used to be. Sweat pants became my daily uniform. It was becoming more and more apparent that the big announcement could not wait until Christmas. When thirteen-year-old Mike said to me one day, “Mom, you look pregnant!” (he was trying to insult me), that did it. We decided to tell the kids the following week, the night before Thanksgiving.

We weren’t sure how the older boys would take it. After all, they knew the facts of life and might be embarrassed. The younger two were sure to ask questions. We just hoped that they would all be happy about it. The bigger question for me was, how do I tell my mother?
I devised a treasure hunt, and the kids eagerly awaited the start of this “something special” that they had been promised for the evening. “Dad said that it was better than Christmas,” said Kristin, the ten-year-old and out only daughter. The first coded clue sent the kids to the basement storage room, where the next blue was taped to the long-unused high chair. The kids ripped it off without even noticing where it had been placed and then raced to the “B” encyclopedia where they pulled out the next clue without opening the book to the marked page with the Baby entry.

When Craig, our eight-year-old, found the next clue and played the written notes to “Rock-a-bye Baby” on his violin, David’s eyes lit up with the realization, and he began to dance around excitedly. The others still hadn’t caught on, and even a calendar with the May due date circled didn’t help. While David kept his secret, we asked what the others thought all the clues added up to. Mike offered, “You’re going to adopt a baby?” Kristin thought it might have something to do with getting a Cabbage Patch doll for her birthday, which, although in April, is close to May. Craig didn’t have the foggiest idea what this was all about.

When we finally let David tell, there was a scream of delight and the unanimous expression of hope that the baby would be a girl. We looked at the remarkable photos of the development of an embryo and a fetus in A Child Is Born, sharing the wonder of the creation of life….
My parents were another story. I hadn’t seen them for a few weeks, and they hadn’t seen my tummy. We would be having Thanksgiving dinner at the house, and there was no hiding things now. Kristin told Grandma before I could even get my coat off. Both parents were low-key, but by their comments, I got the definite feeling that they were thinking, “Our only college graduate, and you do this?” You have to understand, thought, that my mother had all four children, eleven to fifteen months apart, before she was twenty-four, and by age forty-two, she was a free woman.

She started reminding me that when I was her age I would still have a child at home, to which I replied rather resignedly, “There not a lot I can do about it at this point.” Dad asked, twice, “has your doctor got any special advice for someone your age?” I let the remarks go for the time being, realizing the announcement had hit them cold. But all the hurt came out in buckets of tears the next night, about 2:00 A.M., as I sat alone in the bathroom while Steve and the kids slept…

I still fell ambivalent about this baby. I do love babies, but when people remind me how often they wake at night and how many years more I’ll be in the mothering business, I tell them I don’t want to hear about it. The thought of teaching one more kid to play an instrument is almost too much. But we’ll have four years before we need to start that again. I try not to think about it as a twenty-year commitment, but rather as another chance before I’m a grandmother….

Postscript: I still find it hard to believe that I really did this again.

Rover Bryan Sowby is one week old today, and I am twenty pounds lighter. Our fourth son arrived May 25, 1986, uncomfortably six days overdue but conveniently two hours before his daddy had to speak in ward conference. He weighed a hefty nine pounds—nearly a full pound bigger that we’ve had before. (No wonder I had heartburn!)…

The kids heard their new brother’s first cries, and I heard them exclaim, “It sounds like a girl!” They’d been very insistent about this baby being our much-wanted girl, and I hoped they wouldn’t be disappointed. I was just happy that the delivery had gone normally and that the baby seemed to be quite healthy and robust.

Minutes after his birth, as soon as I was wheeled back to the recovery room, Rob’s brothers and sister held him in their arms. Kristin expressed the sentiments of all four: “I don’t care if he’s not a girl. He’s a baby!” …

Seeing my older children respond to this tiny one has been a great joy already. I will always remember Mike returning to my hospital room after the rest of the family bid Rob and me goodbye in the evening. He kissed the top of his baby brother’s head and sighed, “It’s just too good to be true.”

That says it all.


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I loved this. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. JKS says:

    Definitely fun to read. But is 36 really that old? I haven’t completely decided that I’m done having kids. I thought I had a couple more years to decide. I guess because my mom had kids until 38 I’ve always thought of age 40 as being the “cut-off.”

  3. Taralyn says:

    weird for me to come upon this as this is my mother-in-law and the baby described will be married next month 🙂

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