Princess: The making of the million-dollar baby
The Aspen Princess
So the other day I was walking down Hyman past The Aspen Times when my friend Tim, a longtime newspaper staffer, banged on the window from inside to get my attention.
Tim goes way back. He was part of the original crew, back when I first started writing my column in 2002, back when I was dating the sports editor and hanging out in the editorial offices late night with Chad and Hagan and Stewie and Scoop. Yes, I know it sounds like an episode of Family Guy, but the whole experience did have a cartoonish quality about it. It was a surreal time, a time when weed and whiskey were as commonplace in the newsroom as the dogs drooling on the floor and the stacks of skis leaned up against the wall. It was a time when the night staff would take breaks over beers at the J-Bar and deadlines were pushed to the limit and no one was ever really, truly sober. But the paper always got printed, and it was the best then that it’s ever been.
Once, during the debauchery that was The Aspen Times softball games, one of the newsroom boys smacked Tim in the face with a baseball glove. Dottie, the resident Aspen Times mama bear, totally freaked out and Tim was mad about the incident for years. I only played softball once on account of the fact that I have no depth perception because of my lazy eye and can’t hit or catch to save my life. So I got pretty excited the one time they asked me to run the bases for a girl who had a sprained ankle. I thought, “I can do that. I’m a good sprinter.” I think I even held a record in sixth grade for the 50-yard dash.
When she hit the ball, I took off for first base like my pants were on fire. I’m halfway there, imagining a dramatic dive for the bag, when I feel my hamstring pop like someone snipped it in half with scissors. My attempt at hopping along and pretending I wasn’t in an extraordinary amount of pain were futile. I got tagged at first base, and it was our third out. But that’s what you get for “warming up” by drinking beer after beer after beer on an empty stomach.
Anyhoo, so I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, dressed nicely in a sundress and a fine pair of shoes, feeling kind of glam in my oversized Kate Spade sunglasses, when Tim bangs on the window and makes a gesture with his hands to mock my round belly.
We all know how I have been mistaken for pregnant more times than I care to count. I have suffered through more awkward exchanges than anyone who goes to hot yoga six days a week deserves. Like when the lady at the clothing store says, “Oh, that style is just fabulous when you’re pregnant.” Or some girl at yoga asks, “How is it doing this kind of yoga when you’re pregnant?” Or the bartender in Mexico asks, “Estas embarazada?” and when I shake my head “no,” she deadpans in English, “Ah, one too many cervezas?”
But when Tim called me out in his own little obnoxious way, I knew the jig was up.
This time, finally, after years and years and countless heartbreak and thousands of dollars at the fertility clinic, I finally got what I wished for: I’m 18 weeks pregnant.
I’m having a baby at 45! What a genius plan. By the time my kid graduates high school, I’ll be in my 60s. But if Alec Baldwin can do it, why can’t I?
I wish I could tell you some romantic story, like the girl who went through 17 rounds of in-vitro fertilization and then got pregnant naturally when she least expected it. Or the woman who went through all the necessary steps to adopt and then found out she was pregnant. Or the lady who hired a surrogate and then got pregnant shortly after her surrogate did and ended up with twins who were really just siblings.
People would always say, “As soon as you stop trying, that’s when it happens.”
For me, not so much.
I wish I could say this baby came from a night of passion after one too many tequila shots or on some exotic beach vacation so I could throw around theories about how it’s easier to get knocked up at sea level or when you’re on vacation or when you’re not thinking about it or when you’re super-relaxed.
Nope, nope and nope.
This baby literally took an army of people to create. There were the doctors and the nurses and the embryologists. There was my mother and her checkbook and her once-healthy savings account.
There was my father, who said, “That’s a small price to pay for a human life,” when we doubled down on our bet with in vitro and then doubled down again.
There’s the veritable science project that used my uterus as a laboratory and required all kinds of scary test tubes and needles and invasive procedures and nothing even remotely involving something fun like sex.
It actually blows my mind that people can actually get pregnant for free, the fun way, without even really trying.
That’s so not how it happened for me.
For many women, the story of how they became pregnant becomes one of the hallmarks of their lifetime, like their wedding day or the day their husband proposed. It’s a story they will share again and again and again, a story that will, in many ways, define the rest of their lives.
My story is far from conventional, but I am so happy, beyond overjoyed even, that I finally have a story to tell.
The Princess promises she will never, ever write about what she found in her kid’s diaper or how horrible giving birth is. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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