Have you ever woken up and asked someone when did you turn 40?! And have them answer, “3 years ago”. Does this happen to anyone else?! I didn’t mean to get this old, but I guess it’s better than the alternative!
Because first off, I didn’t want to have kids too young. Married at 28, just a baby I thought, and to an exciting man who loved to travel and live life to the fullest, and with both of us being career focused, it just seemed silly to rush into kids. Then because when it seemed just the right time to have baby #1, you know like 33.8 years old on the nose, (cause you think it’s gonna just happen right away) it wasn’t easy, I woke up one day pretty old and still childless.
I had my first bring home baby, sweet son #1 in May 2016, exactly 4 years after my first RE appointment, at 39 years old. I had my second baby, the sweetest little man ever, in October 2018, and celebrated my 42nd birthday the day after he was born. Did I mention he was naturally conceived? Oh the irony.
Where I live, just north of NYC, bordering the Bronx, if we see a young girl with a stroller we assume she is the au pair. I am not an anomaly at all. A very unscientific Facebook poll in a local mom’s group concluded that 37 was the average age for first baby around me.
When pregnant I felt tired. I was never very sick. I felt pregnancy brain and some strains and pains here and there, but ultimately never felt what I imagined it to be. It didn’t hurt that I work from home and can essentially wear pajamas all day if I need.
I don’t have anything to compare to, being pregnant over a certain age vs being pregnant in my 20s, but I spoke to some women in my groups to get their take.
Vic G. had 3 pregnacies, at 28, 31 and 43. At 28, it never crossed her mind that anything could go wrong and she told everyone early on. By her last pregnancy, she held it in till 23 weeks due to a string of 10 miscarriages. I can relate to that so much. After our twin loss, I wouldn’t even use the P word (pregnancy) till we made it to viability. As we age our chances for miscarriage go up and up, and the heartbreak of 10 is unimaginable.
Surprisingly, Vic G. also found her last pregnancy to be the easiest. She was fit and healthy and in better shape than before. But recovery from birth was more of a challenge, easiest she reports, at 31. This makes total sense to me too. I don’t bounce back from cold as well as I used to, let alone hours of labor!
Interestingly, with advanced age sometimes comes a specialist. In my area you must meet a couple of criteria to qualify (though there may be a certain age when you just qualify). The criteria are above 35, used fertility treatments, carrying multiples, diabetic, etc. The specialist, a maternal fetal specialist or perinatologist is essentially the baby’s doctor while they are in your womb.
Having an MFM in addition to an OB is golden. It means more visits, more scans, a bigger team looking out for you. I was thrilled to have the extra set of specialized eyes. Should anything come up that you need to be prepared for, you want an MFM you trust coordinating the care of your baby.
My last point about advanced maternal age is to focus on attitude and appearances. I know I am lucky to be in the community I am where I fit in with the other moms trying to cover our greys and schedule our Botox before daycare pickup, but in many parts of the country, that isn’t the case. Being a mom that is in any way not the norm in your area can be isolating.
Janet spoke to me about her experience. She is in a community of predominantly young families and often feels left out. At a birthday party for a classmate of her 5 year old, she was asked if she was the grandmother then left out of all the small talk. Her advice to others in her shoes is to keep trying. She kept her head up and eventually found her people. Though still 10+ years younger, they get her and make her feel welcome. They bond over playdates and yoga classes and have become a small tribe.
Have you got a story about being an older mom? Please share the good, bad and ugly!