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Launching my blog in 2009

On the day of my fortieth birthday—single, childless, and with few viable relationship prospects—I began the long, dark journey into grieving for lost motherhood.

It was not what I had chosen for myself. It had never occurred to me that I might become an older mother. In fact, I’d married at the politically correct age of twenty-six, in a small Catholic church on the bank of the River Thames, in England, back in the late 1980’s.

Two years later, my then husband informed me he did not want children for the foreseeable future. Exit stage left: to a painful divorce that consumed three more precious childbearing years.

Then, there was the de rigueur emotional recovery time after divorce, during which I launched the first national support organization in the UK for divorcing couples in the early 1990’s. Before then, divorcing Brits had surreptitiously cried into their gin and tonics at night, and then presented the world with a stiff upper lip at daybreak.

What Happened To Mr. Right?

Becoming a mother after 40 was not something I’d bargained for. I had relationships in the intervening years, but for reasons I couldn’t identify, the Ideal Partner, or the Good Father, were nebulous concepts that never found a reality. Childlessness was not my intention. But it seemed to be my fate. Why? It would be years before I could begin to answer that question.

Two weeks after my fortieth birthday, an event second only to the Immaculate Conception occurred: as if on cue, my second husband walked through the door with two roses in his hand and the promise of a new life. We immediately got down to the business of parenthood and I conceived naturally and gave birth at age 41 and again at 44.

Are Older Mothers Are “Selfish”?

My hero, Susan Sarandon, mom at 42 and 45!

Until then, I had been blissfully ignorant of the fast-rising number of women having children after forty over the last decade, along with the growing storm of controversy surrounding what is now acknowledged to be an unprecedented historical phenomenon.

However, media coverage, since the turn of the millennium, has depicted women as intentionally “delaying” motherhood, and as selfishly putting their careers first. Women having children later, or “mature mothers”, were painted with the faint, unsavory brushstroke of moral deficiency. They were, after all, mothers of advanced maternal age.

Why Are Mothers Over 40 Are On The Rise?

Me and my miracle kids

Yet, the truth is, that the rising trend of mothers over 40 is the result of cultural forces far greater than the self- interested intentions of a few aging women. It is driven by a juggernaut of combined social changes that have their roots in the 1960’s.  From women’s liberation, economic changes in the workplace, and tantalizing advancements in reproductive science—to the rise in the median age for first marriages, combined with a 50% divorce rate for first-timers—we are headed towards deep-seated changes in the face of the nuclear family.

And there’s an old saying: “There’s no point in closing the barn door after the horse has bolted!” Ergo, the trend toward delayed motherhood is here to stay. Just knowing this might have been enough for me. But it was soon followed by a life-changing, watershed moment in personal history.

Don’t Call Me Grandma!

"My grandma!" he laughed.

One day, when I was 47, my 5-year-old son turned to me and said: “Hey, Mama, guess what you’re going to be when I grow up?”

Intrigued, I asked him: “What will I be when you grow up?”

“My grandma!” he laughed uproariously.

Suddenly, it all made sense. I had been labeled “high risk” and “advanced maternal age” by a fearful medical profession, openly vilified as “selfish” and “irresponsible” by a media and public disinterested in digging more than skin deep, and socially isolated by my maternal peer group because I was an “older” mother.

Join The Later Motherhood Revolution

Me and kids in Washington Times, 2011

On that day, in 2008, I became an advocate and educator for the women who had found motherhood later, and for those to come.

I’ve been blogging on being an older mom since 2009 at FlowerPowerMom.com (http://www NULL.FlowerPowerMom NULL.com), a site widely recognized for being the voice for mothers over 40, in the USA, Canada and abroad. I’ve been blessed with tremendous media support and an opportunity to spread the word via CNN (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=atScMih4_d0&feature=plcp), PBS, along with radio and newspapers across the country.

Now, more than 3 years on, I’ve begun to realize that we are on the cusp of the next generation of mothers over 40. It’s time to re-birth the website and and leave “Flower Power” behind. We’ve re-launched as:  A CHILD AFTER 40–For Women on The Journey of Later Motherhood (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) at http://www.AChildAfter40.com. A Child After 40 offers online discussion forums, free tip sheets and online magazine, and a new blog format aiming to help you along the way!

Join me in the later motherhood revolution!

Notes for this blog:

Twitter: @achildafter40

10 Responses to Why Have A Child After 40?

  1. Sharyl says:

    I didn’t CHOOSE to be an older mother either. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be a mother at all. I have two sisters with fertility issues, and I never found the right guy. Add to that, I was extremely overweight, I had kissed by baby years GOODBYE.
    Then, at 43, I had gastric bypass, and within the year I found my Mr. Right. We got engaged and six months later, I found out I was pregnant…….at 45 years old. What a miracle, and what a blessing. My baby is now 11 months old, and I am 47. I wouldn’t change this situation for ANYTHING in the world.
    I am truly blessed.

    **Sharyl.

  2. Lisa Williams says:

    I doubt that many of us who become older moms consciously INTEND to be as old as we are when we have our first child.

    I waited until I was 35 to start trying to conceive since my mother had drummed into my head, “Don’t do what I did. Don’t become a mother. Be Somebody. Have a career instead.”

    While I take issue with her assumption that a woman without a career is not “somebody,” I did see how her financial dependence on my Dad kept her captive to his whims and also that he didn’t respect her or treat her well. (Rightly, she felt trapped in her marriage) so I vowed to live my life differently— to achieve a career BEFORE I had children, and also, to choose a spouse who would first and foremost, be kind.

    I chose my spouse at the tender age of 21, during my last semester in college, though we didn’t marry until I was 26 and he was 27. (I knew that he would be my husband on our first date because he was incredibly kind and listened well and patiently, even though I was very shy.) We moved to Los Angeles from New York after graduation because he wanted to pursue a career in the film business. At the age of 30 I decided to pursue a career in the film and television as well after my career in publishing had hit a dead end. I began working freelance as an assistant editor in film and TV and was fortunate to work steadily.

    At the age of 35, while working on some high profile TV shows, I started trying to conceive naturally, and managed to do so after a year only to discover that there was no h/b on the first ultrasound. I was so unaware of fertility and age issues, that when the nurse informed me there was no h/b I replied, “That’s o.k. I can see it next time.” She got the doctor who informed me that there would be no next time. “No heart beat” meant it was over.

    While I reeled in shock she gruffly informed me that I ought to have expected this since “One in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage and you’re over 35 so the odds of miscarriage go up.” Of course, this speech made me feel even worse about the loss because I felt like it was my FAULT.

    I went on to do over a year of increasingly invasive fertility treatments that failed to work (IUIs and 2 attempts at IVF with my own eggs) and none worked though I did end up getting pregnant again naturally twice — at age 38 and 41, (when I was on break from fertility treatments, ironically) and each time I had two good u/s with h/b before a third ultrasound revealed that the pregnancy had ended. With the last loss I was beside myself. All the doctors claimed such losses were due to my age and egg quality (which baffled me since women in my family had a history of having healthy, naturally conceived pregnancies even into their early 40s.) In fact the doctors said such early pregnancy losses are”always due to genetic defects.” The fertility doctor told me that my only hope was to do donor egg IVF (DE IVF). After the last loss (at age 41)

    I believed him and moved on to looking for an egg donor full time and even went on birth control pills to avoid another natural conception. (If you’d asked me in my twenties, if I would one day consider conceiving with the help of an egg donor I would have told you, “No” but obviously, I would have been wrong.)

    I found an egg donor agency with whom I could negotiate a “free rematch until live birth” agreement since I had heard of other women who put down hefty sums on an agency fee only to have a donor drop out or a donor cycle fail and then have the agency prove unable to rematch them. Lucky I did that since our first attempt at DE had to be cancelled when the first donor, a woman we’d met and loved, had a grandmother diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and I didn’t find out about it until the day before her egg retrieval. When I got in touch with the geneticist and the RE both told me to cancel, so I did.

    I then moved on to another RE and a 2nd donor who I interviewed over the phone. Unfortunately, this donor (who had never donated before) didn’t stimulate well enough for our RE’s approval so at his advice we cancelled the cycle prior to retrieval. Donor #3 (prior, proven, having made a live birth via donation before) gave us the egg that became the single hatching blastocyst (five day old embryo) that we transferred into my uterus and who became my beloved daughter. (We transferred only ONE embryo to avoid the odds of twins which are a much higher risk pregnancy and very common with women who do DE to conceive.)

    While pregnant I injected lovenox, a blood thinner, daily, since at the advice of a friend, I’d consulted a reproductive immunologist who’d recommended testing for placental function and immunological issues. After I came up positive for APA (antiphospholipid antibodies) with elevated NK (natural killer cell) count, the RE in whose care I’d lost the last two pregnancies suggested that this meant that if I conceived again I should inject lovenox, a blood thinner, daily while pregnant to prevent microclots from forming (caused by the APA) and to suppress my immune system (the “NK Count”) I should take low dose prednisone, orally during the first trimester.

    So with my pregnancy finally achieved at age 44, I did both. I had a blissful, easy pregnancy during which I exercised regularly and ate right, gaining only the expected amount of weight and taking it otherwise easy since I’d been laid off by my very demanding job early on in the pregnancy, and then two days after ceasing lovenox at my OB’s instructions (one week before the medically necessary scheduled C-Section) I came down with the most severe form of HELLP Syndrome (an extreme form of eclampsia) that gave me a stroke which put me in a month long coma and ruptured my liver. When my liver ruptured, the doctors told my husband to accept the fact that I was going to die. He told them, “That is not an option.” Though I didn’t die, I did remain in a coma for a month hooked up to a respirator, ventilator and a feeding tube and I did go through $11,000 of blood transfusions over two days and end up hospitalized for six months, completely missing out on living with and taking care of that little baby I’d worked so hard to have.

    Had I known what I was in for I would never have decided to carry a pregnancy, so I’m glad I didn’t know that I was a candidate for HELLP. However, I DO wish that I’d stuck with the more experienced OB at the larger hospital as it’s entirely possible he would have been able to spot the warning signs before HELLP hit. Though I probably shouldn’t say this, I’m also glad I didn’t know that I couldn’t safely carry a pregnancy since carrying my daughter was one of the happiest times of my life. We bonded ahead of time. Though she didn’t hear my voice until she was two months old (since I could not speak prior to that) when I finally did speak I’m told she recognized my voice, turning to look for me no matter how far away from me she was in the hospital room, no matter whose arms held her. She knew her mother’s voice from hearing it all those months in utero (I had spoken to her, telling her how happy I was to be carrying her and how eagerly I was looking forward to meeting her.)

    That said, is being an older mom difficult? Undoubtedly. However, I have excellent support (a nanny who helps us out during the day) and a husband who is a GREAT parent when he is home (though that isn’t often as he works long hours.)

    Kudos to anyone who manages to conceive naturally in their forties. Though it is definitely not as common (statistics support the fact that female fertility plummets at the age of 35) it IS possible and good for those for whom this happens.

  3. Angel LaLiberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    SHARYL:
    Congratulations on your baby! Pregnant at 45 after having given up is such a lovely story! If you’d like to tell your story for A Child After 40 followers and members, I’d love to write it for you. :)
    LISA:
    Thank you for sharing such a compelling story! You know, I identify with the negative experiences you had with fertility and healthcare providers–I’m sure many of us do. During both of my pregnancies at 41 and 44, I had the daylights scared out of me regarding genetic risks to the fetus, being labeled “advanced maternal age”, or being told it was likely I’d have a high risk pregnancy at my age.
    The truth is, I did have gestational diabetes, but it was managed with diet and then with meds in the 3rd trimester. No problems.
    What I don’t see the need for is fear or a sense of failure.
    I wish they’d handled you more sensitively.
    I wonder about the elevated NK cells–did you ever read this blog about serial miscarriages? Wrote it back in 2010. Is it a possible explanation for your experiences?: http://achildafter40.com/the-new-father-of-fertility/
    Glad you got to be a happy mom in the end! :)

  4. Stacey (http://www NULL.staceywald NULL.com) says:

    Angel,

    Thank you so much for your inspiring story! In fact, your story is VERY much like my own. Although I have not yet become a mother. I’m 45 and finally married (second marriage) after many years of not choosing to be single and not choosing to be childless. We are currently pursuing a pregnancy with IVF and donor egg. I know many more fabulous ladies in their 30s & 40s who are still looking for mr. right and wanting children. It’s good to know that we are not alone. Bless you for writing this blog and reaching out to all of us “later” mothers!

  5. Caroline Carson says:

    It is irritating when the assumption is made that anyone is an older mother by choice; I know lots of older mothers and none of them ‘chose’ that situation, although I guess it could be argued that some of their choices led to those circumstances, such as staying in a relationship with someone who didn’t want to be a father, believing he would change his mind. But not exactly the career driven, ‘I haven’t got time to have kids’ situation!

    I have had a pretty positive experience as an older mother. I didn’t get together with my husband until i was 39. We had been friends for quite a time before that, so I knew he really wanted kids. I had never been pregnant so didn’t know if I could have them, but he was prepared to accept that risk. We were very lucky as I got pregnant very easily as soon as we started trying. The first two pregnancies ended in miscarriage which was very hard, particularly the second one. But then I fell pregant again immediately after the 2nd miscarriage and had my daughter at the age of 42. Her brother was born 2.5 years later, I was 6 weeks shy of my 45th birthday (but again had 2 miscarriages in between). Both babies were born in Australia and i honestly felt i wasn’t treated any differently from any other mother. I also feel I have as much, if not more, energy than mothers of similar aged kids who are 10 years younger than me, although i totally appreciate that is not the case for everyone. My husband and i are both now 48, the children are nearly 6 and 3 and if I could I would have more, but have accepted we are incredibly lucky to have the two beautiful healthy children that we have.

    For me, I feel I really appreciate being a mother in a way i maybe wouldn’t have if I had had my kids at an earlier age. I was very career oriented and would have felt more torn between my priorites I think; but by the time I had my children I had reached a place in my career where I realised that the corporate world was not always a great place and that I needed to manage my own priorities within it, not allow organisations to set mine! That has really helped as i have wanted to be at home with the children, that is changing as they get older but I have loved this time with them.

    I find it really interesting to hear everyone’s stories as older mothers in whatever form that takes, but wanted to briefly tell my story to show that not everyone has a bad experience and I hope more people have one like mine. Best of luck to all those who are trying to become an older mother and to all those who already are.

  6. Angel LaLiberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    STACEY:
    After years of working on this initiative, I can assure that, not only are older moms becoming increasingly common, but that very few of us “choose” to be single, or without children, in our 30’s. I can remember that anxiety over this issue began when I was 36, and I’m sure that stood in the way of the natural course of beginning and having relationships. Motherhood, especially in my late 30’s, was always at the back of my mind and I found it heard to relax.
    Congratulations on having found the “right” man! :) Sending you big blessings for getting pregnant in your 40’s and enjoying being a mom at last!

    CAROLINE:
    I really appreciate that you took the time to share such a positive experience. I’ve heard that in Italy also expectant moms of “advanced maternal age”, are treated no differently than younger moms. I think that, in North America, there’s a tremendous amount of angst surrounding pregnancy over 40. Looking back, the one thing I regret is that I was not “allowed”–or left in peace long enough–to enjoy being pregnant.
    As to age, I’m 51 and my kids are 10 and 7. If I could give a gem of advice, it would be: make fitness a priority. It’s one of the consideration of being an older parent!

  7. Lylas says:

    Looking forward to all the new features and ideas on the updated website! Thanks Angel for keeping us up to date with all the current news and trends for new moms over 40 (and 50). There are times its frustrating being the only over 40 or over 50 pregnant or new mom, its good to know that there are plenty of women that subscribe to this website that think its a great time to be a mom.

  8. Sandra Garrish (http://www NULL.abovethetrees NULL.ca) says:

    At the age of 41 my son had just graduated high school. I was in a dating relationship and was using birth control. Six weeks before my 42nd birthday my Dr announced I was pregnant. Oh my!!! Alot went through my mind, as I obviously didn’t have thoughts of having a baby if I was using precautions. I had a good job, a home, and my son, so did I really need a new baby. I do believe in pro-choice, but I thought how could I be so blessed and even consider not doing this. The pregnancy was not a cake walk, but it was for the most part fine. The birth was a cake walk and I can only attribute that to a friend who accompanied me to the hospital and performed thereaputic touch on me throughout labour and delivery and post surgery. Okay..I know..sounds..a little quirky but I can tell you this, I had NO PAIN and went home the next day after the surgical removal of a 8lb 9 oz baby. My daughter has been a major blessing in my life due to all that she has taught me. The understanding, the compassion, and the love we share is incredible. I feel sad that my son was not able to see me in this light, but the truth is..you truly come into your own in your fourties and without all the other worries and stresses, it is easier to be a good mom, or that has atleast been my experience. The major hurdle for me this late in life was that I was not quite prepared to have a baby and raise her on my own. Her father had some mental health issues which forced our seperation but he was permitted supervised contact. It is amazing what a two and a half year old knows and feels. My heart broke when she asked me “mommy is my daddy ever coming back”. At this point I searched for a book to explain the absence of a parent, and truly was dumbfounded that there was very…very few,,in fact I only found one on Amazon and it was outdated and out of stock. Without a writing background I decided I would write a story for her and in fact asked her what she wanted me to write about and she said a g-waffe. What happened after that was nothing sort of divine intervention.. a prayer and a pen and the story was created. It is a beautiful metaphor that honours all non-traditional families. It is about a baby giraffe who’s Dad gets lost in the jungle and never returns. The giraffe through out the story questions her mother if her daddy is ever coming back, and her mother reassures her with this beautiful verse: ” I will always love you and protect you, and as you grow you’ll see, that I was chosen for you and you were chosen for me, and even though your daddy is lost we are still a family”. As the giraffe grows it is only when she is tall enough to see above the trees, she see’s there has always been many different kinds of families (some with one mom, one dad, grandma’s ,aunts and sisters and even grand dad’s, and each jungle family looked as right as right could be,there even was a giraffe, foster family). When the baby giraffe is all grown up, she is able to explain to her mother “that she knows it was hard to see the jungle for the tree’s, but now that I am old enough this you can believe..that I was chosen for you..and you were chosen for me..and even though we are only two..we are the perfect family. My daughter is only seven and is so proud of her story. This book has healed us both, after all what kind of parent leaves a child never to return. A Lost One, so this was such a healing methaphor for me as well. Hate gets you no where. Don’t get me wrong I am not happy that he chooses not to be in his daughters life, but I feel sorry that he doesn’t even comprehend what he is missing out on. My daughter will never have to wonder “why wasn’t she enough to make him stay” because she will understand that when someone is lost, it is not about how much they love you..they simply cannot find their way back. I think you can tell that my daughter has made me a better woman and I feel nothing but blessed, I do believe their is a god and I believe he did chose her for me, and I for her. I am almost 50 and would not change one thing about the journey I am now on as a single mother . I am blessed. I pray that I will find a literary agent to help me pitch this book to a publishing company but have always prayed to break even and did so in three months of printing it, one thousand copies without blinking an eye. Unfortunately I had a very serious health scare and a few surgeries and hope that I will be around to see my daughter grow up. Life is an incredible journey..and for all the moms that are older, I raise my glass and share my heart as I know you are all blessed and truly “chosen”.
    If you want to look at some of the artwork for our story it is as beautiful as is the story..it is at http://www.abovethetrees.ca (http://www NULL.abovethetrees NULL.ca)
    Love & Light to you all

  9. Rosa says:

    Question? I am 44, have three grown boys. Is it selfish of me wanting to have another baby? Hoping and praying I could get my baby girl? Will love the baby no matter what of course. A friend of mine said I was selfish not thinking of the baby and not thinking of giving birth to a child with a problem. Wow, I went to my gynecologist she said my eggs are alright and no need for donors, have an appointment to see a fertility doctor in two weeks. I have a tubal ligation done 17 years ago. Should I be worried and be considered selfish for thinking of wanting a baby? I know it’s a new experience and I love children and I adore my grandson but will love to have a baby and go through motherhood all over again. A mom I will always be to my boys but the need to care for another baby it’s driving my mind insane. Please advise what you think….thanks

  10. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    Hi Rosa. As long as you are fit and healthy, and are ready to be devoted to a new baby, you are far from selfish. Many women continue to have children well into their 40’s. My mom had her 6th at 40. I had my second at 44. We all conceived naturally. I think its wise to see the fertility doctor and get a baseline. Go with your gut; trust your heart.

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