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In 2003, I got the call of my life: “You’re pregnant!”
They were the words I had longed to hear for so long. At the age of 39, having married later in life, I had heard only the negatives: “You’re too old; the risks are too high for you and the baby”, or “Perhaps you should consider adoption”, and so on. I soon grew to loathe the phrase, ‘advanced maternal age’.
But I established a motto that got me through many trials, tribulations and heartache: “I don’t believe that I won’t conceive!”
Sixteen weeks later, I was devastated
So, excitement doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I heard the news. But, 16 weeks later, I miscarried and was devastated. Instead of sharing news of the pregnancy with family, we were telephoning them from the hospital before I was due to go in for surgery.
It took a while to heal both physically and emotionally. When I returned to work, people seemed quite comfortable judging me, with comments like, “You think she’d know better at her age”.
Then, in 2005, I received another call of my life. We were expecting once again. I was now 41.
I followed all the credible advice I could find, including eliminating all caffeine, including giving up my beloved chocolate, along with all fatty and fast-foods, and trans fats. I ate lots of dark green leafy veggies, bumped up my intake of calcium rich products, took prenatal vitamins, including folic acid, and exercised (primarily walking). Luckily, I had been a life-long non-smoker.
At the age of 41, I went into early labor
Over the next few months, I must have looked at my abdomen and my profile hundreds of times, eager to see a small bump. I felt so alive.
The pregnancy was smooth, and predictable. The announcement at work and to family members was, once again, met with shock and disbelief. One person even said, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
At 33 weeks, at age 41, I went into early labor. Fifteen hours later, a tiny boy was born. How I had longed for that moment. And when it finally arrived, and I held my baby for the first time, I wept uncontrollably. I had never felt such joy.
Doctor advised us to try to conceive our 2nd child quickly
In July 2007, when I as 43, we welcomed another son into the family. The conception was 100% natural. I remember telling my doctor that we wanted a second baby and he said to try to conceive quickly because the chances of a successful pregnancy are highest in the first year following a pregnancy and delivery.
In the years that followed, we always felt that someone was missing from our family. I knew in my heart and soul that I wanted another child. We began to try to conceive. This time it proved far more difficult; 18 months went by and still no success.
We miscarried a child in 2009. Eventually, I underwent a series of tests to ensure that I was ovulating normally. The results came back positive. My obstetrician encouraged me to reduce my stress and relax. And I recalled my motto once again: “I don’t believe I won’t conceive”.
I gave birth again at 47, after a natural conception
At long last, in January 2011 we conceived out third child naturally. With our third child, we received some surprisingly kind and supportive comments. I guess the novelty had worn off.
In November 2011 when I was 47, I went into labor on my due date. Six hours later, after a very normal but fast labor, a healthy son was born.
While on the postpartum ward, I had the oddest experience: there was a stream of nurses peaking into my hospital room. After about the 8th one came in and then left again quickly, I listened at the door and heard them say: “She’s 47, can you believe it?”
Facing the pros and cons of being an “older” mom
Being an over-40 mom is a joy. There are so many positives. The boys are now 8 and 6 years old, and the youngest is 23 months. They keep me young. We lay in the grass in the backyard and study cloud formations; we ride our bicycles as a family every Saturday, travelling 25 km together; we go mountain climbing and hiking.
There is a stigma attached to being an older mom. People often laugh or sneer, and I do feel socially isolated quite often. I try to connect with other moms, but invariably they are 30 or under. Although we have children of similar ages, we have nothing else in common
I cherish every moment, every diaper, every tear of sadness or joy, and every scraped knee.
Yes, I am tired; but a wise person once said, ‘If as a parent you’re not tired at the end of the day, regardless of your age, you’re not doing it right.’
I can offer my children things that I could never have when I was half my age—financial security, a sense of being grounded in knowing who I am, and maturity.
On the negative front, I have given up my career for the moment. I had worked for 12 years as a senior manager in health care, with two university degrees. I rapidly learned that my former employer, while claiming to be family friendly, proved to be the reverse, and had no sympathy or understanding for my needs as an older mom.
Also, we have no family support. My husband works away for much of the time, so I am often single parenting. Ironically, our family views us as “older and wiser”, believing we don’t need help like young parents do.
Trying to conceive our 4th child naturally, at age 49
And so at 49, with 5 pregnancies, 2 miscarriages, and 3 births under my belt, we are trying for our 4th child. I know that the risks are also far greater, but perhaps that means that the rewards will be just as great.
My motto has changed: ‘I’m trying to believe that I will conceive”. Time will tell.
Notes for this blog:
For a list of articles on how to conceive naturally after 40, go to our “Pros & Cons” page and scroll down to the articles box in the section entitled: “The Mystery of Fertility After 40”: http://achildafter40.com/challenges-benefits-baby-after-40/#section-3
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CNN Mother's Day: "Mature Moms" (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)(http://youtu NULL.be/atScMih4_d0) (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
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