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In the three intervening years between delivering Alex when I was almost 42, followed by Lizzie six weeks shy of my 45th birthday, my obstetrician acquired a unique distinction—she had become a first-time over-40 mom herself.
It was my first inkling that midlife motherhood was no longer the exception. In fact, it was fast becoming a ‘movement’ not unlike a benevolent, maternal incarnation of the Borg (http://www NULL.startrek NULL.com/startrek/view/library/aliens/article/70558 NULL.html), as the healthcare professionals who treated us, were being assimilated into our growing demographic.
And, since early in the millennium, the new breed of midlife motherhood has given birth to a global expansion—you could say that “resistance is futile”.
Psychotherapist Jennifer Levy (http://wellspringshealth NULL.com/), founder of First Time Moms Over 40 (jenniferlevy null@null comcast NULL.net) and specializing in postpartum depression and women’s health issues in Chicago, Illinois—and who had her 8-month-old son Myles at the age of 44—is one of the latest to join the ‘mother ship’.
Through working with mothers in her private practice (http://wellspringshealth NULL.com/), and as a member of FPM’s Over-40 Mom Squad of experts, Levy represents the forerunners of pre- and postnatal healthcare professionals who have begun to ‘walk the over-40 mom talk.’
Levy, who gave birth to her ‘miracle’ baby, Myles, in May 2009 has been profoundly moved by her personal odyssey—fraught with seemingly insurmountable odds—to become a midlife mother. This year she plans to launch the first support group in the Chicago area to focus specifically on the unique needs of new moms over 40, if enough local interest can be generated.
And, after “three years of difficult fertility treatments and heartbreaking cycles” before conceiving Myles on their last attempt at IVF, Jennifer Levy has earned her chops.
Like most of our generation, she admits: “My twenties and thirties were spent developing myself both professionally and personally—always thinking I’d get married along the way and have a child.” She “forged ahead” with her career until she met the man she “couldn’t spend her life without” and got married at 40.
When her husband’s first wife passed away within weeks of the marriage, Levy suddenly won the title of “stepmother” to her new husband’s 8-year-old daughter.
“Sideways, is the way I describe raising a child out of the blue” says Levy. But it woke within her the call of a mother’s heart.
“It stirred up a longing I couldn’t ignore” she continues, “I became very determined to have a child”.
“After briefly trying to conceive on our own, we moved to Clomid and then on to IVF pretty quickly, given my age. A profound sense of loss and sadness came over me as I realized that what I wanted more than anything might not happen at all.”
But when Myles was born via unplanned C-section last May, the experience was an epiphany: “This child is a total miracle to me.”
And, as her prayers were answered, the baby was named Myles Isaac after the biblical story about the son of Sarah (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Sarah) and Abraham (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Abraham).
“It was a child they had longed for but were unable to have until Abraham was around 100 and Sarah was about 90” says Levy, “sort of like today’s 40+ moms –unbelievable! “
“My life is completely changed now—I think of Myles every moment and dream of all I want him to experience in this life.”
Levy (now 45), who has found that 25% of her Chicago-based private psychotherapy practice consists of new mothers over 40, realizes that midlife motherhood has made her uniquely qualified to empathize with the broad panoply of their particular needs and challenges.
“Infertility is the first challenge presented” she says, “and women need support when going through infertility treatments, as well as through their pregnancy, particularly during pre-natal evaluation and testing which is more invasive and frequent when they are over 40.”
Jennifer Levy is also acutely aware of the difficulties in adjusting to later life motherhood: “Often, 40+ new mothers have little peer support as most of their friends had children younger, and their parents are older and unavailable.”
There is also the rarely mentioned ‘shock’ value of becoming a midlife mother—“After years of being career focused, older mothers have more difficulty adjusting to the needs and demands of a baby” and coping with reality after “an idealized notion of what the first few months are like”.
Levy feels that the sleep deprivation of new motherhood “seems more debilitating for 40+ moms, often significantly affecting their mood.”
Looking ahead, Jennifer Levy is excited about a future filled with dreams for Myles Isaac—child of a modern Sarah and Abraham—and the significant contribution she can make to the quality of life of her over-40 mom patients through her private practice and her new support group.
“Having experienced infertility, fertility treatment, pregnancy, birth and the adjustment to motherhood” she says, “I can understand my patients’ experience in a more profound and shared manner.
“I am able to clarify, normalize and provide support and guidance from a place of truly knowing.”
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
Jennifer E. Levy, LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor) is currently providing psychotherapy in a private group practice, Wellsprings Health Associates (http://wellspringshealth NULL.com/).
She is the Founder of First Time Moms Over 40 (jenniferlevy null@null comcast NULL.net), Chicago-based group providing support, camaraderie and psychoeducation to women, aged 40+. Contact: 312-573-0900, ext.310.
She may also be reached directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org (JenniferLevy null@null comcast NULL.net).
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