A few weeks ago I made an Instagram post that asked you to fill in the blank 'the hardest part of becoming a parent for me was _______' Diane responded "the hardest part was adjusting to the lack of any down time and doing what I wanted whenever I wanted.." She had her son later in life (at 40) and so she had already established who Diane was as a person and a woman, but now she had to figure out who Diane was, as a mother.
I was almost 40 when I had my first child. Does this make me unique…probably not. When I was asked about writing a blog about being an older mom (or “advanced maternal age” as the doctors kindly like to call it), I wasn’t really sure in all honestly, what the heck I would write about. I never thought my story was something worth telling, but maybe it is. Maybe there is another young woman out there who has the same worries I did when I was younger. Maybe there is another mom out there in her late 30s or 40s and pregnant and wondering how it will all work out. So I’ll share my story and maybe someone might find some comfort in it. How I got to this point in my life is part of my story, so I’ll start there.
Growing up, I was like any other girl I’m sure. I always just assumed being a mom would be a part of my future. I never really thought twice about my decisions after highschool to attend a local community college and get a job in the “real world”. I just assumed the right guy would come along at some point. I was having fun, enjoying my early twenties, and spending time with friends. Slowly but surely, those friends started to find their perfect guy and move on, getting married and having kids. But time went on and my “perfect guy” never showed up. I kept looking, but loser after loser continued to show up instead. I continued on with my career, moving up and advancing, I was doing well.
In 1999, when I was about 25, I made a big career move, quit my job and moved to a new town. I was in an unhealthy relationship, but had convinced myself he was “the guy”. I started a brand new job, in an area I knew nothing about. The relationship ended (as it should have) and here I was, in a new town, with a new job that I was loving but I basically pretty much alone. Turning 30 was hard for me. To put it mildly, I didn’t handle it well. I cried pretty much all day. My life was nothing I imagined it would be when I turned 30. I was single, working a new job and I wasn’t sure where it was going, and basically alone in a new town. My friends from highschool and early twenties were all busy, rightfully so, with their lives, children and husbands and our contacts had faded. I felt overwhelmingly sad. I needed to do something so I decided to focus on my career. I went back to school at a local community college to get my paralegal degree. I was working full time during the day and attending school at night. It kept me busy, I didn’t think about the fact I was getting older. I still had a fleeting hope that the right guy would show up. I graduated in 2004 when I turned 31 and my career continued to flourish.
So here’s the funny story about that “right guy”, he appeared right after I moved to the new town, but I had no idea what the future would bring. Both of us were in other relationships at the time. He was a good friend, someone who advised me and was a friend during some really rough times in my life. We kept in touch but it was just a good friendship, and I didn’t put much thought into it being more than that. A few years later, in 2007, his situation changed and he needed a roommate. I was 34, tired of apartment living and decided to move in. The story of us begins there. Our friendship turned romantic and we fell in love. The saying is completely true, when you stop looking that’s when it will happen. My amazing husband proposed in 2011 and we were married in 2012, I was 39 and he was 45. Neither one of us had ever been married, he had no children and I obviously didn’t either.
My husband was never really sold on having kids, it wasn’t really something he dreamed of (I guess that’s a guy thing). Me on the other hand, it was. We decided to leave it to fate. I went off birth control 2 months before we got married and we said, if it’s meant to be, it will be. I was no longer in the prime of my life for having children and we knew that. It was highly possible that it just was past my time and I accepted that. Well, lo and behold, my little eggs were still in fine working order and apparently I am fertile mertle, and we came home from our honeymoom at the end of September 2012 with our little babe on board. I was due 2.5 months before my 40th birthday. Woah.
Reality sets in and at my first doctor visit I was officially labeled as “advanced maternal age”. Ya, I get it, I’m old. There’s a whole host of things that come along with that label. Thankfully because I am a pretty healthy person and my family history was pretty clear, my midwives were not concerned. Well, I’m glad they weren’t, because we did enough worrying for everyone the first few months. Because of the risks of birth defects and disorders at my age, we decided to go forward with genetic testing and amniocentesis for our peace of mind. This can’t be done until 16 weeks so we had to wait a bit. We did not tell anyone about the pregnancy in the meantime. Side note…A couple years before this, I had a close friend that was my age when she got pregnant and her baby had multiple deformities and problems and would have never survived outside the womb. They had already announced they were pregnant and so having to then go back and tell everyone that they decided to abort was a horrible situation for them. I didn’t want to possibly have to go through that kind of pain. So we kept the secret.
The time finally came at the beginning of December for the amnio and I’m telling you now, that was by far the WORST thing I have ever experienced in my entire life to date. Not because of the doctors (UW Medicine is amazing), but the procedure itself is beyond stressful and I nearly hyperventilated in the procedure room. Thankfully, my husband and the fabulous nurses calmed me down and we did the test. The next few days crept by as we waited for the results. The results finally came and, thank the good Lord above, it was completely normal. Our baby was fine and we could FINALLY breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate this amazing child of ours. We told our families soon after and they were so excited along with us (although legitimately questioning how the heck I hid an almost 4-month pregnant belly!).
The rest of my pregnancy was pretty unremarkable. Because of my, wait for it…advanced maternal age…I had regular sonograms. I was actually thankful for this as it just reassured me that our baby boy was developing well with no concerns or problems.
Another note, because of my age, we knew this would be our only child. My husband and I had many conversations about this and I was committed to enjoying and appreciating every second of my pregnancy. I rarely let any of the not-so-fun parts of pregnancy get me down. I was so thankful for this little boy. I was blessed with a pretty easy pregnancy and time went by fast. Soon, it was May and time to welcome our little boy. I went into labor the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend. After 42 hours of labor, our little boy ended up arriving via C-Section at 8:20 pm on Wednesday, May 29th at 8 lbs, 9 oz and 21.5 inches long. Just a note, the C-Section had nothing to do with my age. He was just too big for little me and wasn’t going to come out the regular way.
So here I am, almost 40 years old and I have a newborn. Interesting fact you don’t really think about. Every person I knew my age who had children, their children were now in their teens. No one I knew even remembered what it was like to have a newborn. And things had changed so much in the last 15-ish years, everything anyone I knew remembered, was now out of date and no longer the current accepted ways. Additionally, I had lost touch with most of my friends from highschool and my early twenties anyway. I felt pretty alone, I really didn’t have anyone to ask questions of or support me in a “I’ve been there” kind of way. Thank heavens, a friend of mine (who was in her early twenties) hooked me up with an AMAZING group of moms in a Facebook group (shout out to all my NMOSS mamas!). They offered support, advice and guidance on just about everything I needed. They didn’t care, or really even know, that I was 15 years older than most of them. Say what you will about social media, but to this day, I am so grateful I had those moms to turn to. They didn’t judge, they offered advice freely and honestly. In turn, I am now able to offer some advice I’ve learned to other new moms. This, my friends, is what all moms should want to be (I’ll avoid my soapbox here about how judgey some moms can be…grrrrr…).
I think the biggest adjustment I had to make in myself was accepting this new life. I had almost 40 years of living my own life, doing what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. Before I got pregnant, I was involved with several non-profit programs and volunteered pretty regularly. I worked a 40-hour a week job and no one really questioned that. I had quiet time with my husband every evening when we could watch TV shows together, we worked hard on our house and spent lots of time outside doing home projects. That changed overnight. I got home with this new baby and suddenly every action I took revolved around someone else. I very clearly remember one day shortly after having my son, crying and thinking “is this my life now?” I was tired, hormonal, and had suddenly had a complete change of how my life had been just days before. It was a HARD adjustment for me.
So, here’s another “older mom” challenge…let’s talk about mom friendships. They are HARD. I once read a blog about how making new mom friends is like dating, and no joke, it pretty much is. Well, add in the bonus that I am 15-ish years older than most moms that have kiddos my son’s age and it is just practically impossible. I generally have very little in common with other moms who have kids my son’s age. Truthfully, I envy other moms who have these fabulous friendships with other moms. I don’t have that. Let’s be honest, its sucks sometimes. I would love to have other mom friends that I could meet up with, have play dates and gossip with while our kiddos play and grow up together. Because our son is an only child, I am constantly looking for social situations for him to meet up and play with other kiddos his age. After a lot of work, I now have a couple moms that we meet up with so the kiddos can play, but it was hard to get there. I still don’t have that close friendships with those moms, but it works. LOTS of reaching out, putting myself out there with no responses, which really just feels like rejection.
It’s HARD to continue to reach out and try to develop these relationships. It takes confidence in myself to not take it personally when I don’t get responses or get a “yeah, we should meet up” and then never hear from them again. But, I will continue to reach out because I feel like it’s important for my son to be in social situations with other kids his age. (Note, he is in preschool 3 days a week too and we do soccer, swim and Tball…so there’s that). But here’s the up side to this situation…I’m older and I no longer have any desire to try to be someone I’m not in order to make friendships (seriously…whose got time for that nonsense). The struggle younger moms have to wear the right clothes, hair, make-up…I’m past that. You get what you see with me, I have confidence in who I am as a person (and trust me…It took my pretty much 40 years to get there).
So here I am, almost 44 years old and I have an almost 4 years old. How do I feel about being an “older mom” now? Honestly, I think it’s pretty cool. With all the challenges that come along with it, I truly believe I am a better mom because I waited. I have TONS more patience that I would have had in my twenties, or even thirties, for that matter. My husband and I both have stable and financially secure careers and can afford to pay for activities, clothes, food and whatever else our son may need without too much worry. Having a successful career, I can show my son that a woman can be whatever she wants to be and hopefully start bringing down some gender biases. I have the experience to know and understand the importance of family relationships and that life is short (I’ve lost all my grandparents but one and my husband is the same). My husband and I have a strong, mature relationship to model for our son (most days anyway…). We both have “old school” values to teach our son, which, in my humble opinion, is greatly lacking in so many kids these days (treating our elders with respect, using our manners, saying please and thank you, handwritten thank you notes for gifts – don’t get me started on that one). These are just a few things that come to mind as I’m writing this but I am sure there are more I’ll think of later.
So, what do I want to end this with? My life motto…everything happens for a reason. Everything that I have gone through in my life up until now that seemed so hard, that I was upset with, that I questioned why it was happening…it all led me here. It led me to be the mom that I am, and I think I’m doing pretty okay. At the end of the day, I have the most fabulous life, I absolutely couldn’t ask for more, and I wouldn’t change being an “older mom” for anything.
Diane has been married to her husband, Tim, for 4.5 years and is mother to her almost 4 year old son, Cameron. During the week she works as a paralegal for the State of Washington. She also serves on the Board for the Miss Thurston County Scholarship Program. On her down time, Diane enjoys gardening, working on home projects, and spending time with her family.