Becoming a First-Time Mom in Your 40s
Today’s post is courtesy of Elizabeth Patterson, a working parent and Bright Horizons mom of two.
Every once in awhile, there is a news story about a woman giving birth in her 40s or 50s. Apparently, it’s terribly newsworthy. Sometimes the story is about a self-centered celebrity wealthy enough to have it all, or a selfless mother helping her daughter to have children, or a selfish woman who put off motherhood because of work demands. No matter what, there often seems to be a very harsh judgment about this particular circumstance of motherhood. But what about the average woman who just waited for the love of her life to come along?
My husband proposed to me on the eve of my 40th birthday. We were married only five months later because we wanted to start a family. Within a month I was pregnant and within six weeks I had my first miscarriage. And so began two years of heartbreak (my uterus was the wrong shape – did anyone even know this was possible?). On my 42nd birthday, I was told by a very good fertility doctor that my only choices were adoption or donor egg. It was a pivotal moment. Do we give up or try harder? So, I got another doctor and got lucky. We now have two biological children, a four-year-old son (I delivered at 43) and a two-year-old daughter (I delivered at 45).
My own mother was 42 when she had me (her sixth child), so part of my mantra was that becoming a mom in my 40s was achievable. My mom was always feisty so she was never shy about her age, and she was always proud of me. I was really an accomplishment to her. And a gift.
Many of the issues I face as a mom are absolutely no different just because I’m in my 40s. Regardless of age, I’d wager that all mothers are exhausted. I’m certain that all working mothers wish they had more time to play with their kids. I believe most moms probably second-guess their daily decisions. And every woman on the planet wishes our bodies didn’t jiggle or sag as much as they tend to do. And, regardless of age, children are an excellent leveler, bestowing the feeling of supreme wisdom and monumental stupidity beyond your years.
But, so far, I will admit that there are two factors I didn’t think through where it comes to becoming a first-time mom in your 40s. First, I absolutely never considered the combination of perimenopause, toddler and preschooler. This is kind of big and important. Maintaining equanimity is hard enough (and nearly impossible for me…I’m Italian-Irish!), but in these circumstances, when pushed, I get ugly. I try to remind myself of how wanted these sweet little people are, and, in moments of despair, I try to just stop fighting and hug them.
And second, sadly, my own mother only met my son once when he was a baby. She was in the convalescent home by this point. She didn’t really know who I was and, being her sassy self, pronounced, as if to a stranger, “He’s cute. You should keep him.” The day before our son turned one, she was gone. I know this could happen at any age, but it’s more likely to happen when you yourself are older. And, naturally, I do wonder if I’ll ever have the chance to know my own grandchildren.
In the end, you are only as old as you choose to be and I’m very glad I didn’t let “news” stories or doctors stop us. I’m certain that people will judge me as a mother…just don’t judge me based on my age.
I’m Elizabeth Patterson. At 47, my life has completely turned around in a few short years. I was single, but now am married with a two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son (both at Bright Horizons). I used to live a simple, organized city life, but am now in the suburbs, trying to find my car keys and finally understanding years of TV commercials about serving dinner in under 30 minutes. I used to be a marketing manager with a money market account, but now I am clipping coupons and working as an administrative assistant. There are ups and downs, but I think I’m the luckiest person in the world.
- Read more posts from Elizabeth including Am I Yelling at My Kids Too Much? and Managing When a Teacher Leaves
- E-family news: Parents Over 40 – What’s Similar to Younger Parents and What’s Different?
- E-family news: The Sandwich Generation – Duality in Caring
- Read more posts about the sandwich generation from the Family Room bloggers