Thursday, 10 November 2011
Guest Post - 'Being An Older Mum'
By Polly of Caught Writing.
Her blog is emotive, thoughtful and and highly observant.
BEING AN OLDER MUM
To be honest, I didn’t consider myself to be an older mum at first. I only became aware of it as a result of other people’s comments. A colleague at work, on hearing of my pregnancy, commented that I was “a bit old for all that.” Someone else was stunned into saying that they thought I’d already gone through an early menopause. I was 38 at the time. The number of women choosing to have babies in their late 30s and older is increasing and it’s no longer the rarity that it once was. There are many reasons for this, from wanting to build and become established in a career before taking a break, to not being sure of the desire to be a parent until later, to meeting a suitable partner a little later and wanting to build that relationship before having a family.
I was 39 when my little chap was born. I was already 34 when I met my husband and it took a while for him to decide that marriage and children were what he wanted. Having made that decision, we then had trouble conceiving and unfortunately lost our first child at 14 weeks. By this time I was nearly 38 and faced with the very real prospect that we were going to find this process difficult and that, biologically speaking, time was getting shorter.
There may have been a few comments from friends and acquaintances about my slightly advanced age, but I encountered nothing but support from the NHS. I was never treated with anything other than dignity and respect and my age didn’t come into any discussions with any of the health professionals, apart from the obvious increased risk of conditions such as Downs. Thankfully, following a blood test, my risk for Downs came back as minimal, so there were few worries about that.
I sailed through my pregnancy and most of the birth. I had none of the problems that other women seemed to experience. I felt vaguely sick for most of the first 14 weeks or so, but was sick only once and I had none of the other symptoms commonly associated with pregnancy. I remember commenting to one doctor when I was about 22 weeks pregnant that I hardly felt pregnant at all and it was true. I felt very, very healthy. I wanted a home birth and did achieve a home labour, but 12 hours into the labour, 24 hours since I’d last had any sleep, the contractions stopped and I was taken to the hospital, where the little man was born twenty minutes later by ventouse. I defy anyone of any age not to need a little help after more than 24 hours without sleep, 12 of which were spent in labour, and I don’t believe that was related to my age. Many younger women have longer and more difficult labours. Mine was as tranquil an experience as it could be, spent at home with my husband and two midwives. In fact I remember one of the midwives commenting that she couldn’t believe how calm I was.
Once we bought the little man home, we settled into parenthood very easily. I had already decided that my life was now his and I devoted myself to him. This made things easier, I think, as I wasn’t trying to get back to work, keep up a social life, or fit the baby into my life. I fitted completely and easily into his life, and just went with the flow. I certainly had the confidence at 39 to declare that this is how it was going to be, whereas when I was younger I might have been more easily swayed by other people’s opinions about how it was “meant” to be. I knew exactly how I wanted to nurture my baby and that was largely led by his needs and requirements. I remember those early weeks as being calm, quiet and peaceful, just me and him, and my husband in the evenings and at weekends, getting to know one another, cuddling up on the sofa all day. I don’t think I stopped looking at him or carrying him around for the first year of his life. I was so lucky to have had that time.
I don’t think I had less energy being an older mum than I would have as a younger one. For one thing, I was much healthier at 39 than I was in my twenties; closer to my healthy weight, better nourished, less stressed. I remember telling my husband that, despite he sleep disturbances that come with a new baby, I had never felt so alive or energetic. It was amazing to me, but the whole experience gave me such focus and positivity. Our little chap is such a joy and has bought us nothing but pleasure. We are lucky to have these experiences, at just the right time in our lives for us.
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