If you’re 35 or older and considering starting a family, this one’s for you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “geriatric pregnancy” from someone in the medical field. If you’re like me, you hold your breath and let the rage silently bubble up when you hear it. Thankfully “the phrase that shall not be named” is losing traction in the medical world. I honestly didn’t hear it once during my pregnancy. It’s antiquated and outdated, and given the advances in maternal care over the years we can probably do away with the term altogether. Just to note, I’m not a huge fan of its replacement “advanced maternal age” either. But I guess it’s better than “old fart” scribbled across your medical chart.
The interesting fact is that a growing number of women are deciding to wait to start families until they’re older and have established their careers, found the right partner, etc. Birth rates for women under 40 have been declining over the past 10 years, while the numbers for women 40 and over have steadily climbed upward. You are not alone!
I’m 45 years old. I was 43 when I got pregnant, and 44 when I delivered. My son is now 18 months old, and I’ll be 46 in a couple of months. We were, miraculously, able to conceive naturally after being told the likelihood was very low. It is true that it is more difficult to conceive after the age of 35, so that is a factor to consider in your decision. Also, the chance of miscarriage increases over the age of 40. My advice to you is to be as informed as you possibly can be and do the genetic testing if/when you become pregnant. Because to quote my childhood, “knowing is half the battle.”
I’ll start with the cons first. Postpartum was rough, to put it mildly. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and wicked hormone imbalances since he was around four or five months old. There are studies being done on the possible correlation of higher instances of postpartum depression for women aged 40-44 versus women under 40. My body didn’t recover as well as I thought it would after the cesarean and all the sleep deprivation. Working out is more difficult as everything hurts more. I’m also acutely aware of my mortality now, and that I’ll be the “old” mom when he starts school.
While there have been many challenges to having a baby at 44 there are some great rewards, too. I seem to have infinitely more patience than I did in earlier years. I’m far more introspective and empathetic now. I have wisdom from past mistakes, failures, wins, and life lessons that I can pass on to my son. We can provide better stability for our son now, versus when we were younger and first starting out together. I use and trust my intuition to guide me in parenting decisions, whereas earlier in life I may not have as I didn’t trust my instincts enough.
The Right Time
If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard “it’s never the right time to have kids, just do it.” I’d be, well, not rich, but decently comfortable. And while there is a lot of truth to that, it most definitely must be the right time for you. Whether that time is by your decision, or by fate’s (aka a fair amount of day drinking at the Royal American), as in my case. I honestly do not know if I would’ve waited so long to have children if I could hop in the time machine and do it all over again. If I had it my way, it would’ve happened somewhere between 35-40. But that wasn’t my path and I accept that.
Having children in your 40s means you give up a life you had gotten very comfortable with: sleeping in (I REALLY miss sleeping until 7 a.m.), going and doing whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, having a job or career you hopefully love, making decisions that don’t revolve around nap times and schedules. My counterargument is I already lived that life in my 20s and 30s. I’ve lived a lot and have peace of mind knowing I’m not missing out on anything. No FOMO for me. I can give all my attention and focus to my family and to my business and am exuberantly happy to do so.
Turns out that having babies in your 40s is pretty darn amazing.
Hi Toni. Loved the article. I too am an “older” mom. I actually gave birth to my son at 47 with the miracle of modern medicine. (IVF) He’s our only child and one of my only regrets is that I was too old to have a sibling for him. He definitely has the only child syndrome where he believes the world revolves around him. But doesn’t it though? Lol.
Hi Karen! Thank you so much for the message! Wow, that is amazing, congratulations! My son will also more than likely be an only child, and while I always envisioned having 2 children, I am ok with him being solo. I completely understand the only child syndrome struggle lol! I wish you the very best of everything! 🙂
Hi there! This article totally resonated with me. I had my first 10 months ago, at age 39. I just turned 40 and am currently trying to convince my 43yo husband that she needs a sibling. Lol
Hi Vanessa! Wow, congratulations! I loved the 10 month old stage, finding their personality and learning to roll and crawl, so precious! Thank you so much for reading my piece and for reaching out! I wish you the best of luck in your next journey to having another! ☺️