Lessons Learned as an Old Pregnant Lady
I couldn’t believe that I was pregnant at 40 naturally!
After the age of 40, there are many things you imagine you may hear from your doctor, but to learn that I was pregnant was not one of them. This news came as a shock! I had never been pregnant before and was informed the previous year that medical intervention would be needed to conceive.
Ultimately, given the financial cost, I believed I was not meant to be a mom.
But, here I was, over 40 and pregnant. Not only was I pregnant, I was a special kind of pregnant. I was officially of “Advanced Maternal Age.” Yikes!
But, in the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Not only was I pregnant, I was a special kind of pregnant. I was officially of “Advanced Maternal Age.” Yikes!
What is Advanced Maternal Age?
If you’re pregnant over 40 like I was, then you’re ‘Advanced Maternal Age.’
The US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, defines AMA as “childbearing in a woman over 35 years of age.” Is it just me, but does 35 seem old to you? Maybe it’s because I was and still am older than that. But still.
Even if I could do it all over again, I personally wouldn’t plan to have a child before 35. I had a lot of growing up to do. Things just start coming together in your 30s.
During that first appointment, I imagined hearing a lot of things. I expected to learn the due date, to know when I could find out the gender, how to eat and what to do. I never imagined being told that I was an old pregnant lady.
Yet, biologically, I was considered an old mom. Other descriptive terms are Mature Gravida and Geriatric Pregnancy. Personally, I prefer the word ‘advanced’ over ‘geriatric’; advanced sounds much more elevated and grand, wouldn’t you say?
And, I could take comfort in the fact that I was not alone. More and more women are becoming moms at an older age. Like me, Salma Hayek, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman had their daughters at 41.
What Are the Risks of Being Advanced Maternal Age?
It cannot be denied, I was in my 40s. I didn’t walk into the appointment feeling old, but I sure did when I left. Unlike men’s sperm, women are born with all of the eggs we will ever have. Part of the challenge is that, as we age so do they.
All moms-to-be, old or young, are encouraged to follow similar guidance to foster healthy births such as, healthy diet, exercise, rest, prenatal care, and medical care. I wanted to be one of the pregnant over 40 success stories.
There are risks to an after 40 pregnancy.
As outlined by the Mayo Clinic, increased risk factors include but are not limited to: multiple pregnancy, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, fetal growth restriction, low birth weight, premature birth and chromosomal abnormalities.
To monitor things, it meant that I had more appointments than someone younger might have scheduled. Initially, those appointments included wellness checks, additional ultrasounds and monitoring the baby’s vitals every few weeks.
Around the 20 week mark, I experienced fetal growth restriction. This impacted the frequency of my medical supervision. In the beginning it was every couple of weeks, but by the last 2 months, due to the baby’s development coupled with my age, I went in twice a week. The schedule and commute time were inconvenient, but given the circumstances, I understood.
Over 40 Pregnancy Blessings
Blessedly, aside from the appointments and attention, I had an easy pregnancy. I didn’t have morning sickness at all. No bloating until the last couple of weeks. No extreme weight gain. For the most part, my being called an AMA mostly made family and friends laugh.
In many ways, I was very lucky and, given what could have happened, I feel fortunate beyond all measure.
The thing that bothered me most was the pressure by doctors to induce before my due date. Due to the risk of stillbirth, from about 32 weeks and beyond, it was a weekly discussion that I had no interest in being a part of.
Had the baby shown any distress during any of the appointments leading up to her birth, I would definitely have considered early induction.
But, as her heartbeat remained strong, I wanted her to have as long as possible to develop. With the support of the babies father, I stuck to my guns and was able to continue the pregnancy until 2 days before my due date, when I delivered a healthy child.
Pregnant After 40, Reality Check
What started out as an unexpected label that didn’t weigh too heavily on my mind during pregnancy, after the baby was born, things changed. I employ a form of self-torture by “doing the math” for unpleasant things. If you’re a renter, have you ever added up how much rent you pay each year? Yeah, that kind of thing.
So, in this case, my computing entailed, “how old will I be when she graduates from high school?” No need for you to count – I did it already. 60. I will be 60 years old! Just typing that out is even more staggering than it was thinking about it.
I pushed it even further by comparing myself to my parents. I grew up with the old parents. They were several years older than the parents of my peers and I am 10 years older than that!! Yikes!
Related Article: Motherhood Mindset Makeover
Pregnant After 40, Life with Baby
I am now in my late 40s and I feel it. I am no longer sheltered in my little bubble with my kiddo, hidden away from the world. We walk amongst you and in that, I can see how old I am.
I remember a time when I would jump at any and all invitations to hang out. Now, I prefer the comforts of home. Unfortunately, being indoors all the time is no place for a kid. (I know, it’s not good for me either). I spent my youth outside; running, climbing, riding, playing until the lights came on. I loved my childhood.
My struggle is that I want to give that to my kid, but I really, really want to curl up on the couch with my blanket and binge watch something ridiculous.
The struggle is real.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that how I age is up to me. Physically, I feel battered. Knees creak, it takes a minute to stand upright and I am not as quick on the draw as I used to be.
Honestly, I don’t have time to be old anymore. When you have a young child, there just isn’t time. I’m embracing my inner child.
I am putting myself out there, fully prepared to embarrass myself in the name of remaining youthful, or at the very least, upright. I mean, I jumped rope for the first time in decades, for goodness sake!
Benefits to Being an Older Parent
Don’t get me wrong… it’s not all full of doom, gloom and body aches. Sometimes, I have challenges between my motherhood and identity. But, there are definitely some benefits to becoming a parent at an older age.
Financial stability, for one.
Regardless of your stage in life, the unexpected and on-going expense of parenting can be a burden. At that time, I was so thankful not to worry about my finances. I had a good paying job, savings and was debt free.
I can’t imagine what I would have done had she come in my twenties. My lifestyle was so unstable, there is no way I was in any position to become a mom back then.
I went to college and lived in an expensive city and had to scrape rent together more times than I cared to count. My account was often over-drawn, credit cards maxed out, bills overdue. I was a mess. Life was about the moment, not the future. I never thought about tomorrow too seriously.
The me back then made life a lot harder for the me in my 30s; I had so much maturing to do. I am incredibly thankful to be just the tiniest bit wiser. But wisdom can be a double-edged sword. While I don’t panic over every sniffle, I can be too cautious.
Living in the world that we do, very little surprises me, but I see demons around every corner. I am not as trusting as I once was and I worry that perspective will take a little of the shine of life away from her.
Final Thoughts of Pregnant at 40 Naturally
So, how am I handling being a first time mom in my 40s today? I was fortunate to get pregnant at 40 naturally. I know that isn’t the case for a lot of women.
I’ve been given a gift.
I feel like I was one of the pregnant over 40 success stories. Although, I was a little slow to adjusting, that’s for sure.
I can’t even tell you how horrible I feel about squandering the early, early years. My only blessing is that she’s still young and there’s still time to fold up my shawl, get off my rocker, get out there and do something.
The world is a much different place than it was when I was a kid. It’s odd, there’s so much more available, yet much less at the same time. I’m always in search of balance.
She’s such a unique little person who deserves to thrive and I love watching her blossom. Have you ever stopped to look at the world through the lens of a child? The wonder, excitement and curiosity they have is infectious.
I spend a lot of time saying, “be careful,” when I need to do more of, “go for it!” It’s time to explore and be curious about life again. Instead of sitting on the sidelines retiring from adventure, I choose to embrace it. How about you? C’mon moms, young, old and in-between. Are you with me?
This perspective is from my personal experience. If you are an older mom, your experience may differ from mine. While there are more risks and considerations for pregnancy in older women, I certainly would not recommend having a child earlier to avoid these risks. Work with your doctor to ensure that you and baby are both healthy, no matter your age.
Did you become a mom at an older age? Please share your experience in the comments below.