This post is all about my experiences as an older mother, from planning to have a baby to pregnancy and on through to the present. I had my son at the ripe “old” age of 39. That’s right, I was of “advanced maternal age!” Though I was reminded of this fairly frequently by my OB, I found it interesting that my fertility doctor and acupuncturist (who specialized in treating women with fertility issues) told me I had years left to have a baby. I guess it’s all in the way you look at it, right? Old by traditional baby-making standards and young by infertility standards.
DW and I talked frequently over the years about the possibility of children. I would bet that most lesbian moms skew older than their hetero counterparts just because of the hoops you have to jump through and the ideas you have to get your head around (or maybe it’s just me…) in order to be a parent. I wondered if it was fair to saddle a kid with the issues that would certainly come from having two moms. I struggled with the idea of how family and friends would react. I wasn’t actively “out” to my family, so that was another hurdle that I knew I’d have to deal with before considering getting pregnant. From figuring out sperm banks to finding a doctor, the whole process just felt overwhelming and intimidating. So much more baggage than the average hetero woman considering motherhood. Then close friends of ours did it (another lesbian couple) and it suddenly felt much less challenging. I am so thankful we had someone close to us go through it as I’m not sure we would have without watching their journey. They gave us good tips and we decided to go for it – probably 10 years after we first talked about the possibility.
It took me a while and some pretty serious intervention to get pregnant. We started when I was 38 with IUIs and Clomid. Tried that a few times, got fed up with the doctor’s too laid back attitude, and switched to a new doctor. He found a large fibroid, which was removed via a myomectomy. We decided to try IVF and got pregnant our first try, though it sadly ended in an early miscarriage. Tried again with an FET and got pregnant with Monkey. Though I definitely hit a few bumps in the road, in hindsight my pregnancy was very textbook. No health issues at all – it was actually pretty easy and was such a happy and exciting time in my life. Everything went smoothly (healthwise), all the way up to my scheduled C-section on 12/21/09 (had to be a C-S due to the myomectomy). The C-S and recovery were no big, and I was back at my pre-baby weight and in my old clothes within a couple of weeks of giving birth. Not bad for an “old” Mama 🙂
Now on to my life as an actual older MOM. One big plus in the older mom category for me is having a firm belief in my own abilities (after all these years being me on the planet) and in the ease with which I can ignore others’ advice. At close to 40 years old, I knew that I was more than capable of being a mom. I’ve had enough life experience to know that people always question your choices and offer their opinions and they are just that – opinions. For example, I was determined to nurse and did everything within my power to make it work – it was NOT easy in those early days. I think had I been younger, I might not have stuck with it. I had so many people around telling me how hard it is and that it’s okay if it didn’t work, etc., etc. and I think younger me would probably have listened to them and decided it was just too difficult (and shit, it was!). How sad that would have been as nursing has been an experience I will always treasure. I was also able to believe in myself as a mother and in my own intuition about how I wanted to do things.
Okay, this is getting so long and rambly! Let me stop here with a list of positives and a list of negatives as I see them on my own experience of “elderly” motherhood 😉
- I knew I wanted desperately to be a mother after years of careful consideration. This is good considering how friggin’ hard the baby years are!
- I have two degrees under my belt, am firmly established in my career, am financially secure, and we are able to have a stay-at-home mom. These are not things that would have been true 10 years ago.
- I have traveled, partied, and generally had a grand old time for 20 years of adulthood and was more than ready to settle down and devote myself to my family.
- I wish I had the energy I once did.
- I sometimes think about how old (or young) Monkey will be when I die. However, I know I wouldn’t have had a baby in my 20s, so it’s a matter of a few years difference if I had started when I probably should have (early 30s).
- I wish I had the luxury of time to make a decision about whether to have a second child. I feel anxiety about it every day but I just don’t feel quite ready yet. This is probably my biggest negative.