Thursday, July 3, 2014

I'm a Forty Something First Time Mum

As you can guess from the title of my blog, I am a forty something first time mum.  I’m an Irish Mammy albeit a modern Irish mammy and not the kind that Brendan O Carroll portrays in his series, Mrs Browns Boys.  That is something I can only aspire to!

Here in Ireland  'Mammy' or ''Ma are terms we use most frequently but 'Mum', 'Mom' 'mummy'  are all acceptable too.  I don’t mind what I’m called as long as it’s  not ‘geriatric  Mum’. This is a term I have heard a few times since I had my child!
I’ve also been told that I am, what is referred to in medical speak an ‘ Elderly Primigravida’. Apparently this is a woman who has a child for the first time over the age of 35.  I thought ‘elderly’ meant you were well past middle age and approaching your twilight years.  Apparently this is not the case for people like me!

I read that one of my favourite presenters Maia Dunphy is pregnant now at age 38.  From some of what I read she seems to feel she is at an advanced age to be having a baby for the first time. She said in an article that she was worried about what people might think of her having her first baby later in life. I suppose some people will feel that 38 is 'later in life', especially if they are referred to by some of the names above.The presenter Maura Derrane had her child in her forties and I am sure there are a host of other people older than Maia who know it's not too late. I, myself, was four months off my 42nd birthday having my little boy.

I decided to start this blog back in 2010. I thought it would be therapeutic for me. I thought it would help me to connect with other older first time mothers. I was lucky in that I did meet one other mother in the same situation as me.  She was forty when she had her son two weeks before I had mine.  We didn't meet up as often as I would have liked but even now, seven years on we are firm friends, as are our boys.  Through this blog, not only did I connect with other older mothers but I connected with mothers of all ages. I realised that most of the challenges facing mothers are the same, no matter what our age. However, I was happiest to 'meet' other mums who were in the older bracket, especially the blogging Mums! (put in blog names here)

It can be a lonely business being a forty something first time mum. 
Many of our friends have much older children and are at a different stage of parenthood than we are. When your child is a toddler and before preschool, you don’t meet many other mums.   I decided to join a mother and toddler group to counteract this. The facilitatior asked me if I was the 'Nana' (grandmother) or the mother. I vividly remember all eyes turning to look at me and how my spirits dropped. 

I realised then that I was at least ten years older than the other mothers there.  I had thought that I looked young but that question and the youth of the other mothers dashed my illusions. My little boy didn’t seem to want to join in with the group activities (how's that for solidarity) and in light of how I then felt, I took it as a sign not to return. I knew that being part of a group that looked upon me as the oldie wouldn’t help with my predicament.

You may wonder, if I was so worried about being an older mum, why I left it so late. There were many reasons, mostly to do with insecurities and wrong perspective on life. I did not want to be poor, trapped and miserable as had happened to many women of my mothers generation, and also to some of my peers. And so, I spent my twenties and thirties in a partying haze, pushing kids to the very bottom of my list.

I married at the age of 34 still uninterested in having children.  We both had decent full time jobs and enjoyed going away, drinking and going out for meals. I didn't believe in the biological clock or that  it would ever tick for me. 

How wrong I was! When I suddenly started to take more interest in my nieces and nephews, everyone was surprised.  My brothers had never asked me to babysit much and everyone said I preferred animals to kids. I guess, in hindsight, it would have seemed that way, but deep down I think I was just trying to avoid the whole issue. I had so many issues around childbirth and motherhood; it pains me to think of it now.

I couldn't bear to hear about pregnancies or see childbirth scenes on the television. I felt it was a humiliating and degrading experience for the woman and that, as usual, the man got off scot free. So, with an attitude like this, it really scared me when I started to ogle babies in their prams, and wonder what it would be like to have a child of my own!  What was happening to me? Had I been wrong about the biological clock after all?

We tried, but unfortunately nothing happened for a long time. Then I had my first miscarriage.Time went on and I hit the age of forty. I thought I should forget about the whole idea. By that stage I felt that it was probably my own fault that I could not conceive. I had spent the best part of 38 years saying I did not want children. Now it seemed as if my body was responding in kind. I felt as if I had willed it into not wanting them and it was just complying with my wishes. I remember someone saying to me at that time, that since I was forty, I might as well face the fact I would never have kids. I was sad but decided to get on with life and not think about it anymore.  I had succeeded in pushing the idea out of my life before so I would just do it again.

Parenthood is not the path for everyone and it is not in everyone's life journey. I thought that was probably the case with me. I went part time in my day job to spend more time caring for my mother. I had set up my own dog walking and pet sitting business a few years before and spent more time on it. I felt for the most part content with my life.

Then, it happened!  I was pregnant!  One day, while driving, the smell of petrol fumes made me feel nauseous. I had lost track of my cycle, had not felt sick before this and had no other symptoms.When the test came up positive, I did two more tests just to be sure and the result was the same. Positive. Positive. Positive!

When I shared my news, there were different reactions.  I had thought everyone would be positive and happy but this wasn’t always the case.  One urged me to think long and hard about it and another suggested I have all manner of tests done because of my age. I went for some private counselling just to be sure it was something both of us could handle. We then decided that we would forego the tests and just accept whatever and whoever was sent to us. Thankfully, all was perfect and in November 2007 our beautiful son was born. It really was the best day of my life!  I had often secretly sneered when I heard people say that, but now
 I knew what people meant!

Now I knew what people meant when they said that.If I had known how it would be, I would have tried to have children  earlier. I realise now that even if it did cause me to be trapped, having my son is a wonderful, beautiful blessing. Though it sometimes throws up challenges, So far, it is a bonus and an enhancement to our lives.

I had four siblings and my husband had eight so I sometimes feel sad that my son won't now have any. He won't have any because of the choices I made earlier in my life. 
Choices I made because I was afraid, afraid of being trapped, afraid of not being good enough to do a good job, afraid of so many things that never transpired.

We tried to do that for him but sadly, it was not to be. I was warned by the doctor about the statistics of miscarriage in women my age. I was devastated with the realisation that as time went on, the chances were less and less.  And now, here I am, aged almost 49 and with one precious child, a seven year old most appreciated son.  

I used to worry that by being older parents, we were doing our son an injustice. I used to worry that we be might get sick and old before he was fully ready to make his own way in the world. Someone had once said to me that they thought I was either brave or really selfish in having a child in my forties. 

Then my mother said something that really hit home.  She said that you don't have to be old to die. I realised then that no matter what age we are, there are no guarantees in life. Some people die young, some people die old and some people live longer than even their own children. I am doing my best to keep fit and healthy for as long as possible.  I rarely drink now, I practice yoga, I juice regularly adding much needed fruit and veg to my diet and I keep up to date with what the younger parents are into. I have become an improved version of myself because of my child and I aim to keep that up.

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would become a forty something first timemum but I did and I am.  If you have an opinion on women becoming older mothers, please share it in the comnments!


  1. According to a new study, women like us who conceive naturally their late 30s and 40s are likely to live longer than their female peers born the same year! Your wise Mammy spoke true words!

  2. Hi! I stumbled upon this while searching "fortysomething male stomach cramps" for my husband. Funny, huh. I myself conceived for the first time and gave birth at an "Advanced Maternal Age" though I was only 39...thought of blogging as I was on bedrest, but somehow did not...It was also in 2010, or early 2011 when my child was 2 years old, when I started a blog I called "Manila Older Mother"... I married at 32, and held the attitude that pregnancy would just happen. I was pressured by everyone around me. Never took contraceptives, never prevented, it just didn't happen until a surprise in 2007...when you gave birth :-) I miraculously conceived again in 2010 but the fetal heartbeat was so slow, I miscarried. I've discontinued that blog, but I always have "imagined posts" still lingering in the back of my mind. Nice reading your intro, as I really can relate to many of the things you said. You look gorgeous, and your boy is so cute. I have a girl, and she is a handful. Anyway, now I feel like reopening my blog, but just really have little time to do it. I only maintain the other one about where I live. I guess what compels me to comment is: for the first time in four years I am worried about possibly being pregnant right now! Is that even possible, haha. Oh well...will be back to read your blog.

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  4. Your mother was right. :)

    There are issues and concerns with being an older mom (my last was born when I was 42); however, parenting at any age has no guarantees.

    I hope you will forgive yourself for decisions made earlier in life... if in fact, there's anything to forgive. We operate in the present. Who can predict the future?

    I hope you and your family are doing well! Perhaps you'll resume your blog soon? :)

  5. Props for the article! For added reference, I encourage you to read the 7 Critical Mistakes You Need To Avoid As A Rookie Parent

  6. Just saw your blog after a google search. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm almost 40 and just remarried, I've wanted a 3rd child ( other 2 are not with me, rarely ever see them).
    After seeing your lovely contented picture with your son, I know what a gift it is, no matter the age or circumstances. Congrats and very best wishes.

  7. I am 36 and trying to conceive having breast cancer......


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