I didn’t have my first child until I was in my 30s. I got married young and needed time to mature, earn (discover?) a living, and get settled. And in truth, I was ready long before my partner was. At the time I was resentful of this fact, but hindsight has given me the wisdom that I became a mother at the right time.
Not-so Positives of Being an “Older” Mother
My body isn’t what it once was.
The physical act of being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding and little sleep take their toll. While once my body would have bounced back quickly, our cells just don’t regenerate as fast the older we get. Physically speaking, having babies often feels like it was meant for younger people!
Advanced Maternal Age.
Once I turned 35, my midwife called me this. ADVANCED? Aaack! Hey, it’s better than the old term… “geriatric pregnancy” and sometimes “elderly primigravida.” And while it isn’t automatically a cause for concern, it does add risk to each pregnancy. You may be told to be induced or have a c-section at 39 weeks, simply because of this one factor. Your baby’s risk of having Down Syndrome increases significantly. Your risks of miscarriage and stillbirth go up, too, along with a host of medical conditions, like gestational diabetes, placenta previa, postpartum hemorrhage and more.
My friends with similarly-aged children are younger.
A lot younger. I have some friends who are 10 years younger than me, or more. In some ways, this can be a lot of fun. Thanks for the Snapchat lesson, y’all! But finding more in common than just being a mother… this is harder. Context, understanding, the issues I deal with every day, even pop culture references can be a struggle. “So, yeah, JEM was this holographic rock star that was really Jerrica.” I love my younger friends, of course, but it takes more work to be friends with them than those in my cohort.
Do the mental math right now.
When you’re 50, how old will your children be? Mine will be 18, 16 and 14. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, 50 seemed really old. And I’ll still be in the “raising teenagers” years. Ouch. I’m old enough right now to think about retirement and my child free years. They aren’t coming for a while!
Positives of Being An “Older” Mother
I have no desire to go out partying.
I did this a lot in my younger days. My idea of a fun night now is knitting, Netflixing, eating something treaty and drinking wine.
When we started having children, I was well established in my career.
We had plenty of discretionary income for all of the extras: a fancy stroller and diaper bag, cloth diapers, a new minivan, a nursery full of adorable clothes, toys and brand-new baby furniture that would rarely be used (because she co-slept), private childbirth classes and a doula. A doula? Yes! This is an extra! While we think having a doula at your baby’s birth is beneficial to everyone, women have babies every single day without one.
My children are like a fountain of youth.
Keeping up with these energetic youngsters, engaging in sweet child play, making sure they eat healthfully are all great for my body and mental age.
For me, being older = more confidence.
Call this my “no f’s left to give” attitude, if you like. Other people’s problems and opinions do not affect my choices for me or my children. Pressure to give birth in a certain setting, judgement for how I feed my baby, or other hot button parenting/pregnancy issues just don’t get to me anymore. They definitely would have in my 20s. Research seems to back at least part of this up, too, as older moms are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and breastfeed longer.
At the end of the day, there isn’t a blanket right or wrong time to have babies. What’s right for me is different than what is right for you. If you want children, and you try to wait for a “perfect” time, that time may never come. Having children is a gamble, for sure. The risk of hurt and pain and loss is great. Of course, so are the rewards of love and fun and growth.