What I learned from becoming a mother at 42
I got married for the first time to my best friend at age 40. My husband and I conceived two beautiful, healthy baby girls the old-fashioned way. I gave birth at age 42 and again at 44.
Marriage and motherhood have taught me that everyone has different seasons in life. The key is never allowing anyone except God to determine where you should be in your season of life.
Discovery Led to InSeason Mom
During the birth of my daughters, I discovered three things:
- The population of first-time moms over 35 and 40 is growing.
- Most health care providers offer little or no positive support for older expectant moms.
- Nearly everyone, from your hair stylist to your favorite aunt to many health care professionals, accepts commonly held misconceptions as fact about pregnancy and motherhood over 35.
These discoveries led me to dispel misconceptions about giving birth after 35 or even 40 and to ease the fear about giving birth for older expectant moms.
That’s the reason I started my website, InSeasonMom, a leading resource for first-time moms over 35.
A #healthypregnancy #after35 is possible! For positive first-time moms #over35 #over40 #pregnancy and #birth stories visit https://t.co/ut2CaMKxey #baby #newborn #mum #mother pic.twitter.com/d3lUYzTuCm
— InSeasonMom Cynthia (@InSeasonMom) December 31, 2019
While I don’t tell women to wait until age 35 to conceive, I’m a nationally-recognized writer who provides emotional support during their pregnancy if they are over that age. I share positive stories of older women who’ve had successful pregnancies and births. I feel this emotional support is important as expectant moms work with their health care provider to ensure the best care possible.
I also address real areas of concern for older moms, such as being mistaken for your child’s grandmother to fear of dying before your child reaches adulthood.
Mistaken for Grandmother
Regardless of how young a first-time mom over 40 looks, there will come a day when she will be mistaken for the grandmother. When my kids were in elementary school, I got that question more than I do now. It may have been my back-in-the day physical appearance or the way I dressed. I was a fan of wearing clothes that looked like they belonged in the previous decade!
I don’t get the question now that my children are teenagers. Their friends may be used to seeing older parents, and I don’t go around advertising my age. Also, there seems to be an increase in older parents at my children’s school. Plus, I credit my teens for encouraging me to dress more fashionably.
While the grandparent question stung my pride, I was more concerned with my children’s reaction. When they were preschoolers, I prepared them for people thinking I was their grandmother. I told them that I prayed a long time for God to send them to me and He sent them when I was older than most mommies. I also told them that I wanted to have children within marriage.
Looking back, I may have gone overboard trying to prepare them for having older parents, which I thought would make them stand out in a class of younger parents. Life showed them that they had many classmates who stood out. The classmate who had two mommies stood out. The biracial classmate who had a white mom stood out. The classmate who lost both young parents to a tragic accident stood out.
What I Learned
One of the most important things I’ve learned as a first-time mom over 40 is it’s a normal desire to want to fit in with the crowd. But it is dangerous to want to fit in with the crowd at all costs. We give up too much of ourselves.
Several years ago, I met a woman in her 40’s who wanted to have a baby but was afraid of others mistaking her as the child’s grandmother. “I have too much pride for that,” she boasted.
I can’t help wondering what price she is paying to avoid being stereotyped as a grandmother. I wonder if she will ever regret not giving birth or adopting a baby because she needed approval from a society that changes as frequently as a newborn wets her diaper.
Cynthia Wilson James is the creator of InSeasonMom, a website offering support for first-time mothers over 35.