There's been lots of press lately about older mothers, most of it negative.
I'm certainly not refuting any of the scientific evidence. I know that fertility declines sharply after 30 and even more sharply after 40. I know that the odds of chromosomal problems increase with maternal age and that the chances of miscarriage and gestational diabetes are higher. I know that even with IVF it is very difficult to safely deliver a healthy baby after 45. And yet, that's exactly what I did and the resulting little miracle turned ten today.
I had my first baby at 26 - conception, pregnancy and birth, all to plan. Then followed several miscarriages, including two ectopics. That my body managed to gestate my second daughter seven years later was, in itself a miracle.
And then life, as it does, took another unexpected twist. Divorced and remarried to a (much) younger man with no biological children of his own, it occurred to me that if possible, he too should experience the wonder of pregnancy and childbirth. We didn't seek any assistance with conception but nor did we do anything to prevent it. It was a pie in the sky, fairytale sort of maybe but not likely thing, like when you imagine how you'll spend the Tattslotto winnings. I spent 3 weeks of every month in fairytale mode and then one week in resigned acceptance of the inevitable failure of my ludicrous plan. Then I actually got pregnant and had a couple of early losses and began to wonder if maybe the misery of miscarriage would overwhelm the pipe dream. I decided that my 45th birthday would be a defining moment and that after that I would look at some permanent contraception, but the birthday came and went and I was busy and didn't get around to making a doctor's appointment......
I didn't feel any different being pregnant at 45 than I had at 25. Apart from an early CVS to check for chromosomal issues, I had no extra attention because of my 'elderly' mother status. The pregnancy was textbook. Blood pressure normal, sugar normal, no morning sickness, no fluid retention. I was at work the day before he was born and and at 9.20 am on his due date, with no medical intervention, almost exactly one month before my 46th birthday, our beautiful boy was born.
I've read lots of comments on other blogs from women who say they couldn't imagine having the energy at 45 for a small child but honestly, I don't think I was any more tired than I had been with the girls. In fact because Taine had an enthusiastic and energetic new father and two much older and besotted big sisters, I probably had more rest than I had with either of them.
I've also read lots of comments lately about the selfishness of having a child whose mother will be an old age pensioner at his 21st. I do have moments of sadness when I do the sums that tell me I'm unlikely to spend a lot of time with Taine's children but despite having me in their mid 20s, both my parents were dead before I was 30 so I'm hopeful that he and I will get at least that much time together. If not, then there's the aforementioned big sisters and younger husband to maintain family continuity and in the meantime I make a big effort to record all our memories together. I also take exception to the assumption that I'll be in my dotage at 67. I may be too busy swanning around the world to organise a great 21st bash but I certainly won't be doddery!
My advancing age doesn't seem to have put too big a brake on our adventures so far. I may be a bit older than other mums but I'm not totally decrepit! We've ridden Dumbo at Disneyland and cycled the Washington Mall together. We walked the length of the Highline in New York and last week we snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef. Admittedly, I'm not that keen on getting up for junior footy early on Saturday mornings and I'm a bit over parent teacher interviews but every age-stage of a child is so wonderful and I've been able to enjoy my hands on parenting of these stages for much longer than most people. I feel very blessed that Santa has had a reason to visit our house for 30 continuous years.
So while it's optimal to conceive before you're 35, I believe it's more important to be a great parent and to have babies when the time is right, whether you're 18 or 50. And if you're an elderly, want to be mum, then don't give up hope. Even against the odds, it is possible. And so very worth it :-)