Being pregnant in your 20’s and 30’s is very different from pregnancy in your 40’s. From the physical and emotional differences to how your doctor deals with you. For me, I was lucky that I was in good shape and in good health when I got pregnant. The physical changes for me were not bad and for that, I’m thankful. Some of the other changes were a little tougher on me. Here are just a few things that you might experience if you are in your 40’s and pregnant:
Advanced Maternal Age
Never heard this term? You will if you get pregnant after 35 but even more so after 40. What does it mean? Well, it’s the doctors way of trying to nicely say that you are too darn old to be having a baby! No really, it is their way of identifying you as “high risk”. Why? Because after 40, your risk factors for having problems with the pregnancy increase dramatically. Birth defects, pre term labor and high blood pressure are just a few of the issues.
It’s actually rather terrifying when you go to your first OB appointment and the doctor starts telling you about everything that could go wrong. They tell you that you will need genetic testing, more frequent sonograms and office visits and will need to see a perinatologist (doctor who deals with high risk pregnancy). If you aren’t careful, you can easily drive yourself crazy with worry. My husband and I decided early on that we would do basic testing, but nothing drastic because our intent was to have the baby, whether or not he or she had any issues. It helped keep us focused on the excitement of the pregnancy rather than the worry of the “what if’s”. It was a challenge to get the doctors to understand that, but after awhile, they stopped pushing all of the tests. Thankfully for us, my tests came back normall and I my results showed that I had the same health as someone in their early 30’s which made me feel great.
I remember my first two pregnancies. I was in my late 20’s and I was tired, but I was able to work full time, take care of my house and family and still feel pretty good. I had occasional time of tiredness, but for the most part, it wasn’t so bad. Oh my gosh did that change this time around! I have never been so tired in my life. Maybe it was the combination of the pregnancy, new marriage, 4 teenage kids at home, working full time and handling all the kids sports commitments. (That makes me tired just thinking about it! ) Regardless, I felt like I just couldn’t get enough sleep. Unfortunately, my daughter is now 4 and I don’t see much change. If anything, I’m MORE exhausted if that is possible.
Figuring out where you fit in
This may seem strange, but being a mom again in your 40’s puts you in a strange situation.
For years, you have had a group of friends. You all had kids at the same time and they grew up together. As the kids enter middle and high school, you suddenly realize that in just a few years, you will actually have your own individual life back. Yes, you will still be a parent, but you will have much more free time to do things that you enjoy. Traveling, going on weekend trips alone with your spouse. Enjoying leisurely weekends hiking, watching a movie or sleeping in. Waking up and realizing you can go anywhere and do anything you want without any time restrictions or planning. You are thinking about retirement and remodeling your house. Suddenly, you become pregnant and you realize that you no longer fit into this group the way you used to.You can’t go out with no notice. You have to plan a sitter and be home at a certain time. You can’t take those trips with friends because they have no kids going with them. They are talking about redecorating their childs room to make it an office and you are figuring out where you are going to put a nursery. You are thinking about baby names and they are planning weddings (which you are also doing) Suddenly, things just aren’t the same.
You are suddenly thrown into a new group, but you don’t fit in there either. You see, the new mom is typically in her 20’s or early 30’s. She doesn’t have other kids and if she does, they are young. She has a totally different view of child rearing than you do. She has never raised teenagers and most likely was just being born herself when you were graduating high school or college. I found that during pregnancy, I kept to myself, not really socializing with any group because I just didn’t fit in. It wasn’t until my daughter was around 3 that I joined a mommy and me group and opened up to my new “younger” peer group. I decided to be a person that they could come to with questions, but I also realized that I could learn alot from them. Maybe I could learn to relax a little more and not be quite as strict as I was with my other kids (well, maybe not). I found a group of wonderful ladies who welcomed me, but I still felt like I didn’t really fit in with them. They didn’t understand the stress of having a baby AND teenagers in the house. They couldn’t relate to my parenting style and I had trouble understanding this new “relaxed” style of parenting they had. Honestly, it’s hard to be in a peer group of people that are just a few years older than your own kids. It was very hard to identify with them. But I had no choice and had to adapt.
You know what I mean. Now, lets be honest, we all have looked at the very young mother or the older mother and thought “I wonder how old they are”. Nothing will deflate your confidence more than the first time you are out with your newborn/infant/toddler and someone comes to you and says “your granddaugher is beautiful”. I have to say, I do get some enjoyment of the expression on their face when I say “she’s my daughter”. Open mouth, insert foot. This is something that I was used to as a kid because my mom was 41 when she had me and my dad was 45. I grew up with kids and parents thinking my mom and dad were my grandparents. They were great, but at times, I must admit that it bothered me. I am just thankful that in todays age, I don’t have to “look” like I’m 49 years old. I can dress nicely, and still care about my appearance. I’m thankful that people age much better now than they did even just 20 years ago. I’m sure Morgan will have some struggles with that, but I’m hoping that won’t be too difficult for her.
Overall, my pregnancy was great. I gained just under 25 pounds. I had no health problems and I delivered a very healthy 6 pound 15 ounce girl after only 6 hours of labor. My doctor said she wished all of her patients did as well as me. I spent 1 night in the hospital, but left the next day because Thanksgiving was 2 days later and I had to get home to prepare our Thanksgiving dinner. November 22, 2011, was one of the best days of my life. My life and my families life would never be the same. Morgan would bind our blended family together and bring an energy and excitement to our lives we never could have imagined.
In my future blogs, I will share stories from our family as Morgan comes home and our lives over the next 4.5 years to where we are now. I look forward to sharing our story and I hope it helps you appreciate those unexpected blessings in your life.
see you soon…….