I never thought I’d be calling myself a first-time mom at 40. In fact, I distinctly remember saying multiple times in my late 20s and early 30s that “I am not going to be an old mom.” But… here I am! And I’m sharing a few of the lessons I learned as a first-time mom at 40.
When it seemed like everyone and their mother was getting married, I wanted to find my partner, too. But when friends started getting pregnant, I didn’t necessarily feel that baby fever. I was definitely not that person whose biological clock was ticking loudly in my ear.
A funny thing (and by funny, I mean annoying…) happens when you’re a woman in her mid- to late 30s and you’re still single. People make comments like, “do you want to get married?” or “you’re gettin’ up there, what about kids?”
For the most part, I was able to laugh it off, but in the back of my mind, I started thinking that maybe marriage and babies just weren’t in the cards for me. I even started doubting whether or not I wanted kids…ya know, because I wasn’t going to be one of those “old” moms.
Looking back now I don’t think I really doubted whether I wanted kids, I was trying to tell myself that I could be happy even if I didn’t find a partner or have kids. (I know that I could be a parent without being married or even having a partner and that plenty of people choose that for themselves, that just wasn’t a route that I personally wanted to go down.)
A few years and I met the guy that would eventually become my husband. As it turned out, he came with two bonus kids 🙂 Oddly enough, when it became evident that he was who I wanted to spend life with, I again started doubting whether I wanted kids of my own.
I found my partner and I had these great stepkids, so maybe I didn’t need anything else. (that’s what was going through my mind…)
All that time wondering if it would ever happen for me, waiting for the right person to show up…and I thought for sure that once I found him I’d be ready to get on to the baby-making. But as I was staring down a 40th birthday, I again found myself thinking, “do I want to be having a baby at 40?”
But I couldn’t stop wondering if a few years from now I’d regret it. I worried that four or five years from now when the odds were even more stacked against us that I would regret not at least giving it a try…
I did in fact become the “old” mom. Complete with the “geriatric pregnancy” and “advanced maternal age” tags that are super flattering (we’ll save the stigmas of having babies later-in-life for another post).
I had my son two weeks after my 40th birthday. And yes, I admit there was part of me that secretly hoped he’d come a few weeks early so that I’d still be 39, haha.
Fast forward and here we are, almost five years in, and I definitely do not have it all together. Some days (a lot of days) I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel like I learn something new about myself and about being a mom every single day.
So if you’re already a later-in-life mom and you’re looking for some solidarity, or you’re on your own journey to becoming a mom over 40, I want to share a few lessons I learned as a first-time mom at 40.
Lessons I learned as a first-time at 40:
1. Make a plan…and prepare for the plan to go out the window
What’s that saying about the best-laid plans? I’m not sure…but that point is that you can have the most detailed, specific plan for your labor and still have things go totally differently.
Looking back, I wish I had more of a plan. My mindset was that when it came time to give birth, I would be in the right hands and I’d feel confident knowing the doctors and nurses did this all day every day. But I didn’t consider what would happen if things didn’t go “normally”. I ended up having an unplanned c-section, which threw me for a loop, to say the least. After it was all over I definitely wish I had been a little more prepared for the different scenarios that could have happened. (hindsight is 20/20, right?)
My advice is to be somewhere in the middle. Have a plan and include things you definitely don’t want (and make sure your healthcare team knows what they are), but also be prepared for things to not go exactly how you plan them to!
2. Don’t Google pregnancy over 40
This goes for pretty much everything, right? Google one symptom and they’ll have you on your death bed…
Up until recent years, pregnancy over 40 was basically an oddity, and most of the information out there highlights all the things that can go wrong with your “geriatric” or “advanced maternal age” pregnancy.
I wasn’t thinking too much about the risks as much as I was calculating how old I’d be when my son graduated from high school (are you even an older mom if you haven’t done this at least once??) when I first found out I was pregnant. But one quick look on the internet looking for pregnancy resources gave me all kinds of anxiety about problems I could be facing.
So instead of going to Dr. Google, take any questions you have about getting pregnant over 40 or the health risks of pregnancy and childbirth over 40 to your OB/GYN, midwife, or doula.
3. Visit a pelvic health physiotherapist during pregnancy
Again, hindsight being 20/20 I wish I knew enough to visit a pelvic health PT during pregnancy. I don’t know that I could have totally prevented having a c-section, but I think pelvic floor issues played a part in my birth not progressing.
It wasn’t until close to a year postpartum that I really began learning about the pelvic floor and what an important role it plays. To this day I’m amazed that there is still so little education around it for women in pregnancy and postpartum!
That was the major reason I felt so compelled to focus on postpartum health and fitness when I started my coaching business. Never in my 20+ years of being in the health and fitness industry did any of my trainings, certifications, or continuing education address the specific needs of pregnancy and postpartum women!
Even today, it’s not a readily available benefit for all. For most women, it involves jumping through a lot of insurance hoops, expensive co-pays, and just paying out-of-pocket. Hopefully, as it becomes more apparent that pregnant and postpartum women deserve more of their healthcare, pelvic health PT will become as routine as going to your OB visits! (cross your fingers)
4. Things happen at the right time for you
Not to sound like a cliché, but I really think it’s true that things will happen for you when they’re meant to happen. For me, I think I was meant to be an older mom so that I’d be in the exact right time and place in my life to fully appreciate and embrace mom life.
5. It’s ok to lower your expectations
The comparison trap is real! It’s so easy to look at other moms who seem like they have everything together and feel like you’re behind. We also put so much pressure on ourselves as moms thinking that we have to do it all and be everything to everybody all of the time. But that’s the quickest way to burn yourself out and beat yourself up for it.
Before having a baby, I was the “my kids won’t be eating chicken nuggets and french fries for every meal” person. I was the “as soon as I get the all-clear at 6 weeks, I’ll be back to working out” person.
Aaaand, then I actually had a baby.
I quickly found out that some days literally feel like all you can do is survive the day.
So by lowering my expectations, I wasn’t making myself feel like a complete failure every day and actually started celebrating the small wins. Woohoo!
Are you a later-in-life mom? I’d love to hear what lessons you’ve learned about yourself or motherhood! Share in the comments 🙂