Claire Hegarty B writes an honest and warm hearted blog about her experiences of being a first time mum over forty, fortysomethingfirsttimemum. Motherhood, writing and yoga saved her from being dragged kicking and screaming into midlife!
HOW I BECAME AN OLDER MOTHER
I never really expected to become an older mum. Indeed, I never really expected to become a mum at all. As far back as I can remember, I was against the idea. I equated being a mum with being trapped. I watched my parents struggle with five children and I saw how my mother had no life beyond that. Back then, I thought that it wasn’t fair that women were the ones to make most of the sacrifices. I felt that it wasn’t fair that just because it was assumed that a woman could produce that she should produce. I also thought the whole process of childbirth was humiliating for women and hated the fact that men were physically unscathed.
When, as a young girl, some of my peers became pregnant, I was horrified at how their lives changed. I was horrified to see how their freedom disappeared. I was even more horrified that the men in the equation seemed to get off scot free. I became even more determined this was not going to happen to me.
I shunned the idea of motherhood right through my twenties and most of my thirties. I partied and careered my life away, not a care in the world. Even after I met my husband and got married at the age of 34, I balked at the whole idea.
You can imagine my shock then, when at around the age of 38, my whole outlook changed. I started to take an interest in other people’s children. I even ogled babies on the street, stopping people to have a peek. My brothers were speechless when I started offering to babysit for them. Up until that point, nobody had ever asked me as they knew I wasn’t a child friendly zone!
We started trying for a baby, assuming that all would go our way. But after three years of trying, resulting in miscarriage, no baby came along. After I hit 40, I thought that was probably it for me. That is what my mother thought and I remember someone saying to me that now that I had hit the big 40, I should forget the whole idea. I was sad but decided that maybe motherhood was just not in my life’s journey. Maybe it just wasn’t on my path and maybe it just wasn’t meant for me. After all, I had spent so many years shunning motherhood, my body was probably just complying with what it thought I had wanted.
We never considered going through IVF because we had seen the results on the relationships of others. We had seen how it totally consumed lives and the devastation that followed when it was unsuccessful. I knew myself too well to put myself through that. So amazingly, when I was 41 and discovered I was pregnant, I was incredulously happy. I was three months into it before I even realised my condition. I had lost track of my cycle because the whole idea was then so far from my mind. I had no symptoms of pregnancy and apart from a little heartburn, sailed through most of the nine months.
Then, as it came near to my due date, all my old fears returned to the fore. I became panicked about the whole physical aspect of things. I had seen quite a few people who had gone through hours of labour only to have an emergency C-section right at the end. The fear of actual labour became overwhelming and resulted in a panic attack at the hospital. It was at this stage, and given my age, that my doctor suggested I go straight for the C-section rather than have the trauma of labour. This calmed some of my fears, and three months off my 42nd birthday, our beautiful son was delivered.
Parenthood over forty opened up a whole new world to me, a world that I didn’t consider I would ever be part of. Sometimes, I felt a little lonely when most of the other mothers I met were at least ten years younger than me. I had met another fortysomething mum-to-be at ante natal classes who went on to have a boy two weeks before me. We are good friends now and so are our little boys. I also set up a blog to connect with other older mums and before long, I made loads of new friends. It turned out that I got to know mothers of all ages through this, not just older first time mums like me.
I sometimes get comments about being selfish or being extremely brave for having a child in my forties. I don’t think I am either and even after having him, we tried for more. Sadly, it seems this dear wish is not to be. Just because we are older, doesn’t mean that we are going to get ill and die before a younger parent would. Indeed, we are fitter and healthier than quite a lot of younger parents that I see around today. And as my dear mother always says ‘You don’t have to be old to die’