By Tiger Tales .
I’m an expat mom, originally from Trinidad, West Indies. I now live in Greater London, England. My blog Tiger Tales is about my son, Angelo and I. He’s part Chinese-Italian part Black West Indian. He looks totally like his dad, who’s Chinese-Italian. The blog is named in honour of Angelo, as he was born in 2010 the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Some of our experiences are sometimes funny or just plain annoying. I write about my everyday life as a first-time ‘older mum’, how I engage him in early years learning chart some of his milestones, as well as writing product reviews from time to time. Baby number two is due this winter in the Year of the Dragon, so we have many interesting years ahead.
ON BEING AN OLDER MUM
Apparently when you pass 35 you fall into the category of ‘older mum’. Now that was news to me! When I conceived my baby and started reading-up on what to expect when you are expecting, birth plans, labour, I had the rude awakening. However, I accepted the label, as my 37th birthday would be two weeks after my baby’s birth date (We didn’t find out the sex of the baby). I wasn’t too put off by it, as I knew I looked great for my age and I was probably healthier and more physically fit than some 20 something year old mums. Yet still from then to now, I try my best look after myself. I have a fear of my teenaged-child being ashamed of me, if I looked more like a Nan. There is no denying that the role of mum is tough but being an older mum is even tougher, I think.
My biggest fear once I’d learnt that I’d be classified as an older mum was how I would be treated at hospital when I went into labour. I’d read horror stories in an evening newspapers that older mums are usually classified as high risk. Therefore, once they went into labour more often than not, their birth plan would not be adhered to. Thankfully, as my pregnancy progressed, I realised that I’d been classified as ‘low-risk’. I did everything within my power to stay ‘low risk’ I continued to exercise regularly up to the 5th month of pregnancy, then when that became too much I opted to take the stairs rather than the lift at work. I also walked a fair bit. I never ‘ate for two’ and I took pregnancy multivitamins. Although there was a point when my potassium level was high and I was being monitored for a few weeks, all in all my pregnancy was pretty straightforward. From the time the contractions kicked in to the time my baby was born, it was thirteen hours of pain… still, not bad for an older mum eh? Then … I had to go home with my SON…
Being older doesn’t make your brave. Suddenly at home with a young child in the middle of winter and I was VERY scared. When hubby returned to his usual work routine it was a hard time for me. For many months, I hardly went anywhere and when I did it was not alone with my son. Fear seemed to be the order of the day. I was even afraid to push my son, Angelo’s, buggy. I had no faith in my abilities. In fact I doubt that I thought I had any abilities as a mother.
Personally, I think it’s a double-whammy to be a first-time older mum and an expat. The list of ‘con’s is long but here’s my Top 5:
- Greater chance of experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression
- Near total dependence on the kindness of friends and strangers
- Exhaustion and sleep deprivation due to lack of nearby support
I’m finding coping mechanisms every day, but there are times when I do suffer from ‘mummy envy’.
Sometimes I find myself envying teenage mums. While I don’t condone teen pregnancy, I admire the courage of a teenage girl who takes on the mantle of motherhood in the face of the stigma the title brings. Provocative statement, I know. What is there to admire? Well, you hardly ever see a teen mum alone. Why is this a good thing? It would be easy to say the fact they go around in small groups just illustrates how the ‘the problem’ is growing. Perhaps this is true. I’ve not done the research so I can’t comment. However, what I do see is that they support each other. Their kids grow and play together. Given support and guidance, they have time enough correct or turnaround any errors in judgement they’ve committed. During my pregnancy in times of fear I used to think, if a teenager can do this surly I can. I’m an adult!
Because we are older it’s expected that we should be wiser. I’ve found that while the years go by and the body ages the mind doesn’t necessarily go with them. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’m sure society will be the judge of that, as in all else. I still feel young at heart and in mind. I enjoy animation programmes, I enjoy eating popcorn for lunch (sometimes) and I thoroughly enjoy kids TV. I think the benefit of being so young at heart is that I enjoy my son tremendously. We have fun. I know his loves it when I do silly things to entertain him like running around the flat with sheet for cape or bouncing in the bouncy castle with him. Yes, there are times when he looks at me with concern but he soon relaxes and joins in the silliness.
Being a mum has its challenges and as an older mum, even more so. In spite of the challenges, I’ve learnt to embrace the madness.