Here, The Founder of OnlyMums talks to Older Mum about her journey into later motherhood. OnlyMums was established in 2007, and is ‘a national on-line support and signposting service for parents who are going through or been through separation/divorce.’
BEING AN OLDER MUM
My kids are 14 (Saskia) and 2 (Reuben) and I am 46. The maths will tell you I had both my kids later on in my life. Both were planned and my pregnancies for each child were lovely, their births however we’re not the same!
Having Reuben was something I never expected. I would’ve had four kids if I had had my way but the choices I made earlier in my life meant that it was not to be. I had a beautiful daughter and as far as I was concerned there would be no more. But, as the saying goes, you never know what is around the corner!
My relationship with Saskia’s father fell apart and I made a choice to be on my own for several years in order to get myself together and to ensure Saskia had a stable and secure home environment. And then one day I meet Reuben’s dad and everything changed. Eventually we decided to try for a child. On one level it was an easy decision but there were many discussions and concerns that went along the lines of were we mad? Irresponsible? Selfish?
We knew it wouldn’t be easy; I had one miscarriage which, as anyone who has had one knows, was fairly distressing. We then made the decision to give it one more go and gave ourselves a deadline of December, we got there and nothing. So, we headed off for a weekend treat resigned to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen for us and what do you know? A miracle, Reuben was conceived.
My pregnancy was lovely, easy. We are great walkers so I was fit. Because of previous abdominal surgery my consultant advised me that if I hadn’t given birth naturally by a certain date that I had a c- section which is what I had in the end. When I was pregnant with my daughter I was so focused on having a natural birth and of course it didn’t happen, I had every intervention in the book and it was a very traumatic experience. With Reuben my attitude was very different; it was much more ‘what will be will be’. I felt so blessed to be pregnant that all I was concerned about was that the baby came out healthy and well.
The most difficult aspect of the pregnancy was making a decision about the amino. We made a choice not to discuss it with anyone except our consultant. In the end I had it and I knew it was the right thing to do whatever the risks. Because of our age we needed to know (as far as possible) if there were going to be any complications.
Two years on and we have this beautiful spirited little blue eyed boy who has turned our lives upside down. We both feel so incredibly lucky. I have had a fantastic life in terms of travel, I worked overseas and have done all sorts of interesting things and now I run OnlyMums which is growing fast. The point being that I don’t hanker for freedom or feel regret that I haven’t lived! We are lucky because we are both home- based with occasional travel so we juggle childcare, we do also get a bit of help as our lives a pretty full on. My fourteen year old adores Reuben and is driven mad by him too as he follows her around or decides to re- arrange her bedroom! She is brilliant with him with the added bonus of being able to babysit whenever we want to go out. The only thing she has absolutely refused to do is push him around in his buggy in case anyone thinks she might be a teenage mum!
It’s a funny thing but I don’t feel any different being a mum now than I did when I had my daughter (and I was considered an older mum then!). It is just as tiring, a different challenge for me because he is a boy. He sleeps well and always has so that side of things has been great. I am more patient and less anxious as a mum. My concerns about being older are still there, will he be teased at school? Will someone mistake me for his grandmother in front of him? What if one of us gets ill? We are in no doubt that we have all sorts of challenges ahead of us. We are also very lucky to live in an area of the country where there is quite a high percentage of older parents so it’s not unusual. But you know what, at the end of the day the important thing is he is loved, nurtured and safe. We both have big supportive families and he is wrapped up by all of them too. It is a privilege to have children at whatever age but I do feel truly blessed as we watch and share as this little boy wakes up to the world and all the wonders it has to offer.