Category Archives: Your Stories

Catching The Bus

Sarah Dawnay writes at The Pretty Good Life, a blog about her life as a parent of two. She gave birth to her first child aged 36, and second aged 41. She has a big red bus in her front garden! Here, she talks about the differences between both her pregnancies.



mother with babyWe have a Routemaster in the garden. It is seriously old, rather large, yet if you appreciate a design classic, it is beautiful. The thing about buses is that you think that you leave the house on time, but once you get to the bus stop you wait for ever, when finally the bus arrives, it powers across London more efficiently than any Ferrari. The bus analogy would be better if I had triplets, but it still gives you an idea of my life as an older mum.

We got married when I was 32, then after a few years thought that it was ‘time’. I was relaxed as I knew that it could take a while before we heard the patter of feet, but even so after a year I was concerned. A visit to the specialists dictated that I loose weight: I was over weight (but by no means obese). I am not sure if it was the weight loss or the associated ultra healthy lifestyle, but the consultant said loose a stone and bingo, it was as simple as that, aged 35 I was finally pregnant. It was bound to happen, I had just got my dream job setting up and running a new high profile organisation.

I loved my pregnancy and felt great,  if exhausted. We attended both hypnobirthing and NCT classes and I was ready for the perfect home birth. Then my blood pressure decided to play havoc with my plans; I ended up with a failed induction and an emergency Caesarian. I am not sure if my age (then 36) and high stress job had contributed to my pre-eclampsia but it had certainly helped me focus on my daughter not on her wayward arrival.

After a couple of years it was time to give the Pickle a sibling. I thought it would be easy, but the heartache was about to begin. I had a series of early miscarriages then nothing. We went back to the consultant and I was not eligible for IVF on the NHS, besides, having heard the gruesome stories I was unsure if I could go through it. Discouraged, I felt that we had run out of palatable options. To make matters worse I was on a deadline, the Hubster confirmed that he was fully mortal and that any babies should be born while he was still in his forties.

Our 90th birthday came and went, in a blaze of live music and bunting, celebrating his 50th and my 40th Birthdays. Still no sibling for the Pickle. Rationale told me that I was lucky, I had a wonderful daughter and husband that I adore – but inside I was a mess. I was struggling to mourn the miscarriages in a society when acknowledgment is not the done thing and I felt barren – a lesser class of woman.

By now desperate to give it one last chance we went back to the consultant; he suggested course of clomid to try to help me ovulate.  Still, my body did not kick into action. Finally, as we were seriously considering IVF – despite our ages, the cost and the side effects – the Nursing Sister offered me a flimsy lifeline. She gave me a hormone injection that could work, but it was rated so dismissively by the consultant that he equated it to unscientific witchery. Scientific or not, it worked, I was pregnant aged 40!

At 20 weeks we were hauled in front of the consultant – it felt like the parental equivalent of being sent to the Head Master’s office. She peered over her spectacles and reached for her diary to book me in for a Caesarian at exactly 40 weeks.

Thanks in part to my long daily dog walks, I stayed healthy and my blood pressure behaved. 40 weeks came and went and I was ‘allowed’ to see if I could wait for a natural birth. Age again started to make decisions for me. To go over 42 weeks gestation as a 41 year old  would have greatly increased the odds of having a still born. So after numerous uncomfortable sweeps – DB was firmly holding onto the birthing brakes – I was booked in for a planned Caesarian. DB was born, a healthy boy, and I fell in love again.

There are definite pros and cons to being older parents. I did worry about having a Downs baby, but I was not brave enough to take any of the screening tests. It can feel dispiriting being older than some grandparents at the school gate, and i can get caught out scoffing at the latest celeb Dad in his mid 50’s only to realise my own hypocrisy. But with age can come wisdom. I spent my twenties going out, so staying in and looking after children is a refreshing change and a joy, not a bind. I’m old enough to appreciate the difference between real friends and lovely acquaintances with whom the only thing I have in common is children of the same age. It has been physically tougher throughout the pregnancy and birth, but I am much more self aware than I was in my twenties and I (almost) never take my children for granted,  I laugh lots and and judge less and that works for me.

Ultimately I have the miles on the clock, a few grey hairs and I couldn’t tell the difference between One Direction and a street sign, but I really don’t feel old. As I said, I left at the right time, the bus arrived a little late, but we are happily enjoying our very personal and special journey.

Sarah Dawnay on Twitter

Charlie’s Adventures in Baby Land

Charlie Plunkett is a published author and mother to a lovely little boy, Cole, who is the subject of her book about her pregnancy, The True Diary of a Mum-to-be, a pregnancy companion, as well as a sequel charting the amazing first year of motherhood, The True Diary of Baby’s First Year , a mothering companion. She has also compiled a beautiful book about parenthood with the help of some amazing contributors titled 100 Little Words on Parenthood.



older mother with son

I met my future husband and father-to-be of our gorgeous son over 20 years ago. We knew we were destined to be together but he is certainly not one to rush into things, hence we had been living together as a couple for 13 years before he popped the big question.

We were married, twice! The legal ceremony was held in Vegas followed by a whirlwind honeymoon around America and a romantic blessing in the beautiful seaside resort of Brighton, England.

As soon as the wedding photographs had been framed we started trying for a family and that was when our adventures in Baby Land began…

Honestly I don’t think either of us had a clue back then of quite how bumpy the road to parenthood would be. I had very misguided ideas about pregnancy and birth – hardly surprising as I missed all the sex education classes at school as they coincided with my violin lessons, which was a shame as they would have been far more useful!

We were elated to discover after a few months of baby-making practice that I was pregnant but totally devastated when at 6 weeks I sadly had a miscarriage. Months and months passed and comments from my osteopath through to news reports on the TV saying a woman of my age (37) had geriatric genes did nothing to boost my hopes.

Out of the blue, some 7 months later those beautiful blue lines appeared on my test stick.  I was over the moon but my happiness was tinged with apprehension after my previous experience. We kept my pregnancy quiet and were looking forward to the 12 week scan and sharing our news with family. Sadly we did end up giving them news but it wasn’t what we had been hoping to share with them, when at 12 weeks I had another miscarriage. It turned out that the baby had stopped developing at around 6 weeks.  This was such a terrible experience and left me feeling that my dreams of becoming a mother would never come true. On a positive note it brought me and my husband even closer to each other, united in our grief and disappointment.

As the saying goes ‘third time lucky’ and 6 months later we were pregnant again. I gave up my job immediately (I strongly felt that my 2nd miscarriage had been caused by my poor work environment) and we set the wheels in motion to move to our dream location, Brighton (where we had been married, what felt like an eternity ago).

My pregnancy was wonderful, yes I had a few queasy moments, my sense of smell went into overdrive and I suffered heartburn most evenings but I was so grateful to be experiencing pregnancy these minor ailments fizzed into nothing. I ate healthily, maintained my vegan diet (my biggest craving was for salad with tahini dressing, how decadent!) I went to pregnancy yoga classes, which despite being a trained dancer I was terrible at. My growing bump with our baby we nicknamed ‘Pear’ just wouldn’t allow me to get into the positions, but I religiously attended right up to my due/guess date. We also went to Hypnobirthing classes and found a wonderful doula to be with us at ‘Pears’ birth.

Week 41 ‘Pear’ made his grand entrance at home, as we had dreamt of, surrounded by love. The Hypnobirthing course enabled us to have the confidence to stick to our guns to have a home-birth, despite the fact that for a few hours it looked as though it would be without a midwife! It did also live up to the promise of releasing me from the fear, pain syndrome and throughout my baby’s birth I had no medical intervention.  I listened to my Hypnobirthing CD on a loop while in our birthing pool with my husband and doulas supporting me, fuelled on travel sweets and vegan yogurt!

Cole Jayden was born one minute before 7 pm on 29th July weighing a hearty 9Ibs 5oz and from that moment on he has blessed our lives so completely. That’s not to say it was all plain sailing, we had breastfeeding difficulties resulting from him having tongue-tie. It was easily fixed for him thankfully, but for my poor boobs it wasn’t until he was 9 weeks that I had a turning point and was able to get fully dressed without wincing.

As I write this Cole is now an adorable 4 ½ year old and started full-time at school this week, not a day passes without him doing something to make me smile and feel so proud. I’m going to be 44 this year which means I could be mistaken for his grandma and not his mummy, but for us parenthood arrived at the perfect time. We’ve had lovely careers; both of us were professional dancers traveling the world in our twenties. Our thirties were spent on film sets and for 7 years I was the principal teacher at a performing arts school. I feel that I fulfilled my dancing career in my youth and now I’m older I’m contented and blessed to be Cole’s mummy.  I may be older but I’m also wiser, I don’t begrudge my time spent with him in fact I consider it a privilege to be his mummy. He makes me feel young as I relive my childhood with him. Skipping down the street with his little hand in mine, watching him play with his daddy and snuggling up in bed together for a story each night is sweet perfection.

Charlie Plunkett on Twitter