Are You Too Old to Have a Baby After 40?
Yes, I'm an older mom, and yes, I'm tired—but I've never been better prepared for motherhood than I am now.
Boy I hope not. I just turned 40 and out of my three children, the oldest is four, so you can do the math. But a recent piece on The Huffington Post is getting a lot of attention, and not necessarily the good kind, because a “mother of advanced maternal age” admitted that even though she sought out fertility treatments to make it happen, now she’s over 40 with a toddler and struggling. I hear her, but I feel the opposite way.
Stacie Krajchir, who wrote this very honest post, is also the founder of The See and Sprout Project, an art therapy program originally created to help the children of the 2004 Asian tsunami and has since reached needy children in countries all over the world. This is a woman with a vision. So when Krajchir describes going through the infertility gamut with three hopeful pregnancies all followed by miscarriages, fibroid surgery and finally a fertility procedure called IUI (aka “turkey basting”) you can feel her determination. The IUI was a success, but a little surprisingly, one thing had not truly registered at the time: She’d have her first, and only, baby at 42.
And therein lie the first couple of problems.
She feels too old, she says, too out of energy to wrangle a 20-month-old in her mid-40s. Also, as an older parent, the chances that she and her husband will leave her son alone in his early adulthood are higher than some of his friends, and there’s not enough time to give him a sibling. Now comes the obvious question: Why didn’t this occur to her before? She said there were warning signs, that Mother Nature was politely trying to steer her in other directions, but she couldn’t be dissuaded. Well, that too is Mother Nature for you. Most women are hard-wired with the urge to have babies. We just are.
Now I can’t know much about Krajchir’s life and her true story from just this post, but I DO know that it’s hard to raise a toddler. I feel tired for sure, but I also know that EVERY mom feels tired with kids at this age. I challenge any mom of any decade to say she feels light on her feet with a baby who’s about to turn 2. And if I could have coffee with this author, I’d also tell her that the first kid will rock your world because that one little person creates a massive life change by 100 percent. She’s feeling that. But the impact of each baby after that is less, in a way. If you’re already working your day around nap time, what’s another small fry in the house? Now you’ve got a chance to use those hand-me-downs and never underestimate the power of a built-in play date. In some ways, it’s almost easier—but that’s not an option for her anyway.
When I think about my own setup, my own family and my own advanced maternal age, ahem, I’m beyond grateful. I really am, and the moment these kids are big enough to get the full picture they will be too. In my 20s I would have been a lousy mom, in fact I can’t even imagine having a husband. (Hats off to single moms because you are incredible, but in my case, I need one to make this whole thing work.) Overly emotional, silly about money (in fact totally broke) and dying to start a successful publishing career, I would’ve been the worst.
By my 31st birthday, I was a VP in New York City and had at least met my now husband, but that career thing made it hard for us to stay put in one place long enough to make our relationship official. He was in Europe, I was all over the place. But we were doing, striving and achieving. That’s what mattered to me at that age and I’m blissfully aware of how those experiences have shaped me as a mom today. Here’s what I’ll say to my kids when they want to chase dreams of their own, “Think about what would be amazing, what seems out-of-reach because it’s so dang cool. Now go do it.” I only know something like that is possible because I’ve had the chance to do it.
So yes, I’ve had time to achieve a few life dreams (become a VP of a major media company, run the NYC Marathon, move to Europe), and now I’m a part-time consultant and food blogger who mostly wrestles three kids in and out of car seats all week. I guess I’m tired, but honestly, I don’t remember being a ball of energy in my earlier days either. When it comes to parenting, this is my time. This is the season and I’ve never been better prepared.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN