When I was 29, my husband (then boyfriend) and I found ourselves unexpectedly expecting. My pregnancy, while healthy, was just uncomfortable and was followed by a complicated 55-hour birthing ordeal that ended in a c-section. My beautiful son, all 10 pounds of him, joined us as we dug into our careers and navigated early parenthood.
I relished having an only child. I loved our one-on-one time and together we had all the adventures our city, Chicago, could offer. But as my son approached fifth grade and I approached 40, I started to realize I wasn’t quite done with having kids. I liked the crafts and the story times and the snuggles. My husband needed a little convincing—we had no baby gear anymore. Our friends all had big kids. We were just getting to the point where we could go places alone again. Oh—and we were OLD. These were all valid concerns. But he loves babies, so at the end of the day, we figured we’d try and leave it up to fate.
It took a while, but we’re welcoming our son into the world this spring. In the meantime, I had to get past some of the lies I believed about being pregnant over 40.
That my joints couldn’t handle it
I’m not sure exactly where this thought came from, but I feel like I read several articles implying older bodies would basically cave under the pressure of pregnancy. Now, I’m an active yogi who still plays softball, and I haven’t noticed my body feeling any more or less uncomfortable than I did 14 years ago. In fact, I’ve been more active this pregnancy—like so many COVID shut-ins, we got a Peloton I use almost daily. Does that mean I have zero issues? Nope—I can assure you I have heartburn and hemorrhoids and I nap a lot—but all within the realm of average.
That I or the baby would have a bunch of medical issues
Most everything regarding pregnancy is terrifying. What to eat or not eat. Which tests to get or not get. Is my bath water too hot? But add in “advanced maternal age” and things get serious really quick. The internet will give you a million reasons to freak out. And doctors aren’t a ton better. It means they’ll monitor you more closely (way more ultrasounds) but we’ve had zero issues. My blood pressure is fine. I don’t have gestational diabetes and the baby is supremely healthy (although on track to be another 10-pounder). You absolutely can have a perfectly healthy, completely average pregnancy over 40.
That I was a rarity
The town I live in has an amazing Facebook group full of working moms. Thousands of moms come together to vent, ask advice and network—it’s been an absolute lifesaver. While trying to get pregnant I decided to ask if anyone in the group got pregnant over 40. Hundreds of women responded. Many used IVF, many didn’t. One woman’s mother-in-law got pregnant at 50 (surprise!) and delivered a healthy baby. I certainly wasn’t alone. However, let’s be honest, our culture is pretty youth-obsessed. We are not at the point where we’re seeing a lot of pregnant models over 30 (and I haven’t seen any I’d place over 40) when it comes to sites selling maternity clothes. With more and more women getting pregnant later in life, I’m hoping that will change.
That I wouldn’t second-guess my choices
I am beyond thrilled to be pregnant. I really am—we all are. My 13-year-old even became a certified babysitter so he can be the world’s best big brother. But, just before the pandemic, we all went to Paris. And before that, we took a road trip from Portland to LA. And before that we spent a few days seeing shows on Broadway and eating in fancy restaurants. The three of us love to travel together and it’s obviously only gotten easier as my teen has grown. So, yes, sometimes I feel a little sad that our trip to Alaska is probably going to need to wait. But I also know that with three sets of hands instead of two, we might be back on the road in no time.
That people would be weird
I really thought people would react poorly to the news that I was pregnant. A couple years ago there was an article floating around about a woman in India who’d used IVF to get pregnant at a very advanced age and my social media feed was filled with people calling her selfish and a million other things. Most of my close girlfriends are either without kids by choice or very done having children. However, I’ve experienced nothing but joy, love and support from both my friends and family. Even as I joke about my fear of getting called my son’s “grandma” and being 20 years older than the parents of his potential friends, they remind me that my hard-earned parental wisdom and increased patience will be a boon.
And, bonus: they all actually want to hold a baby again, so as soon as this pandemic is over, he’ll be very heavily doted on.