As a 7 month pregnant 37 year old woman, I am of 'advanced maternal age', or clinically classified as a 'geriatric mother'.
As I gave birth to Max, our first born, at 35 years old this is not my first geriatric pregnancy, so it's not a new term to me and now I find it more comical than anything else. It was a somewhat different scenario however, when I first heard it. I was trying on maternity swimwear in a changing cubical and overheard two young girls discussing a 'geriatric' person they knew's pregnancy. What was this geriatric pregnancy business, I immediately got my phone out and googled....
I can't deny it, on reading the description I did feel somewhat offended - ‘come on I know I’m old(er), but I’m not thaaaat old am I?!'
There are a number of reasons as to why I didn't have children younger. I was at university in New Zealand completing my PhD until my late 20s, and then work opportunities took me across the world - firstly to France and then here to the UK. I had long term relationships during that time and once I reached my early 30s there were the comments from friends and family, asking when we were going to have children and one person even going as far as saying 'you shouldn't wait much longer'.
But it wasn't the right time, nor the right person and thank goodness no small humans were brought into the world during that time.
I met my husband, and father to my children, Stefan, when I was 33. Until the day we met I'd never really bought into the whole soul mate bizzle. However, on meeting I knew immediately that I'd met my match, my life partner. And he felt exactly the same. We planned a future together, as adults and as equals, and I can't thank my lucky stars enough for not having settled earlier for anything but the best.
Fortunately for us, we've not had any challenges with getting pregnant. In fact, it happened almost a little too quickly the first time, and I went through a period of mourning my G&Ts and red wine. Nights out just weren't the same without them....
It's no secret that there are different risks associated with being an older mother - a higher risk of diabetes, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, miscarriage, and your baby having Down’s Syndrome. It can be lot to get your head, and heart, around.
But many friends my age have had their first children as a 'geriatric' without any issues and I've found that there are also significant benefits with having children later in life. Particularly for my hubby and I:
- We’ve had time to grow as individuals and would hope that we both have greater emotional intelligence and stability
- We’ve had time to build our careers and have (somewhat) greater financial stability as to when we were younger
- We’ve also had more than our fair share of ‘living’ (working, travelling, partying etc), so felt ready to transfer our energy into building a home and having a family.
Although never having been an exceptionally maternal person myself, I always knew I wanted to have children. Having Max really has been the most incredible and exceptional experience. I love being his mum more than anything in the world and can't wait to meet his little brother.
Because of all the above, when having children as a 'geriatric', I really don’t feel I’ve lost anything of myself at all, only gained.
.... well apart from maybe sleep that is......