Some days I wonder what my life would be like if I had my babies when I was in my 20s, like the majority of my friends. Would I have had more energy? Or fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans sooner? Would I have been able to go on as many adventures as I did when I was in my 20s, get a Master's Degree, or establish my career?
And what about if I waited to have a baby in my 40s? Would I be even more tired than I am now —having had my last child at 38 — or have the wisdom to view even the biggest parenting hurdles as no big deal? It's clear that there are pros and cons to having a baby at any age, but as more and more parents decide to wait until their 40s to start their families I have to wonder what that particular experience is like. In my many conversations with the older mom crowd (of which I consider myself to be part of), I've learned that having a baby in your 40s is pretty much like any having a baby anytime... you're just equipped with a little more life experience.
As an "older" mom you have the added benefit of knowing more about yourself and being able to have a couple of decades of adulthood under your proverbial belt before being responsible for raising other humans. Sure, sometimes it feels odd to be the oldest mom in the pick-up line at school and, yes, your energy reserve is lacking the older you get. I don't appreciate being told how old I'll be when my kids eventually graduate high school, either. But when to have a child is a pretty monumental decision (if you decide to have one at all), and what works for one family won't always work for another.
So with that in mind, here's what having a baby in your 40s was like for seven moms who've been there and done that:
"I had my only child at 41. It has actually been quite fun. I do feel like I had the best of both worlds. I was able to work, travel, and spend time with my hubby for 11 years before we conceived. Adding a child to our life at this time of our lives has not been hard at all. He's found his place and just fits in with whatever we're doing. So, there's this comfortable-ness, that we may not have had if we had conceived earlier, or really early in our marriage."
"My one and only was born two months before I turned 42. The pregnancy was surprisingly easy, considering how big a deal people make about 'advanced maternal age.'
I'm glad I lived a lot before having a child, so I don't feel like I missed anything, and have perspective and experience I can share with my child."
"I was very 'old' for my conservative Midwestern state and family (although in my larger city things are changing a bit).
I honestly don't think my pregnancy or childbirth experiences were that different, medically, than others'. While my records officially showed me as of 'advanced maternal age' (or worse, 'geriatric pregnancy'), my treatment wasn't much different. I was monitored closely for fetal development and fluid level, but that was it. I had one pesky OB-GYN who gave me a harsh 'your baby could die [if you don't have enough ultrasounds]' during a routine ultrasound, during which everything looked perfectly healthy, but other than that my care was totally fine.
I think parenting has been a bit harder, because I was set in my ways and had experienced lots of freedom before having kids. Now, I'm at the whim of someone else all day every day. Although I do feel I am slightly wiser than I was 15 years ago, so maybe that is a benefit. Overall, I think my experience has been a great one and I hope that folks who are considering starting a family when they're older do allow themselves that option. Don't let society tell you the timeline you need to have."
"I had my oldest child at age 42, and twins four days before my 46th birthday. Sometimes, I feel a little awkward because some of the moms of kids my kids' ages are 15 years younger than me. But for the most part that hasn’t been an issue. I’ve been able to make mom friends online.
I’m glad I waited because I was able to do a lot of cool things before having kids. For example, I traveled and had different kinds of jobs. So, I’ll never look back and feel like I didn’t get to do fun things in my 20s. At the same time, it does make me a little sad that I probably won’t get the opportunity to meet my great grandchildren."
"I was 40 when I had my third baby (36 and 38 with the other two). I am sure there are advantages to having babies when you are younger, but I have liked being an older mom. I already did a lot of things I wanted to. I traveled, established a career, and enjoyed big adventures. My husband (six years older than me) and I were ready for kids, too. We had more savings, more patience, and more work flexibility than when we were younger.
I also had more experience with kids. I was a nanny, and my friends and family had kids. So, I was able to learn a lot and be the 'fun aunt' before I had my own children. The downsides? We are older and have less energy. I worry we won't be around when our kids are our age. But, then again, we very well may be."
"I had my second child at 41. I was high-risk and went to so many doctor appointments. My first was premature so we were very careful. I had to switch perinatologists because the first one scolded me for getting pregnant 'at your age.'
I now have a healthy 7-year-old, sassy girl, but man am I tired. My mother was a grandmother at this age. Also, because I am almost always the oldest mom at the playgroup, the younger moms think I'm like Yoda and have some special wisdom to impart. Seriously, I'm just trying to stay awake longer than the kids."