If you had asked me when I was a young career girl just setting out in the world whether I would be having a baby in my forties, I would probably have told you absolutely not. Despite this, I had my children at 43 and 45 (I'm now 52) and I know that I have been extremely lucky.
My grandmother had a child at 45 so, whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to being able to have children later in life, I'm still aware that I managed the best feat of my life just in time.
Can you have a baby in your forties?
What was surprising was just how long it took. Despite being in my 40's I somehow thought that conception would be nothing short of immaculate and, when it took over a year, I found myself reading numerous books on improving your fertility the natural way and taking my temperature every morning to track ovulation.
My temperature never seemed to budge. Tracking the 'ten most fertile days' made sex (or iggly boo as one of my stranger friends calls it) about as exciting as cardboard.
I suffer an early miscarriage
I lost my first child at approximately 6-7 weeks. The charmless consultant gynaecologist we saw made it clear that he viewed this miscarriage as nothing more than a missed period. "You can hang on to see if there's a heartbeat", he told us, "or we'll have you in and whip it out". A managed miscarriage at home was the option we eventually took, wanting to see if the initial scans were wrong. They weren't.
|Caitlin, born 2007|
Caitlin was born the following November. And then, the October before Caitlin's 1st Birthday, Ieuan was conceived. Having waited so long for Caitlin, we assumed it would take a couple of years to give her a sibling. I should have listened to my wonderful midwife who told me that once you have had a child, it's as if your motor starts to work properly, and that I shouldn't be surprised if it didn't take long.
We were aware of the risks of late pregnancy. I had a nuchal translucency scan with Caitlin and amniocentesis with Ieuan. What we would have done in the event of any genetic problems, I still couldn't tell you.
Why didn't I do it sooner?
I have friends older than me who have had children at an equally late age. I also have quite a few friends in their mid thirties who think that they have all the time in the world to reproduce, when the truth is, the clock is ever ticking. Some of my friends must look at me and think "well, SHE did it" but it's easy to kid yourself isn't it.
I regret not having had my children at least ten years ago. In the end, my career (as a Marketing Manager and later Director) simply could not match up to the joy of having kids but I didn't meet my husband until I was 41.
This is the dilemma facing many women. Do we put our heart and soul into a career and hope that Mr Right will just come along, by which time we may no longer be fertile or able to carry a child? Or do we pursue a partner and children whilst we are still in our most fertile years, hoping that we can resume our education and career when the children are in school?
Can Women Ever "Have It All"?
I am a great fan of the late Helen Gurley Brown (who, with her husband, created the Cosmopolitan magazine empire) and read her book "Having it All" (still available from Amazon) from cover to cover in my early twenties. Helen believed the sky was the limit - primarily in terms of work and sex, but I think most women will agree that, today, "having it all" is an impossibility. That said, I'd still recommend Helen's work just to admire her incredible work ethic and zest for life.
I'm now faced with the prospect of staying as fit, healthy and mentally 'young' as possible. Not so much because I worry about the opinion of other mothers (although I'd be lying if I said I was totally immune to it), but for the sake of my children. As Hubby says "well, we just can't conk out early"....
Whatever our decision, we have to live with the consequences - but my two 'consequences' are pretty wonderful.