“The greatest gift you will ever receive is the gift of loving and believing in yourself. Guard this gift with your life. It is the only thing that will ever truly be yours.”
Tiffany Loren Rowe
There shouldn’t be–but there often is–an unfortunate stigma hanging over the heads of women who are trying to have children past the age of 40. Somewhere, somehow, someone decided that the age of 40 was the “normal cutoff” for having a family, and although even I can understand medical arguments surrounding the health of the mother and child, I argue back that, sometimes, life just doesn’t unfold in the order we’ve been taught it should. Fortunately, times are changing and people are becoming more accepting and understanding of mothers in this age range, but in certain nooks and crannies, there is still an “unspoken” harsh and hurtful judgement.
Take me, for instance. I got pregnant with my second child at the age of 40. When he passed away at almost 20 weeks, with a heavy heart, I decided to keep trying. And, I tried for three more years…almost longer. Because my first-born son wanted a sibling to play with, to grow with, to love with, and that was all that mattered in those moments. I wanted to give him what he deserved. But, that doesn’t mean that I was “deaf” to the world around me.
Like the cold winter day at the grocery store after the loss of my second child. I was standing in line for the checkout when I overheard two women talking: an older woman, maybe sixty, and a younger woman, somewhere closer to thirty. Judging by their body mechanics, their similar features and their casual chatter, I quickly assumed that they were mother and daughter.
“Did I tell you that Jessie’s pregnant?” asked the younger woman.
“What!” exclaimed the older woman. “At her age?”
“Well, come on, now. It’s hardly uncommon anymore for an older woman to get pregnant. I see it all the time…especially around here,” she added, in a lowered tone.
“But isn’t she over forty? Was it an accident?”
“She’s forty-three and, no, it wasn’t an accident. They’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time now, but it wasn’t happening so I just thought that it was over.”
“She must have done IVF.”
“Maybe. I’m not sure. I didn’t really feel comfortable asking.”
“Well, wow. That really is something,” the older woman shook her head. “I wonder if she’s thought about how much energy a new baby requires. The constant feedings, the sleepless nights. I certainly hope she can handle all of that work and still stay healthy enough to raise a young child.”
Their conversation ended as they moved forward in line to pay for their goods, but for me, the conversation had just started. How sad, and insensitive…I stewed, especially when it was doubtful that they had all the facts.
But this way of thinking was everywhere, and I knew that. A few days before this incident, my husband had come home from work in disgust after listening to a radio show in which the radio personalities had jokingly made fun of a forty-year-old actress who had suffered a miscarriage: “It couldn’t have been a shock to her, right?” the show’s host had said. “Everyone knows that the risk of miscarriage go up once you reach ‘a certain age.’ If you think about it, what the hell was she doing being pregnant at her age anyway?”
“Thank God…” I had murmured to myself, watching the two women leave the store.
Yes, thank God, that by some stroke of genius, my husband and I had remained quiet about still trying to have another child. No one knew what we were doing. Not our families. Not our friends. No one.
Which made a huge portion of our lives, and almost all our hopes and desires, a secret. And not just any old secret, but–according to most of society–it was…
…a dirty little secret.
Photos on Visualhunt.com. Photo credit: <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/author/82e0b2″>Lisa M Photography</a> on <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re/9aba5e”>Visual Hunt</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”> CC BY</a>
I was 42 when my son was born. My other3 died in misscarrages as a young woman. It took peremenopause to fortify me. I could care less what people say or think. Sure it was work taking care of a baby,but my patience was strong too. P.S. natural-no ivf,pills or other stuff.
Sorry for your early miscarriages…but so glad it finally worked out for you. I’ve never judged a woman on her age in pregnancy, which was why I was quite shocked when I found criticism and coldness out there. Nevertheless, you’re right…who cares! Hugs…
This is sad but I have known several women having babies past 40. It is hard to accept the loss of your children, and the lord has blessed you with a very, very special young man.
God is good !
Yes, I am very blessed. Thank you…🙏
As a mother of “advanced age” (the doctor’s term not mine) I have to say I took my blessing gratefully when she came. I was tired. What mother is not tired-no matter what their age?? More babies were not in the stars for us, sadly. I wish people would just remember children are a blessing- whenever and however they come. There is enough to deal with without the nattering and naysaying and judgment. It is time to strengthen the sisterhood not tear it down.
Beautiful piece and so honestly shared. It was also a great reminder to be cautious with our words. We never know who is listening. Unconscious harm is harm none the less.
Yes, it was almost comical when I went in to the doctor during my 3rd pregnancy (which ended up in a miscarriage) at age 41. The nurse, bless her heart, was VERY young and took the roll of cheerleader during the appointment, with many “Good for you!” comments related to me being pregnant at my age. Sort of unbelievable, when I think about it…an odd “out of body” sensation, with me left going…what????
So very sad that our society can be so insensitive and cruel! Becoming a mother, at any age, is a blessing and not something a woman should have to hide. I’m sorry you had to go through that, Amy. Lots of hugs my friend.
Thanks, Aga 🙂 xoxo