“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>