Looking back, I never envisioned myself being a first-time mom in my 40s, much less having twins at age 42. I had a very demanding career and was preoccupied with all that comes along with it. I was even at a point in my life where I thought I would be OK with not having children and instead focusing my efforts on nurturing my career. Of course that all changed when I married at age 39, and we mutually agreed that having a family was a priority. Needless to say things didn’t go as planned and we had to wait, but I feel I handled the disappointments and road blocks well for the most part. Maybe age played a role in my ability to be patient and forge ahead, which actually sounds funny to me now since it was my age that prevented me from getting pregnant in the first place.
Despite the fact that my efforts to bring them into this world were very much intentional and a tremendous amount of forethought went in to what would happen after they arrived, I have learned that I was not ready for many of the other realties of motherhood. My path to becoming a mother was anything but conventional, so I guess I should have expected that my motherhood would be just as unconventional. Although I am constantly learning new things about life and myself now that I am a mother, here are a few truths that I am certain of thus far…
I am having trouble relating to younger moms.
Although motherhood after 40 is becoming more common, the fact remains that we are still in the minority–especially for first time moms after 40. Now that my twins are toddlers and becoming more social, I am starting to notice the differences between myself and my younger mother counterparts. I feel that I really don’t relate to them, which may be due to our age differences, my own insecurities, our different places in life or a combination of all of these factors.
I also think my job plays a role in my difficulties relating to and bonding with younger moms. I can easily go from a level of 12/10 at work to 2/10 at home out of choice and necessity. I learned early on that I could not and would not maintain that level of intensity once I left those hospital doors, so I switch gears as soon as I step foot inside my home. As a result, my frame of reference for conversation topics is somewhat limited because my life has revolved around my career for so long. I find that no one really wants to hear about my day at work, and I find it difficult to participate in conversation about things that may seem trivial to me after what I see and experience with my job.
Prior to having children, I lived in this vacuum created by my career and was just fine with the few close friends that I made over the past several years. Now, at age 44, I am realizing that I simply need to learn how to interact with and relate to the other moms I meet outside of work who have very different lives and interests than I do. This has proven difficult for me so far. Finding things to talk about can be difficult; I can only talk about parenting-related topics for so long.
They say that it is very important for your toddlers to be socialized, but my toddlers are doing just fine. It is me that needs to be socialized! I have recognized that this aspect of my motherhood may in fact be one of the most challenging for me and will force me to acknowledge certain inadequacies about myself when it comes to making new mom friends. My ability to find a way to make new friends for the sake of my kids is something I know will be absolutely necessary for me to do. I consider this yet another life lesson that having babies later in life is teaching me.
My health is just as important as theirs.
I had a very challenging pregnancy. I was on hospital bedrest from 22-30 weeks and delivered a week after I went home. I didn’t gain much weight during pregnancy and lost a tremendous amount after I delivered. It has been almost two years and I am still not back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Hospital bedrest also took a physical toll on my body. That along with a difficult delivery, 8 months of pumping and returning to a demanding job has made my postpartum recovery linger.
For someone who was very active and healthy prior to pregnancy, my body and mind have taken a beating; I feel like I am still recovering from pregnancy and delivery. Because my twins were 9 weeks premature, I focused on their health and well-being so much that I sorely neglected my own. As a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, I constantly tell my patients that “a healthy mom is needed for a healthy baby”, but I am just now accepting that this also applies to me. The twins are doing well, so I think it is time to finally put myself first. I have to remind myself that it is not a selfish act, but rather a necessary one.
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am stubborn, a little O.C.D and a lot of Type A. I know what I know, trust what I know and don’t really see a reason to change much about how I do things. I have traveled the world, experienced a lot in life and feel I am very much the wiser for it. I have the tools and knowledge I need to navigate through the rest of my years.
Well…at least that was how I felt before I had babies.
Now I am singing children’s songs and playing children’s games, doing ANYTHING to make them laugh, trying to solve the mystery that is the toddler, and asking advice on things that I cannot figure out on my own. I have also found that, much to my surprise, I do have that maternal instinct, I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I am open to new ways of doing things for the benefit of my family. I expect and accept that I will need to constantly change in order to grow as a mother. I can honestly say that I am learning something new every day! This old dog has a renewed lease on life in the form of two spunky, loud, precocious toddlers who have taught me that I am not as smart and worldly as I thought I was. They have truly humbled me.
Being an older mom is a lot of what I thought it would be and a lot more of what I didn’t expect. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change anything about the path I took to get here, nor the path I am on now as I am finally finding my way. I know that I have a lot more to learn about myself and my motherhood, but I am most proud for being open to the idea of changing things about myself in order to be a better mother and human being. Being able to watch my twins grow through these 44 year-old eyes has been the most rewarding experience and biggest accomplishment in my life yet.