The phrase, “I’m too old for this” kept looping through my mind as I was lumbering about heavily pregnant at 41 with my fourth child.
My first children (identical twin boys) were born when I was 30 and my third son when I was 33 still full of energy with no gray hair. When I made it through the first trimester and posted the pregnancy news on Facebook I quickly noticed the, “You’re crazy!” and “Are you SERIOUS?!?” responses far outweighed those offering congratulations. Maybe this was a bad idea. Things had recently hit a nice stride with the three older boys who were more independent and even getting their own breakfast in the morning. Were we totally nuts to hit the reset button and trade this period of life to go back to sleepless nights, diapers and teething on PURPOSE? Not really and here’s why:
1 | Family Is Priceless
At the end of my pregnancy, my very athletic 71-year-old father who jogged almost every day and ran road races had a stroke which crystalized the importance of family and why we were doing this. Both my husband and I come from extremely small families and felt good knowing that our boys would have each other no matter what life threw at them. Friends are the family you choose but real family cannot be replaced. I kept thanking God for this baby I was carrying as it was one of the things that kept my dad motivated to recover. He wanted to meet his newest grandson!
2 | Statistics Shamistics
Surely it’s a gamble to have a baby later in life as pregnancy is considered higher risk and the risk of genetic disorders increases but getting in your car every day and walking across the street is a gamble too. I had a child with special needs when I was 30 so I didn’t pay much attention to the statistics of what could happen with this child because we knew we would love him no matter what.
Of course educate yourself, discuss it with your doctor and be aware of the risks but don’t let a “what if?” prevent you from having the family you want.
3 | A “Geriatric Pregnancy” Isn’t Really
I’ll admit that the pregnancy with my fourth was far more punishing on my body than my twin pregnancy 10 years before and that’s saying something as carrying twins was no picnic. It could have been because I had three other kids in the house when, with my first pregnancy, it was just me, hubs and our cats. I had two previous C-sections, one due to preeclampsia with my twins and one due to many hours of pushing with my third son and the hospital wouldn’t let me continue as I had reached their time limit for the pushing phase. With my fourth son, I had an unmedicated VBA2C homebirth at age 41. There is nothing geriatric about that!
4 | Age Difference?
I feared with a 10 ½ and seven year difference between this baby and his older brothers they might not connect with him or worse, resent him as it would curb their lives. The twins would be freewheeling teens when this one was in preschool. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The joy, fun and wonder this child has brought to his brothers and vice versa is beyond what we ever could have imagined. When one of my twins held him for the first time he beamed and said, “Mom, he is going to be my best friend” and he is. What 14-year-old shares a room with a 3-year-old, by choice? They are pretty inseparable and I love listening to them chat in their room at night, one from his crib to the other in his cool teen IKEA bed.
5 | The Sibling Bond Is Strong
Almost immediately after birth our son recognized his brothers’ voices and often responded more strongly to them than he did to me or my husband. He had colic and they could often soothe him when I couldn’t. They helped to feed, bathe and even change his diapers and I got to see glimpses of the fathers they might be someday. We felt bonded with the older boys in a unique way as he was collectively “our” little guy and his tantrums were something we all had to deal with (and laugh at!) not just me and my husband. The boys love to play with him, take him for walks and in a couple of years they will be able to DRIVE him places. They get a kick out of him and he adores and worships them in return.
Pregnant at 41
Nothing truly meaningful in life comes easy and without some sacrifice. As challenging as having a baby in my 40’s with older kids in the house has been, I would never change it. Changing pull-ups while chaperoning middle school dances? That’s how we roll.