Category Archives: Pregnancy

4 Reasons Why Being an Old Mom Rocks and 1 Reason Why It Sucks

I was 39 when I gave birth to Harper, medically classifying me as a mother of “advanced maternal age”.   It is so nice of the medical community to not just call me “old”.  Since then I’ve had more than one woman ask me if I have regretted having children later in life.  I find this to be such an odd question because it somehow implies that I chose to have children this late in life.  Although I’m sure there are many women who actually “chose”, I did not.  My late motherhood is a product of the natural progression of my life (marriage at 30 + infertility issues + one miscarriage).  As I watch my high school friends send their children to prom and college and begin to enjoy their empty nest I’m still trying to get my last little chick to poop in the potty.  And although I sit here physically exhausted after spending the past week dealing with three children with the stomach flu I can’t imagine my life unfolding any other way.  Here are my top 4 reasons it’s awesome to be an old mom and 1 reason why it sucks.

1.) I Didn’t Give Up Anything

Our society is obsessed with the role of women.  There are books written about it and specialists and therapists and TED talks all about the choice women face between career and family.  It is rather absurd since the real answer is unique to each person.  I feel lucky that I have been able to be both mother and professional.  I started working in advertising and media in 1992. I started in radio, moved to non-profit, then online media.  I’ve worked as a strategist, project manager, consultant, business analyst and a myriad of other titles.  I’ve had clients in England, France, Japan, Columbia, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere.  I’ve traveled and met CEOs and had large expense accounts, managing million dollar clients.  It was fun and exciting and when I walked away from that in 2006, when Max was born, I didn’t think twice about leaving.  I have been able to have both – family and career – and for that I’m lucky.  As an older mom you have the unique ability to experience both sides of the fence – wholly and completely without feeling like you are choosing one over the other.

2.) Selflessness Versus Selfishness

When you are young you are selfish and myopic.  This isn’t a bad thing, this is just biology.  You are consumed with your own life, your own career, your own needs.  Sometime in your mid-twenties you are ready to think about somebody else and so you get married but children demand a whole different level of selflessness.  In order to be a parent you must be willing to give up practically EVERYTHING.  The demands of parenthood are extreme.  The thing about being in my thirties is that I don’t mind giving all that stuff up. It is easier for me to understand the demands of the now versus the demands of the later.

3.) Money

I’m more financially stable.  With fourteen years of career under my belt and a solid salary I was able to pay off debt, invest in a 401K and build a nest egg. Yes, children are expensive and my kids won’t be going to private schools or fancy colleges but they also won’t be in debt. In addition we can afford the vacation here and there, a bigger house, and we don’t have quite all the same money worries that so many young parents face.

4.) Confidence

There are few areas of life that are filled with as much unsolicited advice as parenting.  The sheer number of books that populate the world telling you how to be a parent is mind boggling and when you add that to the advice given from well meaning relatives and friends — well it is a miracle anybody gets it wrong.  All that advice can make you doubt every step, every decision and you can find yourself feeling the need to stand so firmly in your convictions that you become the self-righteous parent.  The nice thing about being an older mom is that I don’t give two craps what other people think.  Your late thirties and forties brings you a good dose of self confidence and belief in yourself.  As a result the whims of parenting trends don’t ruffle my feathers nearly as much.

All of this sounds lovely but there are definite downsides to being an older mom and the number one reason is biology.  When you’re twenty and have kids your body bounces right back. The weight melts away and your stomach retains it’s shape.  The burden on your body is barely felt.  In my thirties having children has left an indelible mark.  My bladder control was gone after child number 2.  My ability to keep my stomach acid in my stomach left after child number 3.  My abdominal muscles were permanently damaged after child number 2 and just made worse by child number 3.  Far too often I hear doctors say to me, “yeah, well we can’t fix that, that is what happens after three kids in your thirties”.  These young mothers who so self-righteously complain that if women just watched their weight and exercised they could fit back into their bikini need to have their third child at 39 and then tell me how easy it is.  For the record I never gained more than 20lbs with any of my pregnancies and yet the damage to my body would tell a different story. The nice thing though is that nobody expects me to look good in a bikini at 43 so I guess it doesn’t really matter.



It would be so much easier if I woke up and my body was covered in a rash.  Perhaps I could have a small cough or drippy nose. I would then know. It would be obvious that something was wrong with me, but that isn’t how it happens.  At first you attribute the mood swings to the stress happening in your life. I mean who wouldn’t be a bit frazzled after moving and having a new baby? Of course it is stress.  And the constant stream of tears? Well, I did just have a baby my hormones are just normalizing.  Everybody has bad days.  The loss of patience and irritability? I haven’t slept well in weeks and any normal person would be a bit annoyed.  At some point it becomes harder and harder to explain and justify. And then it happens.  After Max was born it was uncontrollable anger at David for leaving his coffee cup in the sink after I had just finished the dishes.  This time it was being so frustrated at Lucy I gently pushed her out of my bedroom and locked the door.  I didn’t throw her to the ground, or hurt her, or violently push her – but push her I did, and the underlying anger that was bubbling inside of me was scary.

Depression. Postpartum depression.

Depression isn’t like any other kind of illness. You can’t go to the doctor and point to a physical ailment and say “fix this”.  It is like a toxic gas that slowly creeps into your life. You know that something doesn’t smell quite right but you can’t figure out where it is coming from until you are doubled-over sick with toxicity.  And once you are sick it taints everything around it. 

I spend most of my days feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of tears.  All I can think about is wanting to sleep. If I could just sleep. And yet, even when the baby is asleep I can’t sleep. Insomnia plagues me at night.  Every obstacle and daily frustration feels like an insurmountable problem that needs to be faced. My mind restlessly wanders from one thought to the next never settling.  I’m incapable of decision making.  Just getting dressed or deciding what I’ll cook for dinner paralyzes me.  I spend hours aimlessly knocking around my house unable to focus my mind on any one task.  My inner voice obssessively chants; “So sad. I’m so sad.”

My only comfort is David.  His presence seems to settle the demons and lets me be at ease – even for an hour. I know what I need to do. I’ll make the necessary calls to doctors to get medicine prescribed and people to help and people to talk to about it.  In the meantime I feel a bit like Eeyore waiting for the rain cloud to blow away.

Baby 2.0

It is amazing how much stuff you can live WITHOUT by the time you get to your third child.  This time I’m more focused on purchasing the absolute minimum of baby items.  However, even with this mantra I have come across some gems that I wish I owned when Lucy and Max were little.

1.) Baby bathtub

Now I had a baby bathtub with Lucy and Max BUT NOT ONE WITH A BUILT IN SLING.  Dude, this is ingenious. Bathing tiny newborns has always been the most heart-pumping, gut-wrenching, “oh my goodness I’m going to drown my child” kind of experience for me.  I LOVE this bathtub. I bought it at Target (in pink) and it holds Harper still, snug and out of the water. No longer am I worried about her slippery little body shooting out of my arms and into the water.

2.) The Swaddler

This is one of those things that you wonder why somebody didn’t think of this sooner.  A receiving blanket that is shaped and with velcro tabs so any idiot can tightly swaddle their baby.  I don’t know about you but I’ve never been able to swaddle my baby like the hospital nurses.  Seriously, do they offer a class in swaddling while they are in nursing school? Those women have a ninja level swaddling abilities. However, you can achieve that same tight effect with the Swaddler. I bought one (also at Target) and I wish I had bought ten – these things are great!!

3.) My Sling

I won’t lament you with my woes about my sling-usage since I have already done that, but I will say that this has been a life-saver for me. It is nearly impossible to go grocery shopping or run around town with three kids in tow if one of them is a newborn. I just don’t have enough arms, hands and back muscles to manage that.  I love that the sling allows me to travel hands-free without lugging a 20+ pound infant carrier around. (Seriously, a man created infant carriers. I would place money on it. Because only a man would think that hauling around a 20+ pound infant carrier would be oh so convenient. Bastard.) Although I have had great luck with the Hot Sling I would encourage any new mom to try out and select a sling that fits them best.  The right fit is the key here so make sure you are properly fitted. Think bra, but with a baby in it.

These new discoveries have made having a new baby much easier for me and makes me almost think that a fourth might be fun. And then, I remember that my stomach lives in a separate county from the rest of my body.

The Birth Story (Because Everybody Has One)

The date was set.  We had a plan.  I was to check into the hospital on February 8th at 9:00pm.  The doctor was going to insert a “wafer” that would soften my cervix overnight. On February 9th at 7:00am the doctor would start the Pitocin and by dinner the baby would be born. Textbook. A Plan. We all know how much I love my plans. A plan is safe, it is comforting, it provides the illusion of control.

At 9:00pm David and I arrived at the hospital only to find out that they didn’t have room for us.  Yes, like Mary and Joseph there was no room at the inn and we were left to wander the city waiting to hear if an empty manger was available.  At 11:45pm the hospital called the house to tell us to come on in, they had space.  By the time the nurses had us checked in, the IV administered, orders given by the doctor and the “wafer” inserted it was 3:00am.  The pain started quickly.  First, it was a sharp throbbing in my IV.  I have tiny wrists, tiny veins, and although these things don’t make me look any better in a bikini, they do prevent me from being a very good recipient of an IV.  Then the burning started.  The “you’ve got to be kidding me, my cervix is on fire” kind of burning.  David snored and I tossed and moaned in discomfort.

At 6:00am the day nurse arrived and quickly ascertained that the IV was not functioning properly and was about to “blow out”. She removed the IV and the relief I felt was so immediate I seriously considered french kissing the nurse. She removed the “wafer” and the burning slowly faded.  Things were looking up.  The Pitocin would come and then shortly after that the epidural and then nap time for Beth.  Again, THE PLAN.  We had a PLAN.

The Pitocin began and the contractions that I had been having for weeks returned but with more regularity.  FINALLY, I could tell I was making progress.  David and I chatted in between, called friends, checked Facebook and joked with the nurses.  At 10:00am the doctor arrived, checked my cervix and announced that I was only 3cm dilated. I still had a long road ahead of me. She said I had 30 more minutes before she would approve the epidural.  The ramifications of that decision could not have been forseen by anyone.

The contractions got stronger, more painful and more frequent.  I quickly went from uncomfortable to cussing.  By 10:20am I was begging for the epidural.  The anesthesiologist was quickly dispatched and in my room.  However, the pain, the pressure, the mind-blowing pain was blocking everything else out.  Tears were streaming down my face and I was using every breathing technique I learned in every Yoga class I have ever taken.  I was pleading for it to stop. The nurse (Kendra, to whom I will forever be indebted) and David held my hands, rubbed my shoulders and told me to not stop breathing.  And the epidural? Well, they couldn’t get it in.  This is not a surprise (for those horrified at reading this) because I had the same problem with Lucy and Max.  I have small joints – even in my back.  After what seemed like an eternity, and multiple tries between contractions, and me dropping the f-word like I use it everyday, the epidural was in.  My body flooded with medication I felt instant relief.  I breathed deeply and told David I just couldn’t do it any longer.  I was exhausted. My body worn out. I didn’t have it in me.  Kendra checked my cervix again – I was fully dilated and ready to push.  The epidural came too late.  I dilated 7cm in thirty minutes.

The doctor was called and we waited.  The pressure and the instinct to push getting more acute by the second I finally declared that I could wait no longer.  Doctor or not I was pushing.  My spirits lifted because I knew this was the short part.  I had pushed for twenty minutes with Lucy, less with Max.  I knew that the end was so close. In the meantime, the epidural only dulled the pain but did not erase it. Unlike my previous deliveries I could still feel everything.  I pushed. Nothing.  I pushed again. Nothing. I pushed a third time. Nothing.  Now, keep in mind that by this time Lucy had crowned and Max was out.  The pain and pressure gaining in intensity.  The doctor arrived and I continued to push.  However, nothing seemed to be happening and I was getting tired. Finally, I could feel her crown.  The pushing came closer together and I became focused on getting her out. The doctor, trying to pace me so I wouldn’t wear out, told me to “let the baby do all the work” but I was at the end of my rope.  I wanted this baby out and I wanted her out now.  In what I can only describe as instinctive I screamed “I NEED TO GET HER OUT! I NEED TO GET HER OUT NOW!” In one motion I  pushed hard off the stir-ups pushing my head back against the wall and I felt Harper enter the world with a chorus of shouts and the soft crying of a newborn.

Harper was born at 12:30 on the nose.  And although it felt like an eternity to me I pushed for less than thirty minutes. Harper, like her older sister, also suffering with breathing issues was quickly taken to the nursery to clear her lungs of fluid, but not before I had a chance to hold her and recognize the tiny little spirit that had been living within.


Although this was not the birthing experience I had PLANNED it seemed appropriate that my last birth experience should be done with a certain amount of flair and finality.  David felt far more a part of the birthing experience and later described that he felt “more in the moment”.  As he held his baby girl and quietly cried and giggled at her perfection I was happy he could share in the emotion that I alone was able to experience the previous two times.

As God has a way of doing, I’m recovering faster and feel better than I have after either of my previous births.  I’ve had less pain, less swelling, less everything.  I feel fantastic and outside of some simple Motrin I have been able to come home and pick up where I left off.  I love this little girl and am so glad that this part of our life experiences together is behind us.

Home Stretch

More than likely I will be welcoming our third baby in the next two weeks.  For most pregnant women this is a difficult part of pregnancy and indeed I’m struggling to stay upbeat.  I am a woman who labors for weeks. On and off contractions that are uncomfortable all the time and painful some of the time and rarely productive.  I’m trying to find my “happy place” or at least come to peace with these last couple of weeks. I want to enjoy this last little bit of time I have before my little girl arrives.

I took time today to go back and re-read all my posts about my miscarriage.  The disappointment, the pain and the months of indecision and uncertainty that followed. As miscarriages go mine was pretty easy.  It happened early before we ever saw or heard a heartbeat.  I never had to suffer through the physical pain of actual miscarriage since I had a D&C days after discovering that the pregnancy was a failure. It was all very medical and clean and uncomplicated. Sort of. The emotions that were left behind though and the anguish of knowing my body had failed me was hard to reconcile.  And yet now, well it doesn’t really matter now. Because in less than two weeks I’m having a baby.

It is funny how all those meaningless platitudes that people say; “it is for the best”, “God will send you another”, “there is a reason for this” all make sense now.  It was good that we had more time to think about this last baby. I do feel ready, or at least as ready as anybody feels for a baby.  I’m excited and I have a feeling that this little girl, this little dawdler of mine who is delaying her arrival, well, I suspect she has a wicked sense of humor like her Daddy.

I recently had a student say to me, after hearing me complain about labor pain, “I NEVER want to get pregnant. I don’t know how you did it three times.”  Yep, we women, we’re crazy like that aren’t we?

Baby #1 Vs Baby #3

Baby #1: The pregnancy test comes back positive and your emotional reaction is overwhelming.  There are tears and squeals of joy. Phone calls are instantly made around the world announcing the glorious news.

Baby #3: The pregnancy test comes back positive and you exclaim in the privacy of your bathroom; “NO WAY!”

Baby #1: You instantly purchase every book on pregnancy, have calendars always within arms reach and can tell anybody at a moments notice how far along you are down to the minute, and where your baby is developmentally

Baby #3: You no longer keep track of time and assume that when the baby is done it will arrive.  No reason to really think too much about it now.

Baby #1: You have the nursery decor selected, colors chosen, and themes identified before the end of the first trimester

Baby #3: If necessary the baby can sleep in a drawer. It is not like it will remember.

Baby #1: You practically throw a party on the day you realize you can no longer fit into your pants and MUST buy maternity clothes

Baby #3: You never really stopped wearing your maternity clothes from the first two pregnancies.

Baby #1: Every pregnancy symptom is greeted with excitement and confirmation of the growing miracle in your stomach

Baby #3: You find yourself cursing your husband and yourself for thinking another pregnancy was a good idea every time you wretch, or experience a leg cramp

Baby #1: Friends, family and doctors are so excited for you and share in the joy that is the innocence of not fully understanding the bomb that is about to explode in your life.

Baby #3: Friends, family and doctors look at you and ask “was this an accident or on purpose?”

Baby #1: Names are selected and properly engraved on every blanket, shirt, bottle and item in the nursery all before the end of the second trimester

Baby #3: A name? The baby needs a name?

Baby #1: Thinking about the new person joining your family makes you want to cry

Baby #3: Knowing that the new person joining your family will change you forever makes you want to cry

Let Me Present Hell In A Handbasket

Ever have those times in your life when everything feels like it has been put on fast-forward?  Oh sure, kids sort of make you feel like that all the time, but there are times, special times, when it feels even faster than that?  Well, that is where I am. Every morning I feel like my life has taken a hit of crack cocaine and forgot to share the goods with my body.  My life is moving faster and yet my body and mind have slowed down to a pace that resembles the mental capacity of a retarded puppy.  I know all you moms out there who have been juggling multiple kids in school for a long time now will feel no sympathy for me, but DAMN it is hard and why the hell did nobody tell me?

Three days a week my day resembles this:

5:45: wake up as quietly as humanly possible so I can shower and dress without interruption. This works 50% of the time

6:45: wake Lucy up (if not already awake). Cartoons, chocolate milk and the morning soothing of Max who routinely wakes up crying for no apparent reason

7:00: Lucy gets dressed and we pack to leave for school (both her and I must prep for school.  I rarely get breakfast since I take my Thyroid meds at 6:00 and we’re out the door by 7:15 – no time for breakfast)

7:15: leave for school

7:30: drop Lucy off at school

8:00 – 2:30: I teach, grade papers, prep for class, meet with students, etc, etc.  If I’m lucky I get to eat lunch. Lunch happens about 50% of the time

2:45: I pick up Lucy from school

3:15: I pick up Max from school

4:00: back home and if I’m lucky I get a 20 minute cat nap.

5:00: dinner and pre-dinner snacking mixed with homework, cleaning out lunch boxes, etc.

6:00: dinner

7:00: PJ’s, bedtime movie. etc

8:30: kids are in bed

9:00: pack lunches for tomorrow, lay out uniforms, pack backpack and prep for school for the next day

9:30: dishes, and clean up from dinner

10:00: 1 hour of TV for mommy (this is a luxury, in reality I should be grading papers, but I’m mentally dead by this point)

11:00: bedtime, which usually looks like me falling asleep on the couch and David waking me up to remind me that I own a bed and I may want to use it.

On the days I don’t teach it looks slower but I’m so desperate to get caught up from the days that I do teach that most of the time I spend the day overwhelmed and paralyzed with the tasks ahead of me. My ability to manage even the most simplest of tasks is absent.

I don’t know if it is my age with this pregnancy or just that every pregnancy is different but this time around, well, my mental capacity is gone.  I’m experiencing huge mood swings, and an inability to focus my thinking or concentrate. I cry, laugh, get angry, have little patience and frequently feel overwhelmed by something as simple as the dishes. As soon as I feel the slightest bit caught up I have a day when I land in bed and I slide right back to where I was.  I know I probably should have been reaching out to my blogging network for support, but somehow that has felt like a luxury that I haven’t been able to afford.

On the positive side I have a husband who has no problem making himself a sandwich or a plate of eggs for dinner. David has tried to be understanding of the emotional wreck of a wife that has somehow showed up for this pregnancy.  There are days when he looks at me like I’m an alien but has done his best to not say anything. There are days when he seems as confused as I do. There are days when we both just collapse into a heap of emotion and just cling to the nine years of history we have built with each other knowing that it will float us through.

Physically I feel fine. I have chronic indigestion and a cough that won’t go away but honestly, I have only gained about 7 pounds and feel great.  It is the mental, hormonal, emotional impact that I’m not weathering nearly as well as I have during other pregnancies. Even this blog post seems to ramble with no real point.  Please tell me this is normal and then hold me and tell me it will all be okay.


Why do they only give you one pillow? My stomach is so large that laying down feels more like I’ve surrendered to gravity than true relaxation.  I can’t see the monitor because this flimsy excuse of a pillow couldn’t possibly prop up anything and I can’t tuck my arm under my neck because I forgot to shave under my arms this morning.  I lay here. The room is quiet and David and I make awkward conversation about the day, work, etc.  Neither one of us wants to admit it but we’ve been both worried about this day. I’m 18 weeks pregnant and this is our first visit to the high-risk ultra-sound specialist.  Today we find out if our child has any birth defects.

It is surprising how a miscarriage affects you.  Prior to my failed pregnancy I never worried about any of the “risks” that were ever presented to me by my ob-gyn.  But now, having experienced the disappointment and loss of a pregnancy, well it seems as if the possibility of something to go wrong is much greater and more acute.  David and I have not purchased a single new item for this baby. We have had only non-commital discussions about names.  There is this underlying feeling that if we plan we’ll lose this one too.

The doctor entered the room with purpose. He quickly cut the lights and sat down on the small stool in front of the monitor. Every action he took had the air of determination and experience, as if he had done this thousands of times and there was nothing even remotely high-risk or unusual about me.  Without ceremony he turned on the ultra-sound monitor and there was the baby.  No formal introductions or pre-cursors or fanfare. After two children and three pregnancies David and I no longer needed the guided tour, we instantly recognized the spine, fingers, toes, eyes, hands, nose, legs, arms and the quiet flutter of the heart. The doctor quickly moved around the womb snapping pictures and taking measurements.  He unceremoniously announced that there were ten fingers, ten toes, normal brain development, average size, and no anatomical birth defects.  Although it was early to say with absolute certainty that there was no Down’s Syndrome it appeared at this time that none of the usual markers were there.  And by the way, it is a girl.

A girl.

The whole appointment took less than twenty minutes and the doctor left as quickly as he had arrived.  And yet in that twenty minutes my life has been forever changed.  I’m having a baby. I’m having a little girl and she’s healthy. She has fingers and toes and she is growing like the miracle that she is.  This pregnancy, this late surprise, this child that we never planned but always hoped would happen has altered me in a way that the other pregnancies have not.  My time as a mother feels more temporary, fleeting and precious. This little girl – this angel that is growing inside of me – I hope she never leaves me.