Over 45 and Pregnant - What Will People Think?
©Jan Andersen 2002
If you are planning a midlife pregnancy, or suddenly find yourself expecting over the age of 45, apart from the obvious health issues, one of the main questions that will inevitably arise in your mind is, "What will people think?"
Will they think you're completely mad? Will they offer unqualified advice based on limited knowledge? Will they make insensitive and unkind remarks or, in the future, will strangers assume that you are the child's grandmother? Will they lack understanding and try to instil their own values upon you by saying things like, "Why on earth would you want another baby at your age?" or "Rather you than me." One of the most annoying remarks and one that has been made many times to women who already have children is, "You should be happy with what you've got". That's no different to passing judgement on their choices by saying something like, "Why do you want another car / house / pet? You should be happy with what you've got".
It doesn't really matter what other people think. We all make personal choices and no one should condemn you for decisions you make that affect your life and not theirs. The desire to have a baby is no different at 45 to the desire to have a baby at 25.
Try to ignore any negative comments you may receive, or compose your own witty comeback. Some comments are based on ignorance and others are based on people's own personal choice not to want another child themselves. Some comments may even been be based on jealousy, with these messengers of doom secretly harbouring a desire to be blessed with another baby themselves. Too much unnecessary anxiety has been fed into the minds of older mothers via non-medical friends and acquaintances who feel compelled to impart their limited knowledge and thoughtless opinions.
If someone should mistake you for your child's grandmother, so what? It is almost impossible to discern someone's age these days and I know of much younger mothers who have been mistaken for their children's grandmother. However, age and appearance do not have any bearing upon your ability to be a great parent. I would rather look like my child's grandmother, secure in the knowledge that my child is being raised in a loving, stable environment, than look like my child's sister and be ill-equipped to cope with the demands of being a young mother.
In 1983, when my own grandmother was 75, she looked after my baby son whilst I went out to work full-time. She was the best childminder that I have ever had and put far more effort into educating him, amusing him and running around the park than many younger parents I have known.
From my perspective, I have been a young mother and an older mother so I have a comparison through personal experience. When I gave birth to my first three children in my twenties, I admit to being far less emotionally, spiritually and financially stable than I was when I gave birth to my fourth child at the age of 40. In my twenties, I was still trying to decide what I was going to be when I "grew up" and was struggling with all manner of identity crises, not aided by the fact that I was in an unhappy marriage with an unsupportive husband. When my life was crowded with unresolved personal issues, I was unable to devote myself totally to my children. When I gave birth to my youngest daughter at the age of 40, I was very clear about what I wanted in life, including another baby. I had, and still have, a supportive partner who nurtured me through the pregnancy and plays an active role as a father.
People, by their nature, are opinionated and will always be ready to impart their unwarranted views, often in the most tactless manner. If you are dumbfounded by any comments your receive, the simplest response is, "That's my choice. It's what I / we want. It doesn't adversely affect your life does it?"