6 months ago
Q&A: Motherhood in Your Late Thirties
A few days ago, I mentioned that I was working on a blog post about becoming a mom in my mid-late 30s. The questions started coming in – someone mentioned that thirty-five wasn’t “late” and for the record, I agree – so I decided to say something in stories. Then the comments started pouring in. Hundreds of messages from women who can relate in one way or another. Since there was just too much to get into, I decided to answer all of your questions in one place. So today, I’m talking about all of it. Conception, recovery, the impact on my career, and the positives (and negatives) to having babies after thirty-five.
Health related Qs
Did you consider freezing your eggs before you met Conor?
I did not and can’t say for sure what I would have done. We met right before I turned 33 and talked about a future together, so I wanted to see where it went. I personally always loved the idea of adoption and probably would have done that before freezing my eggs? Hard to say.
Did you do any genetic testing?
Conor and I both had a full genetic panel after I got pregnant. Everyone is a carrier of something but fortunately, we did not carry any of the same mutations. Nothing would be passed down to our children. I also went in for early testing at 10 weeks with both pregnancies since I was over 35. Was I nervous? Yes, of course.
Did you have trouble conceiving?
I was very fortunate and did not have any trouble conceiving. In fact, I got pregnant on the first try each time I tried, which I know is not very common at any age. We tried to conceive a total of three times, when I was 35, 36, and a month later, when I had just turned 37. I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks the month before getting pregnant with Kate. so something was likely wrong with that pregnancy, but I got pregnant the following month. Everything turned out ok.
Did you experience any complications?
Did you do anything special with your diet? Prenatals?
I did start taking prenatals before we started trying, as recommended by my OB.
Did recovery feel difficult?
I got this question a lot and obviously can’t compare to recovery before 35, but my labors were both really easy and recovery was fine. It was all much, much better than I imagined it would be.
Did you ever worry about not settling down or not finding love? Did you ever feel like time was running out?
Of course. Doesn’t everyone worry about that? I dated a total sociopath from the time I was 19-28. My self esteem was low and he made things a lot worse for me. It took years to gain some confidence and to stop dating idiots, so I had a lot of those thoughts, but am so glad I ended things with him and knew not to settle. There were times I loved being on my own. I loved living alone and having freedom to do what I wanted but it did get lonely. Dating is exhausting and dating apps can be so discouraging. I don’t know that I felt that time was running out, but I was tired of dating, and sometimes wondered if I’d find someone to share my life with. While I get not always loving being single, we really idealize marriage and kids and put way too much pressure on women.
How did you handle stress and anxiety over fertility as you got older?
I was sure it would take at least a year to conceive since I was 35. I do not mean to sound insensitive and hope my story gives some of you hope. Since I got pregnant on our first try, I didn’t really have time to worry about my fertility.
Does it feel “later in life” to you?
If you had asked me this in my 20s, I would have said yes. Now? No. Not at all. The only part I don’t love is missed time with my girls. I was 13 years older than my mom was when she had me, and sometimes, I think about the years I’m losing later, but then realize time is not promised.
Did your anxiety get worse or was it the same after having kids?
It ebbs and flows. I probably had some postpartum anxiety with Margot so it wasn’t great at first. I checked on Margot a lot and would worry about the most random (not “normal” things). Her car seat installation wasn’t perfect enough and I thought she’d get hit by a car on a walk with our nanny. That got a lot better but I always worried when anything would come up and would get it checked out.
I suppose not letting things go helped us figure out her diagnosis sooner than later, but when you go through something like that, it’s a whole other level. It was really bad last year since I had zero control over anything. I worried a lot less about the little things with Kate when she was born because she was healthy and I knew she was ok. I used the nanit breathing wear for peace of mind and that was about it. I do not worry nearly as much as I used to. Lexapro helps, and sometimes, it takes time.
How did you know you wanted a second child?
I only have half siblings and wanted Margot to experience growing up with a sibling who shared the same parents. When I thought of our family in the years to come – the day-to-day, travel, holidays, experiences – I imagined more than one child. So that’s how I knew. It felt like someone was missing from our future.
How did you know it was time for a second baby?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I was definitely the one to bring it up and told Conor it would take a few months the second time. We would have had a baby in May had I not miscarried, and Kate was born in June. The girls are almost exactly two years apart (their birthdays are 9 days apart) which wasn’t a part of some plan, but it just seemed like a good idea to have them relatively close in age? It would be so much easier to have them 2.5 – 3 years apart. Margot was so much more of a person at 2.5-3 compared to 2.
Were you able to maintain friendships with friends who had kids younger than you?
Yes, definitely. Kids were never really the reason any of my friendships ended. One of my best friends lives in Santa Barbara. Her oldest is turning 13! We haven’t lived in the same city since before he was born and we still talk weekly.
Do you get a lot of opinions about “stopping at two?” I’ve had some age related comments.
Not really, but I also had Kate during the pandemic so I really only talk to close friends and I’m an open book.
Do you worry about having less energy?
I’ve been tired for well over a decade so not really. Lots of questions about energy. I am exhausted. Staying up until midnight does not help. Go to bed earlier and drink lots of coffee.
I’m so undecided. Did you always know you wanted kids? I can’t fathom such a huge change.
I did always want kids but don’t know that I could really picture how different life would be. I really thought about both options and I can definitely see the positives and negatives to having / not having children. Ultimately, I really wanted a family of my own. Growing up the way I did and having parents who are pretty toxic, having a family felt especially important to me. It’s so much more work than I thought it would be because there’s just no way to know until you’re in it. Make a list of pros and cons and think about what feels right to you. I was once at this 2 day conference and one of the open talks was titled “should I have kids” and in the end, even the people who were on the fence were all happy they had kids. No one regretted it.
Are you offended by 35+ being considered a geriatric pregnancy?
It’s just so stupid. Am I personally offended? No. But out of respect for women, we should come up with another option. I know there’s “advanced maternal age” but so many women have babies over 35 so can we just call it something else?
Did you worry about the impact on your career?
Yes and no. Because I worked for myself, I didn’t worry about having a baby holding me back in any way, and with what I do, it’s not like it would close doors for me. I went into it thinking I’d hire a nanny, get to keep an eye on my baby since I work from home, and didn’t think it would be that big of a deal but there was so much more to it than that. It was really tough having someone else care for my baby 40+ hours a week. I did not want to be home with Margot full-time (so much respect – it’s just really hard and I wanted to work), but I didn’t love working full-time, either. I had side projects on top of that and it was really, really hard to keep up. The stress, anxiety, and burnout were too much, and I had zero life outside of work and motherhood. Then our lives were turned upside down and there was no going back to who I used to be. Longest answer, but even now, after leaving my company, I’m happier than I’ve been in years, and know what a privilege it is to be where I am today. We have a part-time nanny that we love who allows me time to get work done and to take care of myself, or spend one-on-one time with the girls.
What are the positives of waiting until your mid – late thirties?
I shared those in this post.
Do you feel like you missed out being a mom later vs. earlier?
I gained so much by waiting to have my girls. Like I said earlier, the only thing I’ve missed is time with my girls when they’re older. Someone asked about grandkids. Yes, I’ve thought about less time with my grandchildren, but becoming a parent earlier and missing out on everything I did to maybe have time with my grandchildren later (assuming I live to a certain age) isn’t really a way to live, is it? My grandma had my mom at 39 and was around until I was 20. I really try to stay present and focus on where we are now. I have a young mom I’m not close to so I’d rather have an “older” mom who’s my best friend.
Any regrets or difficulties?
Not really, no. Actually, I wish I had hired a night nurse maybe two nights a week. I was so tired and had zero help with Margot the first month. Ask for or hire help, even if it’s just a few hours a day. I also wish we had prioritized date nights before the pandemic.
How do you find friends with kids in the same stage? I’m the oldest mom at pre-k. My friends all have teens.
I have not really been in a making new friends place the last year and-a-half. My friend Katie’s boys are 4 and 6 months older than my girls. Everyone else has kids that are young enough (within a year or two of my girls). I’ve found it’s ok if our kids aren’t in the exact same stages, and my girls love my friend’s kids even though some are a little older than they are.
Did you experience any issues with family or friends not understanding why you didn’t become a mom until 35?
Not really, no. Most of my friends had babies before me, and Conor blended in with my friends really well, so we always enjoyed time with our friends with kids. My friends knew I wanted to be a mom and understood why I didn’t have kids yet. I’m sure I would have heard more had Conor and I decided to start trying 1-2 years after we got married. Had it taken a while, our friends and family likely would have known.
What are your relationships with younger moms like?
I haven’t become friends with any younger moms since having kids, but I have friends who happen to be a few years younger who have kids? It’s been a weird couple years.
How did you feel when friends became parents before you?
Sometimes it stung a little bit, but I was always so happy for them. It’s so hard when you know you want to be a parent because those doomsday “will this ever happen for me?” thoughts are bound to creep up on you. It’s just so important to remember that we all have our own journeys.
You are hardly old. I had a baby at 40. Please do not make me feel old.
I never said I was old. I had a baby a few months before turning 38 which is basically the same thing as 40. Please do not give someone else (especially someone you follow on the internet) the power to make you feel old. You’re awesome.