My husband and I met when I was 36 and he was 40. Neither of us had been married before and neither of us had children. When we married a year later, I was already negotiating on how soon we should wait before trying to conceive. While I was playing “beat the clock” in my mind, he felt we needed more couple time. We agreed upon a 6 month waiting period and about 2 months after this time period we conceived. I was 38 years old and pleasantly surprised at how quickly it all happened. The pregnancy was considered high risk due to my age. In fact, I was given a diagnosis of ‘Elderly Primigravida’. I remember thinking, though, “Since when is 38 considered ELDERLY?!” Thankfully, it was a pretty good pregnancy with no complications. Nine days before my 39th birthday I delivered a healthy beautiful baby boy. He was exactly what I had prayed for all those years.
Even before my son was born, my husband and I were already discussing our “next child”. I still recall him asking my OB if she only saw one heartbeat on the initial ultrasound. If I weren’t in such a compromising position at the time of the ultrasound I would have hit him. As a registered nurse in pediatrics by profession, I felt we were blessed beyond measure to have conceived so easily the first time and then to have the healthy, beautiful baby we had prayed for.
I have seen so much in my years as an RN, and my knowledge of the risks to both the child and mother when delivering at an advanced age plague my mind. I grew up as an only child and figured I turned out pretty well so my son being an only child doesn’t concern me much. My husband, on the other hand, is the eldest of 3 and feels that every child needs a sibling. While having a sibling for my son sounds great, with each passing year and with every new gray hair I am reminded of my increasing age. I find myself reflecting on that diagnosis of “Elderly Primigravida”. Nothing makes you feel as secure as being labeled “elderly” when you’re 38 and waddling along with a baby in your womb. This, along with pure exhaustion during the first year of my child’s life and twice being asked if I were my child’s grandmother, helps me put thoughts of having another child out of my mind.
My 20 year-old self had planned to be married by 27, have my first child by 30, the next at 33 and the last at 36. However, that is not how life has worked out for me. In my 30s I lowered my number of children to 2, and when I married at 38 I decided if I could just have one child I would be content, and truly I am. My son is a delight, and I feel honored to be his mother. It is amazing how quickly 2 years and 9 months can go by. His intelligence, humor, insight, laughter and even those toddler tantrums just astound me. I love seeing the world through his eyes. The joy he takes in the simplest things that we as adults take for granted is refreshing. At almost 3 years of age my son’s face has gone from the cute soft baby face to this adorable “big boy” face. It seems like yesterday he needed my help to do everything and now all I hear is “I do it Mommie!”
Although I realize I am getting older, the thoughts of having a child still fill my mind. I find myself mentally rearranging his room to add a crib and figuring out how to rearrange closet space for his sibling. I have begun calculating the cost of child care and laying out pumping locations at my job. All of these thoughts and the excitement of giving my son a sibling and adding another little blessing to our home are very much present. But unlike our first experience at conception when I could easily predict my cycle, I am beginning to see changes occurring in my 40 year old body. For the first time in my life my cycle is becoming unpredictable. Five days late one month, on time the next month. It’s a quiet reminder that my body is beginning to change, which makes my desire to have another child even stronger. Yet I fear nature may be making the final decision for me before I am able to really make up my mind on my own.
Younger mothers can question how many children they want and have time on their side if they choose to wait several years for another child. When you are a mature mother the choice really isn’t yours; biology often is the deciding factor. Do you give yourself a year to try and conceive again? Two years? Should I have decided sooner when my body was still predictable? I try to remind myself at age 41 as I did at age 21: “Release what you cannot control and be grateful for what you have at the moment.” At this moment the little boy whose eyes light up when he sees his parents in the morning and loves to read and write his letters is more than enough for me. Will here be a number two? I don’t know, but I do have my number one 🙂