Name: Claire B. Hegarty
Age when you gave birth: 41
Residence: Dublin in the Republic of Ireland
Child’s name: Ciarán (pronounced Cirawn)
Current or former profession(s): I am on a career break from an executive assistant’s job. Between parenting, blogging, pet sitting, caring for my mother and squeezing in and at yoga, I am busier than I ever was. http://www.fortysomethingfirsttimemum.blogspot.com/
How long were you trying to get pregnant?
Around three years
What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 35?
At age 38 and after years of thinking I didn’t want children, what I thought was mythical – the body clock – suddenly kicked in! I didn’t do anything much to increase my chances as I just assumed it would be okay. Then when nothing happened except a miscarriage, I considered IVF but after research discounted the idea. IVF seemed to take over the lives of people. If IVF didn’t work, the devastation would be even more unbearable for me.
When I hit 40, I thought that was it. My chance was over. I decided that parenting probably wasn’t the path for me. I put it out of my mind. I threw myself into other aspects of my life. Then, out of the blue, at age 41, it happened! The amazing thing was that I was three months pregnant before I even realized! The idea had gone so far out of my mind. I had even lost track of my cycle because I wasn’t thinking about it anymore.
THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY
How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy? Were you surprise by their reaction?
My doctors were reasonably supportive. I did feel though that they were more worried about me because of my age. They seemed at pains to point out the statistics of abnormalities in the babies of more mature people but I was only slightly worried myself.
Did you change doctors or would like to have changed doctors? Why or why not?
No. I found my doctors to be fine. Although one did say that because I would be almost 42 when I gave birth, the chances of having another would not be very high and I would be ‘pushing it’ to be expecting to have a ‘normal’ outcome if I tried.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Who was the first person you told about your pregnancy and why?
I told my husband and then my mother because they were the two most important people to me at the time.
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told me about your pregnancy?
Most of them were delighted for me but my mother was worried because of my age. A few thought I was selfish and someone else said I was brave.
LABOR AND DELIVERY
Did you take any childbirth classes? Why or why not?
I went to antenatal classes because I thought that is what I should do. I found the classes informative but embarrassing especially when partners came along. I did meet another forty something mother to be there though. We had our children within weeks of each other. Our children are the best of friends now!
Where did you give birth?
I gave birth in hospital. I thought up until the last minute I would have a natural birth but then I had a panic attack. I really freaked out so they decided they would do a c-section.
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
I don’t remember much except that wonderful moment when they put my son into our arms! I now understood what people meant when they went on about it!
I AM A MOM
What concerns you most about being a mom over 35 and how do you compensate for this fear?
I am sometimes concerned that I will die before he is a fully-fledged adult. I compensate by taking better care of myself mentally and physically than I did in the past. I eat better. I drink less, exercise more and I take yoga classes during the week. My mother always says ‘you don’t have to be older to die’ and she’s right. I know many mothers who are much younger than I am but are less healthy and less energetic.
I also have concerns about him being an only child. I had two miscarriages at age 43 and 44.
What do you enjoy most about being an older mom?
I am more aware of how quickly time goes and how important it is to cherish the moments I have with my child. I used to be embarrassed if someone mentioned that I was an older mom but now I revel in it.
How has becoming a mom changed you?
I am less selfish and I have reconnected with the fun side of myself, a side that had been waning before I had him.
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 35?
I would just say go for it as soon as possible. If you are anything like me, you will want to have another. I had a total turnaround in my attitude to being a mother and I am thankful that I got the chance, at least once.