In this interview, first time mum/mom over 40 Natalie (pictured above with her son) of the UK shares why natural pregnancy was the only option for her and her husband.
Age you gave birth: 42
State/Country of residence: UK
Child’s name and age: Ralph – 1 years old
Current or former profession(s): Assistant Producer (Broadcast Television); currently a Stay-at-Home Mum
THE JOURNEY TO PREGNANCY
What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 40?
I was on the contraceptive pill from the age of 17. I never had a break from it; I was on it continuously. I stopped taking the contraceptive pill in March 2016 and fell pregnant just over a year later in April 2017.
I have many friends who have had trouble falling pregnant or staying pregnant, and friends who have had IVF treatment. My husband and I knew from the word go that if it did not happen for us naturally, then we would not go down the IVF route. We felt it (the IVF route) was physically and mentally draining. We also didn’t want to become one of those couples who obsess about getting pregnant. We were determined to not let it take over our lives, or indeed, our sex lives as we felt it then becomes unhealthy.
After 9 months of not being on the contraceptive pill and no sign of pregnancy, I decided to book an appointment at my doctors,
something I had not done before, to at least see if I was fertile. It should be noted that my husband had a fertility test prior to me coming off the pill. We felt that if he wasn’t fertile, then there was not point in us trying. For some, this may seem very black and white, but every couple has their limitations and starting points. I suppose for us, that was ours. My husband’s sperm count was normal.
In the UK, some fertility treatment before the age of 40, is free on our National Health Service however, over the age of 40, it is not. This was pointed out to me when I visited the doctor and I explained that that was fine as I wouldn’t want to go down that route any way. So in January 2017, I engaged in a series of initial routine fertility tests and it was at the very last one, which involved an internal examination. The nurse asked me the date of my last period? I said, ” the 21st March”. She nearly fell off her chair as it was the 2nd May at this point! She suggested I go take a pregnancy test. So I did. It was positive!
SUPPORT DURING PREGNANCY
How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
The doctors I saw during my pregnancy were extremely supportive. I did ask to not see a particular doctor again during a routine check-up as I found her manner somewhat condescending and a little rude. This was not a problem and I was assigned a fabulous doctor who stayed with me throughout my pregnancy and postnatal too.
In the UK, there is a schedule of midwife appointments you have to attend throughout your entire pregnancy. Every midwife I saw was absolutely brilliant, supportive, knowledgeable and offered excellent advice. Due to my age, I had additional appointments including one with a consultant to monitor me and my baby. He was supportive and always answered the questions we had. I felt that me and my baby were very cared for.
Family and Friends
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told them about your pregnancy?
It’s probably a slight understatement to say that my friends and family were shocked when I told them I was pregnant. No one knew we were even trying to conceive or that I had had a series of tests done. I never wanted the added pressure of people asking me “how things were going” on the pregnancy/baby-making front. Plus I think it is a very private matter and not one up for discussion! In addition, most people who know me thought I never wanted children, so I think that added to the total surprise when I told them I was!!
I only told my bestest friends and our parents after our 12 week scan, and then they were sworn to secrecy. We only really started telling people when I started to show around 5 months. One set of friends saw me at a wedding when I was 6 months pregnant and didn’t even notice!
LABOR AND DELIVERY EXPERIENCE
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
I had the most amazing pregnancy. I kept fit, went running, walked my dog and I even rode my horse up until 10 days before I gave birth! On New Year’s Eve, 2017, I had a ‘show’ at 10.30am. I made my husband come with me to the stables to muck out my horse before my waters broke or the contractions started.
Long story short, around 6pm, my contractions started kicking in and over the course of about 3 hours. l managed to go 8 centimeters dilated at home with no pain relief. When we got to the hospital and the midwife checked me, they whisked me off to a birthing room. They got the birthing pool ready, as that was my wish, to have my baby in a birthing pool.
All seemed to be going well and I was coping really well and managing the pain. However, sadly when my waters did finally break, it was in the birthing pool. The midwife noticed the water had gone a greenly color meaning that my baby had excreted inside me. So I had to get out of the pool.
Over the course of another 12 hours (I’d opted for an epidural after a couple more hours), I only managed to go another 1.5 centimeters dilated. They discovered that my baby was actually back-to-back with his chin up and not tucked in. Around 9.00am on New Year’s Day, a consultant came to speak to me and my husband about our options. It seemed very likely that I would need an emergency C-section.
I’m not going to lie, that was my worst fear, and me and my husband sobbed whilst we digested the information we were given and the risks that were involved. Ralph was born by C-section at 11.25am. I don’t remember much about it as they had to sedate me quite heavily to stitch me back up as my stomach muscles were so tight. Nevertheless, he was out safely!
I’M A MUM/MOM!
Do you have any concerns about being a mom over 40? If so, how do you address these concerns?
Honestly, no! I don’t have any concerns about being a mum over 40, as I feel I have so much to offer my son BECAUSE I am over 40.
What do you enjoy most about being a first time mom over 40?
I feel so lucky to have a gorgeous son. I realize now that children are the greatest gift of all. I feel that because I had my son later in life, I have been able to live my life to the full up until this point. And, he is the next, most remarkable chapter!
I have had 4 different careers up until I had him. I feel I would not have been able to do if I’d have had him when I was younger. I feel more financially stable, more confident, mature and feel quite happy ‘winging’ motherhood. Ralph is so much fun and we have the best time doing lots of different things: meeting other mums and babies, attending baby groups and classes, experiencing things I never knew I would. It’s great!
How has becoming a mom changed you?
I think if you asked my family and close friends how becoming a mum has changed me, they would definitely say it has had a calming effect on me. Whilst Ralph and I are always out doing something or as a family (including our pets) we’re always busy. I’m definitely not as wild or as manic as I used to be. Having children definitely makes you put things into perspective and makes you focus on the really important things in life.
Also, as I had post-natal depression, I think I really appreciate everything I have and everyone who supported me and my family unit during that dark time. And weirdly, since becoming a mum, I love my husband even more than I did before. He is so supportive and is a wonderful father to our son.
BECOMING A MUM/MOM AFTER 40 ADVICE
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 40?
If you wish to ‘live your years’ before having children, then I see no problem with having a baby over 40, as long as you are fit and healthy. And as they say, age is merely a number!
I know I would never have been up to the job if I had done it when I was younger. As an older mum, I feel more confident in the decisions I have to make as they are based on experience and wisdom.
I may have had 4 different careers but this, this is the best job ever!
InSeason Mom Cynthia thanks Natalie for encouraging women across the globe by sharing her pregnancy and birth story as a first time mum/mom over 40. If you would like to share your story as a first time mom over 35 or 40, please email firstname.lastname@example.org