Isabel shares her uplifting pregnancy and birth story as a first time mom over 35, an InSeasonMom- after a miscarriage!
Age you gave birth: 39 (Just a month shy of 40)
State/Country of residence: California
Child’s name: Valentina
Current or former profession: Designer
How long were you trying to get pregnant?
The first round/ time, about 7 months. I had a miscarriage. The second round, just 1 month. From the ages of 30 through 37, I was in an on and off relationship (and engagement) with someone that didn’t want children, so I wasn’t even able to try to conceive then. It was very hard to choose between the love of the man I wanted to marry and my dream of becoming a mother. I wanted to at least try to become a mum.
What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 35?
I took CoQ10, prenatal vitamins and 1 gram of queen bee’s royal jelly with breakfast everyday. At night, during the evening, I took primrose oil. Although I have never been a salad person, my dream of becoming a mother was stronger, so I ate a salad for lunch. I stopped eating pastries and reduced my sugar and alcohol intake.
Also, I increased my yoga and meditation practice to 4 – 5 days a week. I started acupuncture for pregnancy at 35. I did acupuncture every Monday and continued even while pregnant.
How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
Very supportive. They were thrilled because they knew I wanted to become a mum for a long time, especially my Ob/Gyn. She saw me and treated me for two medical conditions: Uterine fibroids that were discovered at 32 and HPV, my cells came positive when I was 34.
At age 34, I underwent a LEEP surgery. That was a very scary moment because my fertility was in danger. My Ob/Gyn was always clear and direct about my choices and kept it real for me. So, of course when I told her I was pregnant, she wasn’t surprised because we had been working hard on preserving my fertility since I was 32. She also knew about my struggle with my former “fiancee” as that was a huge challenge on its own.
Did you change doctors or would like to have changed doctors? Why or why not?
No, I was very happy with both my Ob/Gyn and my regular doctor. Both were females and both had their first babies in their late 30s. They both also knew snippets of my personal life and one way or another coached me to go “solo” on my motherhood journey.
Family and Friends
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told me about your pregnancy?
Most of them were very happy. They knew I had left the love of my life to pursue the dream of my life. A few were a bit less enthusiastic as they knew my love situation wasn’t ideal. They just wanted to protect me by making me aware of how much work mothering a baby was. Girl, were they right … but it’s also so beautiful.
LABOR and DELIVERY
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
Almost everything! The contractions and support from my partner to survive them. The Peanut Birthing and Yoga ball.The music we played and our mantras. Singing to my baby girl as soon as she was out and on my chest.
The Morning Before Baby Arrives
On Wednesday, January 30th I went to bed as always with a full pregnant belly. My dog was there, as always. When I woke up at around 2 AM to go to the toilet I felt a drip of water coming down my legs. I thought it was urine as my bladder was receiving so much pressure. After going to the toilet, I noticed my dog sniffing my legs in an almost obsessive way. She never does that in the middle of the night. Certainly there was a different scent coming from the drip. I went back to bed because the drip was so minimal and slow.
At 6 AM we woke up again to have breakfast. The drip of water was still there, and was still quite light and slow. I decided to call the nurse, she told me “seems that your water has broken.” I imagined my water breaking was going to be like in Hollywood movies—a huge gush of water. This was just a small tiny bit of water coming down. She told me to call the doctor again at noon.
I went about my day which included taking my dog for a walk. This time something told me I needed to give my dog a special walk because it could probably be our last one before the baby. As we were getting back home, I could feel the drip of water getting a bit bigger, yet still subtle. I had lunch, gave a bone to my dog and at 12:30PM called the doctor.
Her assistant told me to go to the hospital. My hospital bag was ready and next to the main door, but I was reluctant to take it. I thought they were just going to check on me and send me home. I was having Braxton Hicks but I had them on and off for the past month so they didn’t mean much to me.
To my surprise, when I checked in, they put a wristband on me and told me I was staying! At that moment I called my partner and told him the time had come. He was working. I was cool as a lettuce and told him to finish his shift and come afterwards. I can’t believe I was that relaxed (perhaps too much meditation)!
Baby Is Coming
By the time my partner got to the hospital my contractions were increasing. I received Pitocin. By midnight, contractions were in full mode. We did breathing exercises, used the Yoga ball to help me cope with the contractions. I didn’t want to take the epidural. We used the Peanut Birthing Ball and it was a life saver.
By 4:30 AM I had dilated 8.5 cm but couldn’t take the contractions pain any more so I screamed “Epidural”! Thanks to the epidural, I was able to stop breathing heavily and was able to nap, or at least try to nap. The Peanut Birthing Ball was in between my thighs for an hour or so. At 6 AM, I was fully dilated and the pushing journey began.
Pushing while half of your body is asleep was so weird. At one point I freaked out as I couldn’t feel my legs and started thinking what if there is an earthquake. How on earth was I going to run? Now I laugh but then I was actually scared.
At 1 PM my OB/Gyn, who had the day off, arrived. She told me I would either have to push my baby out or I had to get a C-Section because my baby’s heart was slowing down. And then in less than 5 minutes, the room changed. There were 4 nurses with my Ob/Gyn looking at me and saying, “Ok Isabel I need you to give your 110%.”
My partner grabbed my left leg high and my hand. We looked at each other and with that look he gave me all the possible power. I gave it my 110% … and voila … there was my baby love on my chest. That was such a surreal moment. I was crying tears of happiness.
My baby was there with me now. My partner was crying too. Nothing compares to that moment. It was the happiest moment of my life!
Do you have any concerns about being a mom over 35? If so, how do you address these concerns?
My energy levels are not the same as if I was in my 20s or early 30s, so sometimes I worry about not giving my 100% to my daughter when she needs an energetic mum. But then I remember that today I am a wiser woman and what I don’t give her in energy, I give to her in wisdom.
What do you enjoy most about being a first time mom over 35?
Having tons of experiences to share with my daughter. I lived life and traveled and can share all of that with her now.
How has becoming a mom changed you?
Shifted my goals. It’s not any more about just me. Now it’s us.
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 35?
Relax and enjoy the process. Enjoy your time and go out with friends. Life does change after becoming a mother and that happy hour or yoga class becomes more difficult to plan. Most importantly, remember that the universe has a plan for you whether it be mum to your natural child or someone (something) else. Approach it with an open mind. I know it’s difficult, but when I started that approach, I think it was when I was able to get pregnant.
I want to highlight that in some cases the challenge is not necessarily being able to get pregnant. It’s finding a partner to embark on the adventure with. When living in a big city like NYC, LA or any other, sometimes it is hard to find a partner that wants children. In my case, I bit the bullet and went almost solo. But the universe conspired and brought a willing partner at the 11th hour. If it’s meant to be, the universe will help you.