It really is kind of crazy, the things we seem to insist only learning, only by hindsight. Even though I've always been told that I would be a good mom and I've consistently had a special connection with kids (including ones I don't even know running up to me or literally clapping for me in random places like the mall), at almost 45, I think I've made peace with not having any. Or, at least not giving birth to any.
It's not for the reason that you probably think either. As a doula, I know that women are having healthy children in their 40s and even 50s. But when I look back over my past choices (including four abortions and opting to not aggressively pursue dating or to even be sexually-active in my 30s), there's a part of me that wonders if I ever wanted to be a mom. I can't help but think that it was more about subscribing to the thought I should simply because, well, that's what people with a female reproductive system are supposed to do…right?
Every 21st of the month, around noon, my period begins. The blood is bright red. There's no pain or clotting. Eggs are still dropping. Maybe once all of this stops, I'll start to freak out. But for now, if there is one word that I can use to describe how I feel, it's "peaceful." Truly peaceful. About being a 40-something single woman who can have children but doesn't have any.
If you're approaching 35, you just read all of that and you can't even remotely relate because on your Top 5 list of life accomplishments, becoming a mother is on it and so right now, you're not even close to being peaceful about your situation, I'm hoping that I can provide you with a little bit of reassurance that you and your biological clock can live in harmony; that not being a mommy (yet) isn't something that should totally consume you. Not at all.
Do Your Research
There used to be a time when if a woman was 35 or over and she wanted to get pregnant, her physician would give her major side-eye. "Geriatric pregnancy" was a term she didn't want to hear. But you know what? Most of the women I personally know had children in their late 30s and 40s. A couple of years ago, I was the doula for a 42-year-old mom. My godchild's mom is going to have her second daughter this summer and she's 37. One of my closest friends will be 60 when her daughter is 18.
These aren't random "freaks" of nature either. Articles like "Forty (or Close) is the New 20 for Having Babies" and "Why More Women Are Having Babies at 50 and Beyond" are also evidence that motherhood ain't just for those in their 20s.
That's not to say it's all smooth sailing. Reportedly, 30 percent of women between 40-44 have severe fertility issues, women over 40 tend to have more miscarriages, and after 45, having a baby with your own eggs is…very challenging.
But these are stats and each person's body is different. I'm just saying that you shouldn't assume that just because you're in your 30's or more and not a mom that you can't become pregnant up the road. Women are boldly proving that we can, so do your own research. The info you find just might surprise you in a positive kind of way.
See Your Doctor (Regularly)
What I said about me and my menstrual cycle wasn't meant to be TMI. I said it for a specific purpose. Knowing the signs of a healthy vs. unhealthy period can reveal a lot about what's going on with you, fertility-wise. If you have intense cramping, big and/or lots of clots, irregular periods, heavy bleeding (especially after the first day), very long or very short cycles, diarrhea and/or vomiting during your period or bleeding in between your periods, you need to speak with your doctor asap (it's also important to get an annual physical too).
Other things that can affect fertility include obesity, smoking, alcohol, too much caffeine, working out more than seven hours each week, Depo-Provera, thyroid issues, and stress.
I'm sharing all of this simply because there are some women who, once they do decide to get pregnant, have a difficult time not because of their age but due to their lifestyle. The better care you take care of yourself, the greater your chances will be of conceiving, even later on in life.
Check Your Motives
I've got a friend who is only a year older than I am. However, his mother is almost 20 years older than mine. What he is currently going through, I would be freaking out if I had to do it all. His mother is almost 90 years old and he's been the one who's had to worry about medical bills, insurance, and basically providing for her for…shoot, as long as I can remember.
Honestly, watching him is a part of the reason why I think I'm good on having a baby at this season of my life. I'm only speaking for myself when I say this, but I'm not just thinking about me and a little one over the next few years but what the quality of their life will be like as a young adult with a senior parent as well.
My point? Healthy parenting is synonymous with selflessness. It's beneficial to not only want a child "just because you want to" or "because all of your friends have one" but because there are some deeper reasons and advantages—for you and your baby—long-term.
Once your baby arrives, it's going to remind you on a daily basis that having them around isn't just about you. Make sure your motive for wanting one isn't just about you either.
There's a couple I know who've been having pretty significant fertility issues throughout their entire marriage. They're both in their 40s now. Whenever I mention adoption, while the wife seems pretty open, the husband is firm on "I want my own child." Years later, they still wait. With no child.
I get the whole wanting a baby that's the product of you and your partner. I also get wanting to preserve your (bloodline) legacy. But if there's one thing that gets my complete and total respect, it's people who choose to adopt (by the way, one of the best adoption stories I've ever heard is called "Chloe"; the universe is something!). It's truly love and selflessness personified.
And you know what? Hill Harper, T-Boz, Viola Davis, Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Keyshia Cole, Nelson Mandela, and Tommy Davidson are just some of the Black celebrities who can vouch for the beauty in adoption—either because they were adopted or they adopted a child themselves.
Life has a funny way of giving us what we need far more often than giving us what we want (or think we want at the time). If you really want to be a parent and you don't mind how your child comes your way, this alone should take some of the pressure off. You don't need eggs to adopt a baby. Just sayin'.
Trust the Process
A quote that gives me chills every time I read it is by a Pastor John Piper—"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them." As far as it relates to conceiving a child, just because it looks to you like nothing is happening, that doesn't automatically make it true. If you want to be married before having a baby, who knows how close you are to running into your husband. If you're over 35 and a couple of miscarriages have already happened, the third time may literally be the charm (my godchild's mom was pregnant twice last year; one was a miscarriage and her next baby is due in June).
If there's one thing that is guaranteed to work against your ability to get pregnant (and oftentimes a relationship too), it's stress (check out "Can't Get Pregnant? How Stress May Be Causing Your Infertility"). If the Most High is in agreement that you should be a parent, things will happen how and when they should. No relationship, no reproductive system, and certainly no biological clock will get in the way. Do your mind, body, and spirit a favor and rest in that. It's the truth.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Sabrina Dhowre Elba Admits To Not Initially Knowing Who Idris Elba Was When They Met
Model and entrepreneur Sabrina Elba recently recalled the intimate moments surrounding the fateful day she first encountered her husband, Idris Elba.
The couple, who have been together since 2017, met at a jazz bar in Vancouver when Idris was working on his film Mountain Between Us. Years later, in April 2019, following a whirlwind romance, Sabrina and Idris would tie the knot in Morocco.
Since then, the pair's love story has become "couple goals" among many for various reasons. The list includes the numerous times Sabrina and Idris have showcased their love on social media. Another factor contributing to the duo's likability is that Sabrina and Idris have displayed over the years that being with the right partner can elevate one's career or passion in life.
Sabrina and Idris have collaborated professionally in several businesses, including their Coupledom podcast and skincare brand S'Able Labs. In a June interview on Jemele Hill's Unbothered podcast, the 34-year-old opened up about the events leading up to when she met Idris and how she initially didn't know who he was.
Sabrina Dhowre Elba on Meeting Idris Elba
Sabrina, who was living in Vancouver at the time, said that the same night Idris was in town, she went out to a jazz bar for an event called Slow Jam Sunday for a friend’s birthday.
Around that time, the model was getting over a breakup and claimed she wasn't interested in a relationship because of how badly her previous one ended. In a past interview, Idris revealed that he, too, just went through a breakup before meeting Sabrina.
"This is so funny. I [had] just gotten out of a really bad relationship, so I was not this person. I was like 'men are trash. They suck.' I'm literally ready to switch it on up or something because I was so over it," she said. "I come to this party with a night off at work that I prebooked because I was working literally every weekend. But it was my girlfriend's birthday party, so I was there kind of by chance."
Sabrina also revealed that, coincidently, the night she took off for her friend's birthday celebration was the same night Idris had the day off and was convinced by his stunt double to attend Slow Jam Sunday.
"Slow Jam Sundays is an amazing night in Vancouver. It's the one night I would probably go to, but you wouldn't see me out often because I was a weekend worker. I was working at restaurants and service industry, your weekends are taken up," she stated.
"Idris was filming this film in Vancouver and had one night off in Vancouver because most of it was filmed sort of up north in the mountains. His stunt double convinced him to go to Slow Jam Sundays. By chance, we were both there."
Further into the interview, Sabrina disclosed that her friend was interested in Idris at first and went to flirt with him. However, the Daddy's Little Girls star dismissed the friend's advances because Sabrina had caught his eye.
When Sabrina's friend informed her about what happened, she admitted that although she tried to put up a front for her friend's sake, the S'Able Labs CEO was happy because she thought he was also attractive. Following the discussion, Sabrina and her friend went to the section where Idris was, and the couple realized how much they had in common, from the music choices to their background.
"So I go over, and we have like one of those conversations that you just feel like you've known this person for ten years because we're singing the same songs. When a song comes on that I love, he's like, 'I love this song.' I'm like, 'what?' Like I just had this like cultural connection. He's African. I'm like,' Where are you from?'" she said.
Sabrina On Not Knowing Who Idris Was After Meeting Him
As the topic shifted to Idris' celebrity status, Sabrina explained that she didn't know who he was until after it was brought to her attention by a few people she met outside of the bar.
"When I went outside, I realized because there's a group of people there, they're like, 'Oh, you're talking to Idris Elba,'" she stated.
When asked about how well-known the actor was when they met, Sabrina shared that Idris was widely famous in America but not so much in Canada and that the one film she saw him in was the 2009 thriller Obsessed.
Sabrina would add that even after being told who Idris was, she couldn't recollect where she knew him from until her friends mentioned the movie.
"Well, so the film that I had seen was Obsessed... I feel Idris Elba now he gets recognized so much. In that moment, unless you were kind of in that zeitgeist, he was definitely a lot more popular in America," she said. "I don't think I would've known it even when they said that was him. I was trying to remember, like, my friends were like, 'yeah, he's from Obsessed.' We're like, 'Oh, yeah.'"
After figuring out who Idris was, Sabrina shared that when she re-entered the venue, she doubted a relationship would form between them given his occupation, the short timeline he would be there to shoot his movie, and the constant temptation that could flock around him due to his status. But despite Sabrina's uncertainty, they would exchange numbers before she left.
"So I went back inside, we started chatting some more, and he was like, 'Let me take your number.' I was like, 'Alright,' and then I left," she stated.
The model explained the reason why she left the event was that her friend, whose birthday she was celebrating, wanted to check out other spots. When the night was coming to an end, Sabrina hailed a taxi to go home when she received a phone call from Idris. The entrepreneur revealed that the Takers star stopped her from entering the cab and urged her to get in the car he was driving, and they spent the whole night talking until 8 a.m.
"I got in his car, and we spoke till like 8 a.m. easy. It was probably like 2 [a.m.] at that time. We just had the most intense, amazing conversation," she said. "It was the first time I ever connected with someone to the point where I was like, I went home the next day called my friends, I was like, 'I think I found my soulmate.'"
Sabrina revealed that from that fateful night, she and Idris became inseparable. The couple would be long-distance for a brief stint of their union until they acknowledged how difficult it was to maintain that type of relationship. Sabrina ultimately decided to move in with Idris although she was skeptical at first, she claimed it was one of the best decisions she's made because she found her "soulmate."
Sabrina Elba's First Night with Idris Elba Sounds Like a Romance MovieModel and philanthropist Sabrina Elba joins Jemele to discuss her marriage to actor Idris Elba, and their heartwarming, love at first sight origin story.SUBS...
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Feature image by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Space NK