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).
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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