I felt young when I had my first baby. I was in my late-twenties but had always imagined I wouldn't get started until I was in my thirties. You see, I just had too much to do and didn't need a baby slowing me down. Turns out, sometimes they don't slow you down but speed you up. Regardless, as time passed and the number of babies increased, so did the number of candles on my birthday cake. Last week I blew out 38 of the damn things.
Generally I'm not bothered by aging. We all know that 40 is the new 30 and having babies a little later in life is getting more and more common. I went into this pregnancy feeling well and up for the task.
But the issue of maternal age has always been a discussion point. In days gone by, the older mother was frowned upon. My grandmother gave birth for the last time at the ripe old age of 46 and was subjected to some pretty rude comments. While in hospital delivering her last baby, a nurse scolded grandma telling her that she should be "ashamed" of herself. In addition, she had to cop the grief of some of her embarrassed teenage/adult children.
While those social stigmas may no longer apply, maternal age is still relevant. Somewhere between my fourth and fifth pregnancy, I reached the magical age of 35-years-old. Apparently from there on in, it all goes down hill for pregnant women and their fetuses. I began being treated as though I was elderly - amnio offered around every corner and suggestions of a tubal ligation during the c-section to avoid another pregnancy at this late stage in life. It seemed odd to me since I had been pregnant with my fourth child only a few months earlier. Apparently my 35 candles put me into a whole new statistical category intended to scare off the faint-hearted mamas.
It's one thing not to be bothered by becoming a mother in your late thirties, but another entirely when you have to surround yourself with young mothers. For those who have followed this blog, you may recall that there have been three recent weddings my children have been involved in. Well, my three bride cousins have now either just given birth or are just about to. Did I mention that these bride cousins were born in the 1980s?
So if you happen to be at a park this summer and see three energetic new mamas looking like teenagers with their noticeably absent crows feet, those are my cousins. You'll easily recognize me with them - I'll be the old hag with the bags under my eyes.