Guest Post: Pregnancy and Parenting as an Older Mum

This guest post is from the lovely Lisa Farrell who you can follow on Twitter here. She has previously written a post on DorkyMum about her daughter’s imaginary friend Polla, but this honest and moving post is about her journey to motherhood.

My 4 year old daughter, my youngest, starts school this September. I have, in the last few weeks, put in her application for the local infant school where her brother went. She will be very happy there and she is DESPERATE to go. I, however, am finding this year a bit too emotional. She is my last baby and she is growing up so quickly I can barely believe it.

I had L late; I was almost forty when she finally showed up. This was never part of my plan; I had never intended to be an older mum, but things don’t always go according to plan, do they? Being about to send my youngest off to school, I have been thinking a lot about those dreadful few years when I thought I wouldn’t be able to have another baby. Of course, I felt totally blessed to have B; he is a delightful, affectionate boy who is full of life, music and football! I was totally content until he was due to start school, when I suddenly started to cry at the sight of any babies. I knew it was time to try for another. And B was desperate for a brother or sister, so all seemed good.

It had taken three months to conceive B so I was confident that it wouldn’t be too long until we had another little Farrell keeping us up at nights. It just didn’t quite work that way. Three years it took; three long years of disappointment, looking after myself, eating the right things, not drinking, only to find at the end of each month I had failed again. The anxiety and pressure was so bad, and what was worse, Mr Farrell didn’t seem to understand how much each month was like a punch in the stomach for me. His attitude was, “Oh well, we’ll try again”, and to this day I don’t think he appreciates how full of despair I was.

I had given myself a cut-off point of the Christmas after my 39th birthday. If there were no baby by then, there would be no baby at all. I was therefore delighted when, the October before, I became pregnant at last. However, my joy was shortlived when I lost the baby the weekend of my 39th birthday. Those next few weeks are still a blur. I had some time off work (and so did Mr Farrell which really helped) and everyone was kind. I was amazed at how many stories people had of their own miscarriages; it was far more common than I had thought. But I decided I didn’t even want to think about babies for a few months. We would talk in February about what the next step would be, but not before.

At the end of January, I had a virus, or so I thought. A week or so later I took a pregnancy test and found it was positive. We tried to work out when I had become pregnant and, when we narrowed down the date, we were gobsmacked. According to my carefully plotted cycle (I had been at this for three years, after all!) there should have been no way I could have got pregnant on that date. I could only imagine that, after the miscarriage, my body was so out of kilter that anything was possible.

I had a wonderful pregnancy with B. This one was a totally different beast. All day sickness and unimaginable tiredness for the first thirteen weeks whilst I was also petrified of having another miscarriage. But L was a tenacious beggar. I got through this time and then knew that I just had to get past the blood tests and all would be OK. I was fully prepared for being higher risk than with B, I was in my 40th year after all, but nothing prepared me for the 1 in 13 chance of having a Downs baby that came back. There followed a few desperate weeks when I had to visit the hospital to discuss options (the most horrendous thing I have ever had to do; thank goodness my mum came with me for support), the decision to have an amnio, even though this increased the risk of miscarriage and my husband’s utter refusal to discuss the worst case scenario.

The day of the amnio was both the worst and best of my pregnancy. I had a fantastic female consultant who was incredibly reassuring and, as we watched my baby on the ultrasound, she laughed as L grabbed hold of the needle in an inquisitive way. “There is NOTHING wrong with my baby”, was my overriding thought that day, although I then had to rest and hope there would be no miscarriage.

There wasn’t; everything was fine and, despite pelvic problems and being in the middle of having a big extension to accommodate the baby, the pregnancy progressed without hitch. L was born on the 5th October, two weeks late, in no rush to come out. She is my little miracle baby who has brought real joy and a sense of completion to our family. But she is growing up so quickly and I am trying, amongst the madness of everyday life, to savour EVERY moment.

3 responses

  1. I had my first and maybe last baby at 39. Conceived fast but the pregnancy was difficult. Exhaustion and depression in the first tri-mester was a killer. So glad you were able to have your little girl in the end. 1 in 13 – you must have been petrified – I cant imagine the anxiety you must have felt. My little one was born 16 days late!

  2. Yep – it is a worrying journey. I filled in the school admission forms for my son last week – born just 10 days before my 46th birthday. I don’t think of myself as an ” older” Mum though – I have been doing this job since I was 19, so it is part of who I am.

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