Celebrating the rise of fabulous forty something Mummy

I like to think I am cool and I support this flimsy view with the fact that I have something in common with Julie Anne Moore, Jo Whiley, Madonna and Mariella Frostrup, not to mention Susan Sarandon, Nicole Kidman and Cherie Blair (although I tend to play the me and Cherie thing down).  Is it a high media profile and access to a make-up artist that comes to my home, red carpet invites? (I can dream) None of the above. We are all ‘older’ mothers, that is we had babies over 40.  Obviously, I don’t know the circumstances of any of the above pregnancies (although if you care to read her book Cherie has pretty much given us every detail of hers) so I would like to emphasise that I appreciate that I am blessed as I know sometimes leaving it late means it’s too late. 

I not unusual, I am part of an increasing trend. In May, the Guardian reported that more women over 40 are giving birth than ever before, “bucking an overall trend” which saw a drop in the number of births since 2001. In 2009 the number of women over 40 giving birth was the highest since records began, whereas in other age groups the numbers are dropping.   The Daily Mail reported it has “DOUBLED”, over the last decade.  I’m not sure why they felt the need to put ‘doubled’ in capitals, but I guess it may be something to do with the emphasis they also give to ‘risks’, ‘leaving it too late’, and ‘prioritising careers’.  I don’t read the Daily Mail, I found the “DOUBLED”  when I googled “Motherhood over 40” .   I get the impression that they may not approve  – I’m over it.

Of course, there are risks associated with later pregnancy and in my experience women over 40 going into pregnancy have a significant awareness of the risks, do their research and ensure they get the right support.  Speaking to my friends with babies; younger women and my peers,  I don’t think we cope any worse that women in their 30’s with sleepless nights and the demands of new baby.

Why did I leave it late… I’m a bit of a late developer anyway but actually, when looking at lists of women who’d become a Mum over 40 one named popped up that made my smile – Helen Fielding, author of the Bridget Jones Diaries.  I grew up assuming, like most girls do, that I would have babies. By the time I was into my 30’s I was well into my own Bridget Jones experience and it just never happened. At the end of my 30’s I had resigned myself that  it wasn’t going  to happen to me. Then I was met Mr Right and I saw an opportunity and I grabbed it. I was lucky and the rest is……. nearly 3 with more chat than Jonathan Ross…. history, as they say.

Maybe for Mariella and Julie Anne etc it was about their career, for me it wasn’t about prioritising a career it was more about not meeting anyone who wanted to make that commitment.  Articles about the stats on older mothers always seem to mention the “prioritising career” thing. Can someone please explain to me where are all articles about Men in their late 20’s and mid 30’s – “how I want to swap my season ticket for a Bugaboo…. but all the women I meet are prioritising their career”. Oddly, for all the older mothers I meet, I find an older father. The Guardian featured older fathers a couple of weeks ago including Ken Livingstone a father in his 50’s, and Antony Beevor 40’s and John Simpson 60’s.  Ken said he would not have been able to balance family life with his political ambitions of his younger self, other than that there was no discussion about leaving it too late because of prioritising careers. I sniff double standards here.

Whatever the reasons some women leave it until their 40’s  I would like to say, just for the record, I think women over 40 make fabulous Mummies, I find, there is a tenancy to be a bit grateful which makes us feel all the more blessed and appreciative.  Of course, all mummies are fabulous. Mostly, I think it’s about how you feel not how old you are…

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. ~Mark Twain

12 Comments

  1. 21stcenturymummy

    In Fulham/Chelsea where I live, there are loads of mums having children in their 40s.

    It really annoys me when you hear people saying women should be encouraged to have children younger. Yes, there is obviously less risk but what if you don’t meet the right man, or if you’re simply not ready. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 29 and he was 25 – he definitely wasn’t ready!

    Sometimes you can’t plan it anyway. I had a miscarriage before my daughter was born (I was 33) and have had several since. I don’t think that’s particularly old but she’s now 3 and I’m still trying. And I’d like 3! So at this rate I’ll be 40.

    My only worry is that I definitely don’t have as much energy as I did when I was in my early 30’s. I get tired looking after one.

  2. Debbie O'Connor

    Any age is the right age, if you ask me. I was determined to have all my kids by the time I turned 30 because that was the age my mum was when she had me. But that doesn’t work any more. I had a more fulfilling career than she did and didn’t even meet my DH until I was 29.
    you can’t look around at others and judge when the right time is – it just happens…

  3. tawny

    Out where I live in rural Bucks a lot of the mums are older. I had K when I was 23 and I was the youngest by over 10 years. I don’t think there is a ‘right time’ if you are 20 or 40 if it feels right for you then it is right!

  4. marisworld

    Hello! My case is slightly different as I fell pregnant when I was 21 and ended up having two children with that man, the marriage failed after 18 years and I returned from Italy to the Uk, in time I met my prince, I was 38. He said he would love kids and I was right up there for trying again. it took us 3 miscarriages, one at 21 weeks which was particularly heart breaking but we did it AND got twins too!
    You know I fell pregnant unexpectedly this summer (I thought I was well over that problem aged 44) sadly it failed by week 8 BUT I would have been happy to go ahead again and it has left a niggle at the back of my mind hard to eliminate…
    Nice blog and nice to meet you 🙂

    1. helloitsgemma

      hi, I read your blog yesterday and left you a message – (probably in the style of an over keen fan). Thanks for dropping by and thank you so much for sharing, a very similar experience to Tillytatas. Wonderful that it all worked out in the end, but what a journey, and lovely to meet you too.

  5. Tilly

    I had my daughter when I was 31 with my first husband. We split up when I was 36 and then I met someone who was 12 years younger than me. He definitely wasn’t ready for kids at 24. We now have 2 boys who I had when I was almost 41 and almost 44 (I’m now 45). I’m definitely more knackered now than when I was younger, but then hubby is only 33 and has enough energy to make up for me – lol! It is known that there is a higher chance of miscarriage the older you are. I had a very early miscarriage before I had Nipper and also another one before I had Tiddler (unfortunately with the later one we had a scan which showed that the baby had died and that was terrible to deal with). Because of my age we had all the tests during each pregnancy and my results came out as if I was in my mid-20’s. But having said that, we have recently found out that Nipper is on the autistic spectrum and it’s difficult to say whether my age is a factor in that. Very interesting post (here via BMB carnival btw).
    Tilly :o)x
    http://tillytatas.blogspot.com
    http://non-neurotypicalnipper.blogspot.com

  6. Anna

    Hi Gemma, Thanks for visiting my blog :-). It’s really encouraging to read your post about being an over-4os mum and to read comments from others. I’ll be 40 next year. I’ve a 2-yr old and a nearly-1-yr old. I have to say I’m exhausted but I love it. I wouldn’t particularly choose to be an older mum but I didn’t meet my husband til I was 30, we got married quickly and wanted to leave a couple of years before having kids. Then we went through unexplained infertility for 3 years. After the first I had a miscarriage (early on but still traumatic) and then I was very blessed to fall pregnant again very quickly. And I’d love another one! So, yes I’m an older mum and I worry about that sometimes for various reasons but I have the kids I was meant to have and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I still feel 21 in many ways (the creaky knees and every-increasing grey hairs are a bit of a give away though!) and those maternal feelings never leave you. Children are a blessing at whatever age.

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