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