On Sunday, the three little fetuses inside me turned 23 weeks and on Monday, I turned 47. I can tell you with complete certainty that I never expected to be pregnant for the first time at this age. Not in my 20’s when I thought that surely I would be married by 30. Not in my thirties, when my mom said to me casually that she no longer minded if there was a significant other present. To be clear, there was never any pressure – my parents always told me to do what made me happy, not them. And while I knew I wanted to be a mom, the idea of doing it alone was far from the top of my list, and by the time I hit 40, I still hadn’t met someone I truly wanted as my partner in this journey, so I started another decade without becoming a mother.
I’ll continue to share more of the story of how we got to the place where we are now, with me carrying what looks like a basketball that aspires to be a beach ball under my shirt, as we go along, but this week, I wanted to reflect on what it feels like to be pregnant in what really can only be called my middle-aged years. Because it’s definitely different, and not just because I’m having triplets, that is something that is another entire essay. It’s weird, and wonderful and scary and spectacular, all at the same time. I wouldn’t change anything about it, because if I had done this younger, I wouldn’t be sharing this experience with my now husband, the soon to be father of my children, and really, now, in this moment, I couldn’t imagine this happening any other way.
Being pregnant is hard. Honestly, it’s probably hard at any age, but I can only speak to my frame of reference. I have friends who have said they loved being pregnant and they meant the physical experience of it. I love those friends, but I don’t understand them. I love the idea of it – I absolutely love that I am growing and nurturing our children, even now. That I get to be their vessel, their way into this world. That I am already helping to shape them. I do not love that one of the babies is always kicking or punching my bladder, that my back aches every day now, that I go to bed with the sound of my blood pounding in my ears thanks to the massive increase in blood flow from the triplets.
I don’t think it’s harder for me so much because of my age, at least in the physical sense. I am very active, I was working out probably six days a week before our embryo transfer. I eat healthy, I don’t drink too much. I was probably in as good or better shape when I became pregnant as I was in my 20’s or 30’s. It is harder for me because of the physical challenges I have been through. I fought through necrotizing fasciitis back in 2013, was hospitalized for a month and had 11 surgeries on my left leg in order to save my leg and my life. I fought back with a lot of physical therapy and made close to a full recovery. But that leg is not the same and it does not like all this extra weight in my belly, all these babies pushing down on damaged nerves and carved up tissue and muscle. I’m at the chiropractor now all the time. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does keep it in check.
My point is, I don’t believe age should ever be the reason we should stop trying to have children from a physical standpoint. Yes, you do have a ticking time clock in your ovaries. Those eggs are dying from the minute you are born. But science is good and can help with all that. Your body itself can be strong and youthful at any age. When I started the IVF process with freezing eggs back when I turned 40, my doctor told me about a 51 year old patient he had that delivered a healthy baby. “That will not be me,” I said at the time. I still maintain that for me, 50 probably would have been a cut off. But I am much closer to that than I ever thought I would be and so far, my body is not only handling pregnancy, but handling a triplet pregnancy, pretty darn fine. So you do you friends. Don’t ever think it’s too late for your body to make your dreams happen. Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t. I didn’t.
Sure, I worry that my belly skin won’t bounce back into place like it might have 15 years ago. And yes, I religiously rub belly oil and cream into it every day and plan to wrap that sucker up with a belly bandit just as soon as these kiddos come out. And yes, I will get it fixed if it doesn’t go back the way I want it to. Sure, I’m counting the days until I’m allowed to get a little Botox again, allowed to break out the retinols and other forbidden concoctions that help keep me not looking 47. And yes, I am hoping that my feet don’t spread, because I’ve amassed a nice collection of shoes, and I want to wear them again, because since the pandemic, they’ve mostly been languishing listlessly in my closet. But at the end of the day, I’m getting so much, these little sacrifices are just that, little. And also, fixable.
But all that aside, there is a wholly different part of this, and that is the emotional part of being pregnant at 47. And that, is where things get bit trickier, at least in my book. It’s the mental game you start to play. It goes like this. My children won’t even be three when I turn 50. I’ll be 60 before they become teenagers. People might think I’m their grandmother at their weddings. And on, and on and on. And yes, some of that is true. I will in fact turn 50 before they turn 3. That’s math even I can do. And yes, there’s a chance I might never meet my grandchildren. And that’s weird. Although I plan on living a really long time, so it could still happen. Unless my kids all embrace my personal lifeplan and wait a long time for kids too. It sucks to think about these things. But they are there, and they have to be dealt with.
The thing is, I have to be okay with them, they are part of this choice. And it is a choice. One I am so glad I have made. The other choice I’ve made is to stay young. Maybe not physically, I can’t control the forces of gravity, though I fully plan to fight it with a full arsenal. But in my heart and in my spirit, I can be as childlike as I’ve always been. My husband regularly asks if I’m five. So I’ll continue to dance around the living room when the mood suits me. I’ll wear twirly dresses and say silly things and do somersaults on the bed just because it’s fun to get a little dizzy sometimes. Don’t worry, I’m not doing that now.
Sure, I worry about being tired, more tired than a 30-year-old first time mom might be. At least I never was one, so I have nothing to compare it to. Sure, I worry about leaving behind my kids too soon. Sure, I worry sometimes about what people might think, it’s real and fair, even though we aren’t supposed to care. The reality is that we sometimes do. I won’t pretend not to. But here’s what I don’t worry about. I don’t worry that I will resent losing myself to these three wonderful babies. I’ve had years to myself, to travel, to explore, to have adventures. That’s the beauty of doing this now. I haven’t missed out on anything. And now I get to focus on this next chapter in my life with a sense of contentment. I don’t worry about being a good mom. I’ve been through a lot of challenges in 47 years. They’ve made me strong and resilient and though I know it will be tough sometimes, I also know that I will figure it out. I’m not sure I could have said that 15 or 20 years ago. I’ve done hard when it’s just hard. This will be hard, but it will also be so much joy.
So when you see a middle aged mom out there with her little ones, don’t wonder what took her so long, or think how hard it must be, just be proud that women can now choose to do this at almost any age. That we can be adventurers first and moms later. That we can wait for the Mr. Right and not just Mr. Right Now. That we can do this on our own even, if that’s what we choose. And if you are on the fence about trying to start a family because you are worried you are too old, that it’s too late, then push those fears aside. They shouldn’t be the reason you don’t try. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, I always knew someday I would be. I didn’t know it would look like this, but now I can’t imagine anything else. I’m gonna love the heck out of these kids for every day I am with them. They are going to think I’m a dancing, giggling old fool at some point. And that’s okay too. Happy birthday to me indeed!
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