Last week, at the beginning of week 11, I had my first prenatal appointment with a fantastic midwife, Penni Harmon, C.N.M., at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) Hospital in Portland. James and I had been anticipating the appointment so we could hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
Already I find myself 8 weeks pregnant. I’m 38 years old, so time seems to fly by faster and faster as I age. Normally, I wish for the world to just s-l-o-w d-o-w-n some. But since the day I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had that can’t-wait feeling every day. The day that I can finally meet my baby can’t come soon enough.
My partner James and I have been together for two years, and since close to the beginning of our relationship, we discussed the possibility of having a child if things worked out well with us. I don’t have any children, but he has a 6 year-old son from a previous relationship and relishes the role of involved father. At our one-year anniversary in January 2012, we decided to officially start “trying” and I stopped taking birth control.
Like most parents, my husband and I always tried to make perfect choices, from the seemingly small (the perfect diaper pail) to the potentially life-changing (deciding how many kids to have). The longer we had our one child, the more we felt she was all we needed, yet the old myths continued to worry us: Would she be lonely and spoiled? Were we being selfish by not giving her a sibling? Would the task of caring for us in our old age fall on her shoulders alone?
Ask several women what they think is the ideal age for pregnancy, and you’ll get wildly different answers. Those who give birth in their early 20s benefit from seemingly boundless energy and über-resilient bodies; the 30-something new mom is grateful to have established herself in her career before taking maternity leave; the woman in her early 40s delivers with a strong sense of self and few qualms about being able to afford diapers.
Not long ago, I was bouncing with my 3-year-old twin boys in one of those street fair blow-up castles when—oops!—I felt a bit of urine spurt out. It happens a few times a year, typically during a forceful sneeze, and it’s a reminder that all is not the same, bladder-wise, as before I got pregnant.
I walked my 5th grader to her classroom on the first day of school this week. As I looked around at the other parents, I recognized once again that I’m one of the older mothers in the hall. I was 39 when I had this daughter; what my obstetrician called: Advanced Maternal Age. It’s not like I’m really old, but now, ten years later, as I stand outside the classroom, three things cross my mind:
1) Dang, these parents are young and
2) There’s no way I could show up here wearing sweats and a dirty pony tail like they can and
Carol Vaghar had a typical new-mom experience when she gave birth to her first child 15 years ago at age 28. “During my pregnancy, I’d met a crowd of other first-time mothers,” says the Newton, Mass., real-estate agent. “We got together weekly after our children were born. We formed a baby-sitting circle and also got together socially with our husbands.”
Especially for a first-timer, early pregnancy can be disorienting, and even the most thorough and caring doctor is bound to overlook some of your concerns. To help, we’ve come up with answers to some of the questions newly pregnant women ask most. Our expert is Raymond I. Poliakin, M.D., professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of What You Didn’t Think to Ask Your Obstetrician (Contemporary Books, 1994).
Experts agree that the best time for a woman to become pregnant is when she’s physically and emotionally ready, whether at 20, 30 or 40. But what is it like to be a mother at these different ages?
By the age of 43, Jamie Rhein of Columbus, Ohio, thought it was unlikely she'd have a baby. "I had never gotten pregnant," says Rhein, whose adopted daughter was then 9. "My husband and I had been going our merry way with unprotected sex for years." But when Rhein started craving Whopper Jrs., she knew something was up. At an age when many women were parenting teens, she was preparing for a newborn. "I went from shock to being pleased with the idea," says Rhein, now 49.