Today is my 44th birthday.
Sometimes I ask myself what in the world I am thinking adopting babies at my age. I will be in my early 60s when this next child graduates from high school.
This isn’t how I planned things. When I was still single at age 35, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would never have children. The health risks increase for mom and baby once mom reaches age 35. There wasn’t even a man on the radar, so I just assumed it wasn’t meant to be.
I had actually met my husband in Las Vegas earlier that year (a story for another day, perhaps). We did not hit it off and went our separate ways – he returning to Los Angeles and I to Cleveland. We became Facebook friends about 6 months later and started dating another 8 months after that.
Our entire dating relationship was long distance, and we decided pretty quickly that we wanted to be together. Ten months after we reconnected, we were married. I packed up all my belongings, listed my condo for sale, and moved to Los Angeles.
I was 36. Jeff was 31. (He insists that there’s not enough of an age gap for me to be a cougar, so I refer to myself as a puma.)
We talked about having a family before we got married. Now that the possibility actually existed, I reconsidered my assumption that I’d never have kids. I talked to my doctor about it, and he said, “Girl! [Yes, he actually said that.] My advice to you is to get to know your husband for a year or two, then have your first baby when you’re 38 or 39.” No big deal, right?
Despite our best efforts, the plan didn’t work out that way. I actually did get pregnant the first time at age 39, only to miscarry that one as well as another pregnancy later that year, after I’d turned 40. My third one would come 2 ½ years later after an unexpected pregnancy – and after we’d adopted our son.
People like to say, “Oh, as soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant! Just wait!” And I say, just don’t. Please don’t say things like that to someone who has dealt with infertility. Does it happen? Yes. It also doesn’t happen. Or in my case, it happens and you miscarry. Again. And you’re left wondering why extra salt just got ground into that proverbial wound.
So again, it wasn’t for lack of trying sooner. We signed on with our adoption agency in early 2015, and six days after my 42nd birthday, our son was born.
There are unique challenges to being an older first time mom. And being a first time mom to an adopted child adds an extra twist.
In many cases, I’m old enough to be the mother of the other first time moms I meet. So other than being moms, we often don’t have a ton in common.
I can’t swap pregnancy or birthing stories. I can’t speak to breastfeeding or postpartum recovery.
While many of my peers are sending their kids off to school – even college in some cases – I’m still changing diapers, translating toddler tongue, and reading the latest books and articles on feeding and discipline. Not to mention backing out on plans last minute because my kid is sick, didn’t nap today, or is just generally being a pill.
Sometimes I wish I could find the moms group for “over 40 first time moms who dealt with infertility and went the adoption route and are completely and totally exhausted.” That’s not too specific, is it?
I will also say there are some benefits to being a 40+ first time mom.
I am a much better mom than I think I would have been 10 or 15 years ago. I bring those extra years of life experience to parenting. I have mellowed with age. I’m a less uptight parent than I think I otherwise might have been.
I have also heard that raising kids while you’re older will help keep you young. I’m all for that!
But at the end of the day, I’m just grateful that I get to be a mom at any age.
I typically find myself reflective on my birthday, thinking about what has happened and what is to come. I hope when I reflect back on age 44 a year from now, we’ll have another wonderful adoption story to tell.
And that our family will have grown by one.