A lot to be thankful for

00049552A year and two thanksgivings into this turning 40/blogging about it/trying-to-make-a-dollar-out-of-15-cents process and I have more to be thankful for than ever. And no, a baby isn’t one of them (more on the accompanying photo later.) One of the things I’m most thankful for are the hundreds of Facebook fans, Twitter followers and subscribers to Women at Forty. I’m thankful that they come from all over the world, all walks of life and all races, cultures and ethnicities. I’m thankful for the community of women – some who are loving 40 and others who aren’t quite there yet – who read and share their experiences each week.

I thought I’d use this week to share some of my favorite WAF “thanksgiving” stories submitted by readers.  From becoming a mom for the first time (hence the picture) to deep self reflection, these women also have a lot to be grateful for. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I do.

Claire: On being Thankful to be a first time mom at 44

A Mum At Last

As you can guess from the title of this blog, I am a forty something first time mum. Or as we say here in Ireland ‘Mam’ or ‘Mammy’.

It can be a lonely business being a forty something first time mum. Many people of my age have older and even fully grown children. This was brought home to me at a mother and toddler group that I attended for a short while. The leader asked me if I was my two year old son’s ‘nana’ (grandmother)! I was horrified as I think I actually look pretty ok for my age (44). Maybe I have what is recently termed as ‘fatorexia’ and ‘age orexia’ because when I look in the mirror I see a fairly slim young one looking back at me!! I enjoyed the group but I left after a few weeks as it reminded me that I am indeed a bit of an oldie. Most of the other mothers and fathers were at least ten years younger than me!

Maybe you are wondering, if I am so worried about being an older mum, why I left it so late? The answer I will give now is I really do not know! The answer I would have given in my twenties and thirties about not having children would have been that I did not want to be poor, trapped and miserable. After all, that’s what had happened to my mother for part of her life, not to mention some of my peers who had children at a young age. And so, I spent my twenties and thirties in a partying haze, pushing kids to the bottom of my list. In fact, they really were not on my list at all!

Even when I married at age 34, I wasn’t that enamored of the idea. Luckily, my other half did not pressure me or seem to mind too much. In fact, he once said he thought I was too immature to have kids! The pot and the kettle come to mind in that regard! We both had good full time jobs and enjoyed going away, drinking and going out for meals. I didn’t believe in the biological clock either or that it would ever tick for me. What a shock I was in for!

At around age 38 , I suddenly started to take a big interest in my nieces and nephews. Although I loved them, I really couldn’t be bothered before. My brothers never asked me to babysit much and everyone said I preferred animals to kids! I guess, in hindsight, it would have seemed that way, but deep down I think I was just trying to avoid the whole issue. And issues about childbirth and parenthood I truly had. I couldn’t even bear to hear about childbirth or watch a scene on TV involving it. I felt it was a humiliating and degrading experience for the woman and that as usual the man got off scot free. It really scared me when I started to ogle babies in their prams, and wonder what it would be like to have a child of my own! What was happening to me? Had I been wrong about the biological clock because it sure seemed to have started ticking for me, however late!

I really started to feel I wanted a child and my husband felt the same. We tried, but unfortunately nothing happened except a miscarriage. I didn’t even realize that was what it was at the time so ignorant of all things of that ilk was I! As time went on and I hit the age of forty, I decided to forget about the whole idea. By that stage I felt that it was probably my own fault that I could not conceive. I had spent the best part of 38 years saying I did not want children. Now it seemed as if my body was responding in kind. I felt as if I had willed it into not wanting them either. I remember someone saying to me at that time, that since I was forty, I might as well face the fact I would never have kids. I was sad but decided to get on with life and not think about it. Parenthood is not the path for everyone and it is not in everyone’s life journey. I thought that was probably the case with me. I went part time in my day job and set up my own dog walking and pet sitting business and felt for the most part content with my life.

Then, out of the blue, at the age of 41, it happened! I was pregnant! And what’s more I was over three months gone before I even realized. I had lost track of my cycle because I had put it out of my mind. I was not sick and had no other symptoms. In fact, I felt great and had loads of energy. It was only when his nibs asked me if I had been keeping tabs on my cycle because he hadn’t heard me complaining about it for yonks, that it even crossed my mind. I was soooooooooo happy when the test came up positive. In fact, two tests and the one at the doctors came up positive, positive, positive!!

Other people were shocked and urged me to have all manner of tests done because of my age. I went for some private counseling just to be sure it was something we could handle. We then decided that we would forego the tests and just accept whatever and whoever was sent to us. I just knew then, that even if those tests had showed up any abnormalities we were ready for it. Thankfully, all was perfect and in November 2007 our beautiful son was born. It really was the best day of my life! Now I knew what people meant.

If I had known before what I found out that day and what I know now, I would have tried to have children a lot earlier. I realize now that even if it did cause me to be trapped, that having a child is a wonderful, beautiful blessing. In fact, parenthood has not trapped or frightened me in any way. So far, it is a bonus and an enhancement to my life and I think I can speak for my husband there too.

Since then, I have wanted another child really badly. I have a strong longing for that but I also wanted it for my little son. I would like him to have a sibling so that having older parents won’t be a burden to him in later life. Sadly, I had a miscarriage last year age 43 and it was devastating. We are so so so thankful for the child we have and I am so grateful my body clock ticked loudly and woke me up before it really was too late!

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would become a forty something first time mum but here I am!!! Yippee!!

Claire Hegarty, lives in Dublin, Ireland with son, husband and 8 garden cats. She is on a career break from her job in Tourism and her petsitting business.  She is using the time to concentrate on parenting, blogging and following her dreams.

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