Ok, fine. Yes. My lower back does hurt sometimes. It takes me just a little longer to get up from the floor and I might let out a tiny grunt or sigh when going to sit down on a couch. It’s not the end of the world.
The medical community would have us believe that we are hunch-backed old ladies in no condition to give birth at this age. And even if they don’t say it, they surely imply it. What a crock. Have you seen the video circulating about a woman who started weightlifting at 71 years old and is unbelievably buff? Her name is Ernestine Shepherd and she is now 80 years old. This is the world we live in now. Anything is possible. We just have to put our minds to it. And if you are able to have a baby (at YOUR age), it stands to reason that your body is perfectly capable of caring for one.
I worked in the field of developmental disabilities for more than 20 years and have seen people overcome amazing things. There are far greater difficulties to get past than age. And 40-something ain’t old. Ask any 60-something woman. She will long for the days when she was in her 40’s. According to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report of 2015, approximately 6.3% of babies born in the US are born to women over 35, aka advanced maternal age (AMA). That’s approximately 1 in 16 and the numbers continue to rise. I’d say that’s pretty darn common and should not be looked at as a high-risk minority.
[To put that into perspective, approximately 1 in 220 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. Ever know anyone with some form of cancer? Perhaps related to someone with cancer? I’ll bet the answer is yes. So, among fertile women having kids, a child born to a women over 35 years old is 13 times more common. That example is pretty morbid, but you get the point.]
Yes, we get it. We should understand the risks and take that into consideration. But there are risk factors and complications in childbirth that occur with woman of any age. AMA women don’t have the market cornered on risky pregnancies and problematic births.
So, here’s what to do if you’re feeling old:
First – Think about the 80-year-old woman who became a weightlifting competitor. If she can do that, you can do a few push-ups for crying out loud. And truthfully, you would be surprised at how quickly you can build upper body strength just from doing push-ups once a day (or at least every other). Start with the ‘girl’ kind and build up to using your full body weight. You should also throw in some core and lower back exercises. Superman and planks are great for that.
I was surprised by how motivated I became to get stronger so I could more easily handle the physical demands of parenting a small child. Getting larger biceps for the baby beats doing it for a date or for a diet weigh-in. It’s not just about looks anymore. I really want to be stronger. It’s a whole different thing.
Second – Eat a few apples and a green salad. And protein. At our age, we can tell a difference after eating even one healthy meal. Eating a meal packed with nutrients that support our bodies to function at optimal levels can have an immediate impact on our state of mind, energy level, and an overall feeling of contentment.
Third – Sleep in once in a while. Come on ladies; we have resources. Most of us have a few bucks in the bank. We have dedicated partners and/or friends. These are all the fruits of our experience and labor and we can use them to give ourselves a break. Get a sitter; make your partner get up early on Saturdays while you sleep in; fly to your sister’s, best friend’s or aunt’s house and have them wake up with the baby while you sleep late for a few days. They’ll love taking care of the little one and you get the gift of waking up whenever you feel like it and having coffee before you do anything else. Is there anything better?? Aww, just like the good old days.
Here’s the good news. We have so much going for us in the mental and emotional departments. I can’t tell you how much more emotionally stable I feel now than I did 10 or 15 years ago. I know a thing or two about the world and what to be grateful for. For one, I’m not concerned about keeping up with the Joneses. Yeah, maybe we don’t look the same as the 30-year-old moms but we more than make up for it with our ability to dismiss evil-eye glances and not give a crap about what that one guy at the gas station said. Who cares? It’s a shame they haven’t stepped into the 21st century and realized it’s perfectly natural to have kids at 39 or even 45. It if wasn’t natural, how are all these women getting pregnant without the aid of medical interventions? Precisely. And even if you did get pregnant with the assistance of a fertility procedure, your body still did all the heavy lifting.
Buck up. It may feel hard sometimes but the good news is we have darling little creatures with whom to share our lives and pass our wisdom along.
Bottom line – when we look back 20 years from now, do you think we’d be happy we had kids or that we didn’t have them? I think we all know the answer to that.