Starting a Family at 40
I’m three weeks away from giving birth. On my birth certificate it says I’ll be 45 on Wednesday. But then age is such a relative. Forty-five isn’t even middle aged anymore, especially if you take into account that many of us could live to 120.
I’m in the prime of my life. Pregnancy is all about abundance and here I am a pregnant, voluptuous woman in the juice of her fertile years. We have so many restricting mindsets and cultural limitations about age and the ideal time to become a mother. Why can’t it be an individual choice and remain a basic human right – not to be judged or tut-tuted at? For me, personally, being in my forties is the best time for motherhood because I feel mature and settled enough. I don’t see the pram by the door as a career obstacle. Nor do I mind putting designer dresses at the back of the wardrobe due to everything I wear getting covered in sick or dirty paw marks.
I started my family at 40 and this is my third naturally conceived child. Yes, you read correctly. I don’t think I’m a freak of nature or more fertile than your average woman. But what may be the difference is that I don’t believe the fear-mongering in society about fertility declining drastically as you approach menopause. We know that thoughts have a huge affect on the body’s chemistry, how cells behave, hormones work and nutrition is assimilated. Seeing as you get to choose your thoughts, I would rather have life-affirming, fertile chemistry running through my veins.
It was recently discovered that the commonly cited statistics about fertility declining drastically after 35 are based on whimsical data; birth records from centuries ago when women lived in shacks without electricity and died before they hit the big four-OH. Based on all the finger-waving about becoming barren around the time everything has fit into place for motherhood, generations of women have gone into panic mode. We changed our lives, stalled careers, threw out boyfriends who weren’t ready to abandon kidulthood , froze our eggs for ridiculous amounts of money and spent countless hours obsessing about getting older and that life wasn’t working out the way it should be.
It’s time to take our rights to motherhood and fertility back where they belong: In our own luscious ovaries. We’ve had them farmed and dictated to for far too long. Women have an abundance of incredible, creative energy and an enviable ability to conceive not only children but big ideas, fabulous projects and finally we get to change the world.
More good news is that there is scientific proof from the emerging field of epigenetics that our eggs can still be intact for reproduction well after 40. We know that the DNA molecule has within it the knowledge to heal if damaged, given the right environment, in the form of healthy nutrition and life-affirming thoughts. This is why I believe the months of follicle ripening are more important to egg health than the actual age of the mother.
I remember having the time of my life in my early to mid-thirties as a TV foreign correspondent, based in London. I was invited to all the glamorous, sexy press launches, private views and film premieres. I worked like a dog and partied like a lunatic. I lived alone, as a single girl, in a converted warehouse loft with an exposed brick wall and on the rare nights I wasn’t out, I ate Haagen Dasz ice-cream straight out of the tub, while watching back-to-back episodes of Sex and the City on cable TV. I’m so happy I did that then because it allows me to be the mother I am today. I lived a life before breeding. Not that I don’t have a life now. It’s very full, just in other ways.
If you are in your twenties or thirties and filled with anxiety because your environment is telling you it’s time for children, my advice would be to relax and enjoy the moment without regret or fear. These important, life-changing transitions can’t be forced. I do believe the universe is perfect in how it all works out the way it’s meant to for each individual. There’s plenty of scope to detox for pregnancy and focus on nursing positions once you’ve fit all the dysfunctional pieces into place. Just keep telling your ovaries that they have a while to go yet before packing up, send love to them daily because they’ll be needed, whether it’s for baby-making or changing the world.
This article first appeared in THE HUFFINGTON POST