So what’s it like having a baby at 40? Pretty much the same as having a baby at any other age. Well, sort of.
Having a baby at 40 – the potential downside:
1. If you are pregnant, you are Advanced Maternal Age.
You are most definitely considered advanced maternal age, or even a geriatric pregnancy. Ouch! (Nothing like making a new mom-to-be feel like a grandma instead.)
What does this really mean? It means that your doctor is going to watch you closely, especially at the end of your pregnancy. It is important because there are diseases that may have been dormant and can manifest when the body is under the stress of pregnancy. There is also a higher risk of genetic issues with baby, birth defects and birth complications. (I am a case-in-point but we’ll talk about that another time.) There will be lots of ultrasounds and stress tests (like way more than any mom under 35 with a normal pregnancy). Some doctors will also automatically refer to you as “high risk” while others are more comfortable as long as your pregnancy is otherwise going fine.
2. Growing Apart
I’m not talking about your spouse or partner here so much as maybe your friends. Many of our friends had been childless either by choice, default, or infertility. The rest had teenagers or even college age children. By then they were ready to be empty nesters. I am pretty certain that there were those in both camps who thought that we were nuts for starting a family when we did. My experience was that they became more distant or dropped out of our lives altogether after the baby came home. This makes some sense because aren’t relationships really based on shared interests? Now we were going in very different directions.
3. Tired, oh.so.tired…
Let’s face it, energy levels drop as we get older. It’s a natural thing as our bodies age and hormones shift. The sleep deprivation of a normal newborn, let alone a colicky one, is torture. Self-care is pretty much mandatory for older parents to keep up with their new little ones.
4. Retirement, what retirement?
If you are bringing home your first baby either through adoption or pregnancy, chances are you’ve spent some money to get there. In an age where income is not keeping up with inflation, this can be a real issue for future retirement.
Having a baby at 40 – the potential upside:
1. Financial Stability
Likely by now you’ve been working for years. You may have put some money away so you are more prepared for the cost associated with having a family. If this is you, rock on!
2. Emotional Maturity
This is a big one really. I mean our maturity level in our 40s versus our 20s? Hands down, 40s win. We’ve learned a lot at this point in our lives about what really matters and we’ve waited for this moment. Hopefully we are able to savor the time that much more and soak it all in as they grow all too fast.
3. Relationship Stability
If this is a couple becoming first-time parents, chances are the relationship is more stable as the partners are more mature. Typically they are better at handling conflict which means a more peaceful home. This gives the child a more stable environment overall.
We all know how important gratitude is in general. It is especially powerful here. Parents who’ve waited until their forties to start a family have likely been through infertility treatment or adoption. They may have experienced miscarriage or neonatal loss. Many of these babies are “rainbow babies”, aptly named for the beauty they bring after a loss, much like the rainbow after a storm. Parents are grateful and a child senses this. The parents may also therefore be more attuned and appreciative of all of the little things. I know that for me personally, this translates into my love of photography. The moments pass so quickly and I just want to capture these precious days while I can.
If you became a first-time parent at 40+, I’d love to hear your experience. Come on over, join the community, and grab a cup of coffee or tea and chat!