“Wow, you’ve got your hands full!”
“Are they all yours?”
“Don’t you know what causes that?”
“You guys need a TV in your bedroom.”
“You’re only ___ weeks???”
“Are you sure there is only one in there?”
These are just a few of the questions and comments that you receive when you have a crew of children, are over the age of 35, and are pregnant… AGAIN. It gets better — you show up at your midwife’s office for that first exciting appointment only to learn that your pregnancy is labeled “geriatric” and you are considered “advanced maternal age”.
I’ve always entered pregnancy with nausea, exhaustion, but more than anything….. excitement. My heart skips a beat at the sight of that second line. I excitedly call my midwife to schedule that first appointment and anxiously await that first sonogram confirming the heartbeat of a healthy baby (particularly after having 2 previous losses). My first 4 pregnancies that resulted in full term healthy babies, were textbook. Nausea and exhaustion-filled first trimester, energy boost in the second trimester, and heartburn mixed with excited anticipation in the last trimester. I always gained more weight than I should have, but it didn’t concern me because I was so filled with joy about the life that my body was carrying. I felt like a goddess, because isn’t that what every expectant mother SHOULD feel like?!? And as a nurse and childbirth educator, that is exactly what I want my mothers to know that they are:warriors and goddesses.
Now…. enter pregnancy number 5. I stared at those 2 pink lines with apprehension and shock. And even though this sweet little one wasn’t planned, he was oh so loved from the moment I knew that his body was forming inside me. That being said, it definitely has been a different and more difficult journey than it has been with the others. The comments mess with even the most confident mother’s head. My friends and family seem genuinely excited, but strangers often feel the need to comment, and unfortunately my husband has received the brunt of the “joking” (which by the way, usually isn’t very funny).
I have found myself becoming self-conscious, needing to always look put together so that people would think I could handle it all. I have become more concerned about my weight gain than I have ever been before. I am self-conscious of the body that is working so hard to grow a precious new life. I have been allowing the labels of “geriatric pregnancy”, “advanced maternal age”, and “mom of a large family” to consume. Let’s be real here, there are some serious physical differences that come with being older and having carried many pregnancies. I have more aches and pains. I’m more tired and a bit crankier. My belly is just plain BIGGER. I’m seeing grey hairs pop up and noticing a few more of those dreaded stretch marks. Combine all of these factors and it could make for one miserable pregnancy.
But you know what? I had to decide that if I chose to shift my perspective, there could be SO MUCH joy in this experience too. I’ve learned that I’m so much wiser — I appreciate every kick so much more because I know that this will probably be my last time experiencing it. I appreciate the gift of a healthy baby growing inside of me because not everyone has that blessing (again, particularly as a mom who has experienced losses). I’ve had to learn how to laugh off negative comments and realize that sometimes people just don’t know what to say (or might be speaking out of their own jealousy and pain).
I’ve had to realize that the facade of perfection doesn’t help other mothers who are looking at me thinking I have it all, wondering what’s wrong with her that she can’t handle her own one or two. I’ve learned that my stretch marks and grey hairs are battle scars. Scars of a warrior whose body has done amazing things. I reflect on the joy of adding another precious sibling for my kids to love and grow old with. And most importantly to me, I can relate in a greater way to mothers who have struggled with a more physically demanding pregnancy. Mothers who have gone through a bit of panic when staring at those two pink lines, and who have received the “less than enthusiastic” comments of others. I can look at them and say with complete honesty “Yes, sometimes this sucks. But dear mama, YOU ARE A WARRIOR. And it will be so very worth it in the end.”
Catch up with Emily and her family on Instagram here!