One thing I was not prepared for was the intensity of baby craziness post-partum. After surviving the first year, my reproductive instincts just kind of grew from a whisper to a booming roar! But this obnoxious pang seems to forget how much one kid drains you, mentally and physically, and as much as I hate to say it, the older you are, the faster you feel your limits. I was 37 going on 38 when I had my son, and am now 41. The sad and unfair reality is when you’re thinking about having a kid, age definitely matters and it matters sooner than you’d think! I was 36 when my husband and I started trying, but we were having no luck. After seeing my doctor, we were referred to a godawful fertility specialist, who looked half asleep most of the time. After a cycle of invasive and annoying tests, she rudely told me: “You’re 36, that’s too old”.
I pushed back with “Yeah, but celebrities have kids in their 40s.”
Her reply: “They probably use donated eggs or gestational carriers”.
After much research, I learned that while she was definitely wrong about women practically being barren by 36-years-old, fertility definitely declines with age and pretty much drops off a cliff after 45. But as luck would have it, after leaving that terrible doctor, I got pregnant. It took six more months, but we did it. Pregnancy was full of nausea and fatigue, but honestly it was really amazing. And once he was out, I felt empty, hollow. Labour, birth and the fourth trimester were a nightmare, but your body just kind of forgets all that after awhile, and it convinces your brain that junior needs a sibling. Broaching the subject with my mother results in a worried look and “I don’t think that’s a good idea”, or “You’ll resent them”, and with my mother-in-law repeating “One’s enough”, in a tone less like an opinion, and more like a command. Hell, even my freakin’ hairdresser said “You seem pretty busy already”. I have a few friends who are also older moms who say I should go for it, but they admittedly had one later in life after their first was already grown up. Not a newborn and toddler. And when I talk to people about it, deep down, I hear a voice that says it’s over. When I was pregnant, I had a fortune telling reading done with a crystal. (Yes, I know, fortune telling is bullshit, but just indulge me ok?) The crystal swung back and forth apparently indicating ‘boy’, but only once. When I go to childrens play centres, I’m the oldest mom there, and watch glumly and resentfully as people in their 20s and early 30s bring in babies and toddlers. So it looks like the universe is completely against me having a second, which is weird feeling like I no longer have any say in my uterus. Just going to keep shedding those eggs until menopause and that’s it, all that potential wasted. Every month that goes by thinking: ‘Other people were smarter, they started sooner’, and kicking myself again for my ridiculous life choices. Of course, we’re lucky that we even got one, because not everyone can say that, but it’s just hard feeling like such a big decision has already been made for you and there’s nothing you can do to change it.
But are people with more kids happier? I mean really? Perhaps some genuinely are, but juggling multiple children definitely looks more exhausting. When I’ve visited peoples houses who have more than one, the space is pretty much overtaken by kids stuff and their chaos. The moms stretched and pulled in multiple directions, while they joke about “needing wine” and complain about lack of sleep. Don’t get me wrong, our house is a mess too, but it’s source is singular and after dropping him off at daycare, my house transforms mostly back into a place that has adults living in it. (Well except for all the videogames, and stuff from my and my husband’s childhood, *cough cough*) It MUST also be said that waiting until my husband had a good job was a good idea, and that kind of financial stability is a big advantage that many of those who got pregnant pregnant sooner don’t enjoy. Six years sooner would’ve probably been ideal, but I’m not even sure if my partner was completely done with school, articling and paying his dues at that point anyways! Plus, I got the harebrained idea to quit my government job to go to study graphic design, followed by art school. I learned a lot, except how to regularly make money, but that’s a story for another day.
I guess the point in all of this is that my partner and I lived and had full experiences-both good and bad-and grew up before we had a child and maybe we were fortunte to have that opportunity. It IS harder in many ways to be an older parent, but perhaps I should be grateful that I enjoyed that freedom of self-exploration while I was young.