I grind my teeth and it has been really getting me down. I have noticed it more and more lately and it was particularly bad when I was poorly last week and couldn’t wear my guard – I kept coughing so it was not staying in! You see, when I don’t wear the guard, I wake up with a stiff jaw, sore neck, aching masseter muscles and generally I feel tense – which doesn’t help me one bit with my coaching work or radio job, or in anything for that matter.
Apparently the massester muscle is one of the strongest muscles in the body and by definition it is muscle that runs through the rear part of the cheek from the temporal bone to the lower jaw on each side and closes the jaw in chewing.
After writing about my bruxism a few weeks ago, I had messages from women saying that muscle relaxant injections worked for them, so it re-affirmed what I was already thinking – to try it out. My dentist had suggested it a year ago and so this did feel like a natural next step for me.
Dr Tania Robakowska, who has a clinic in Westgate-on-Sea Kent, messaged me saying she would love to show me the benefits of injections for bruxism and I have to say I jumped at the chance. I’d hit a point where I was fed up. I hate grinding my teeth, the faff of cleaning the guard and more importantly the pain it gives me.
10 days ago, Tania and I had a Zoom consultation and she explained that botulinum toxins are used for all types of muscles relaxing and not just for cosmetic procedures. She told me that the toxin is injected into the masseter muscle to help to relax it. My first thought was “will I still be able to talk” and my second one was “I want that!”. Tania reassured me that I will be able to talk – phew – and that the complex mouth and tongue muscles are the power behind this (yep I am not scientific) and the fact of the matter was that for me, my muscles and working over time, and are actually really big!
Today I went to see Tania at her clinic in Westgate-on-Sea, which is actually a short walk from my office. She has a bright, immaculately clean large clinic space which is super welcoming. Tania took a number of photos of me doing the clench/relax/clench/relax thing and we had a good chat about the procedure before I signed her digital consent form.
Tania marked out the areas she wanted to inject (I did more clench/relax/clench/relax stuff) using a soft white pencil, designed for marking the skin. The drawings looked a bit like a triangle shape, which was pretty much the area of my masseter muscle.
Then it was injection time! I am not nervous about injections at all thankfully, especially when they are being poked into your face! eek. I can’t remember how many needle pricks (sharp scratch) I felt on each side, but I know from talking it through with Tania that we went quite low for this first dose of botulinum toxin, in this case she used the brand Azzalure. After the injections were complete, I was asked to clench/relax/clench/relax a few times to get the toxins into the right places within my muscles.
The effects of the toxin can take up to two weeks, so less is always more, and I am back in the clinic in two weeks to review the results., where a top-up may or may not be needed.
The after care advice was to chew chewing gum for a short while afterwards, not lie down (no chance of that – straight back to work for me) and to wear my guard until we see each other again in a couple of weeks.
Thank you so much to Tania – her approach is caring, subtle and I know she isn’t keen on over-doing it! I know that many people fear muscle relaxant injections because they are scared of looking super-shiny and fake – I know that Tania isn’t about that – she works with people nd really understands the needs of her patients. My injections weren’t for wrinkle smoothing reasons, but for an over-worked jaw because I grind my teeth – which, I hope, will soon be a thing of the past.
I have to say I am adding back onto the mix; yoga and stretching just help my feel even more relaxed. Teeth grinding is linked to stress, so it is really time to up the calm in my life – with three kids I’ll give it my best shot!
Stay tuned for Part 2 in a week or so.
Read my original post on my teeth-grinding (bruxism) here
Dr Tania Robakowska Address: 12 Cuthbert Rd, Westgate-on-Sea CT8 8NR Phone:07488 511050 Muscle relaxant injections for teeth grinding with Tania costs £300.
For years and years I had neck pain and just could not understand why, all I knew was that it was worse in the mornings. I used to do neck stretches, take pain killers, lie down and stretch when I could, but nothing quite solved it – so I just lived with it.
At a routine dentist appointment 6-years ago, my dentist looked at me through his splatter-proof googles and said “you know you grind your teeth, don’t you?” and as he uttered that one sentence, everything clicked into place. “So that’s why I have such awful neck pain!” I responded. Suddenly, the dull neck pain that I had been living with every day made sense. I am a teeth grinder. I am a bruxer. I grind my teeth.
Bruxism: involuntary habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep.
My dentist offered me a solution – to have a tooth guard made. He quoted £100 and I went ahead. After taking a mold of my teeth using a cold putty, he sent it to the “lab” and I collected it a week later. I was advised to buy a box of cleansing tablets to keep it bacteria free which I did.
I had no problems with my guard, I didn’t spit it out like some people do and I me and my guard were best buddies until about 4-months later when I noticed that I HAD GROUND THROUGH IT! Two holes appeared at the back where I had been scrunching down on it so hard it was no longer in one piece! Gawd. I called the dentist and I got a replacement, that cost a further £100.
A few months later I thought it would be a good idea to do what I used to do to sterlise my child’s baby bottles, and I plonked my mouth guard into a jug of freshly boiled water. The bloody thing shrank before my eyes and ended up half the size. Needless to say I swore whilst I witnessed this happening. I was so mad at myself – see ya later £100 and hello neck pain!
After a few attempts at buying some online bite guards and moulding them myself, which is a stupid idea because they just don’t work, I booked into a new dentist and she made me a thicker guard that cost around £150 and I still use it to this day. I clean it every day with a toothbrush and I use a retainer (or steradent) tablet in water to get it bacteria free and fresh.
But I don’t like using it. It is annoying. I forget where I put it sometimes, it has gone a yellowy colour, it can go a bit smelly (TMI but it is true), I forgot to wear it if I am tiddly, it is a bit embarrassing and I don’t like taking it away with me when I stay with friends. I just don’t like it.
Over the years, I have tried to ditch the guard in favour of face yoga, face massage, masseter muscle massage etc, but nothing quite works. Nothing stops me bruxing.
I now notice that I am clenching my jaw when I drive, so bruxing is part of my muscular make up now I think, but I wish it wasn’t. People who grind or clench their teeth have a larger masseter muscle and sometimes it is visible, especially on men. You must’ve seen a guy who has a moving jaw/cheek bit, well that’s it! the muscle itself is a useful muscle (they all are I guess) because it helps chewing, it also helps clenching too, which isn’t quite so useful.
I’ve heard that botox can help bruxism, and meditation can too. Since teeth-grinding is very much linked to stress, I can see why the meditation and relaxation can help, but how would freezing the muscle using botox be of use? Anyone?
I don’t feel stressed if I am totally honest, but maybe I am. Three kids, running a home and a business that I am picking back up after a rough lockdown all do add to stress, but I wouldn’t say that I am a stressed person. Blood pressure normal blah blah blah.
So what is the solution? I don’t want to wear the guard every day until I die because it is unslightly and a pain in the bum, I either have all my teeth taken out (no thanks!) or it is masseter muscle botox, is that the next step?
Are you a bruxer? Let me know what you have tried…
BRUXER, Confidence Coach, Make-up Artist and geriatric mum!
Over the last year the lack of proper connection with friends has been tough. I think some of us have forgotten the importance of friends. Zoom quizzes are one thing, but real life connection is quite another.
For me, I struggled during the pandemic for some reasons (kids, work, boredom, homeschooling) and in other ways I was feeling pretty good (time to focus, feeling more relaxed, time for my children) but I did have a feeling of underlying flatness and yet it was something I couldn’t put my finger on.
It wasn’t the endless cooking, cleaning and only seeing people who I had either married or given birth to (and the cat!) that was grinding me down a bit, instead it was the lack of laughter and being with friends that know me well. I had missed the small-talk, the inspiration that friends unknowingly waft over to me, the idle chit-chat, the talking about where we grew up and being with people that I really really like.
Myself and two secondary school friends (one of which I hadn’t seen for 30-years!) booked a hotel stay in Cambridge as soon as we knew the lockdown restrictions were lifting and we got together at the weekend in the full glory of the british wet weather.
Actually, the weather was irrelevant. The meeting place was irrelevant. It was all about the people and our connection. I cannot explain how good it was to see people that I had grown up with. We were only at school together for 3 years, after which I moved school and mainly only kept in touch with one of them, but those years were probably the happiest of my life. I’d met people who were on my wavelength. We were giggly, silly, naughty, daring and we laughed all the time, and even after 30-years that hadn’t changed one bit. Within 10-minutes of seeing each other, I thought I was going to combust whilst we were reminiscing about some of the people at our school.
We laughed all day long.
I came away from the weekend feeling like me again. I hadn’t really realised that some little parts of me had faded over the years, but good friends can change this. Friends really do make things better.
Dictionary meaning: Friend; a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.
Seeing friends after all this time was a sensory delight and I believe that is what so many of us have missed; the 5 senses – Sight, Sounds, Smell, Taste, Touch. Our senses need to be used in order for us to understand the world around us. I believe that during lockdown our senses were only being used on a base level, at least mine were. Not many of us were doing anything new, and even if we were, the likelihood was that we had a mask wrapped around our face which obstructed one obvious sense; the sense of smell. There was also the social distancing and no touch thing, which for a lot of people is almost unbearable. Seeing my friends this weekend made me recognise that as humans we need to do new things, we need to use our senses, we need to be stimulated in order to feel good, we need to explore and have experiences – we need to see, hear, smell, taste and touch (that’s if we are lucky enough to have all of them working).
My weekend of laughing, walking in the rain, eating garlicky italian foods, drinking prosecco and limoncello, grabbing my friends arm, eating a slightly stale hotel breakfast in bed, sleeping in clean hotel sheets, reading through a menu, drinking tea with rubbish milk, borrowing my friends toothpaste, smelling perfume on my friends and sitting in a fusty taxi totally cemented that – and I feel better because of it. For the first time in ages I properly used my senses.
So if you are feeling a bit flat as lockdown lifts here in the UK, book something with friends that truly make you feel good, something perhaps that ignites your senses. It doesn’t have to be a boozy hotel stay like mine was, but a day out with good friends (without kids if you are a parent) to kick-start your sensory system will really really help your mood and your general wellbeing.
At the age of 45, I have just had my first COVID-19 vaccination. I arrived at the centre with a feeling of trepidation but didn’t have much time to dwell on that because once in the building I was ushered through to a seating area and within 5-minutes I WAS DONE!
As I was being checked in, a lady in a high-vis jacket said to me “Are you under 40?” and of course I said “don’t be silly, I’m 45!” and skipped off and let the compliment sink in. Under 40 – yes!
I was taken to a huge room with rows and rows of spaced out seats, shown where to sit and seconds later a young guy came over wearing a mask, a plastic apron, blue surgical loves and he was holding a tablet device thingy. He asked me a few basic questions regarding allergies and medication, tapped my answers into his device with his plastic-y fingers, and off he went. Whilst sitting on my designated chair, I was thinking that I recognised one of the nurses who was jabbing another patient – or is it the vaccinee?! Anyway, as soon as she’d finished she came over to me, and it clicked! She was my cervical screening nurse from a while back. I said to her “do you work at the _____ surgery?” she replied “yes” and I went on to say “You did my last smear test” and we both burst out laughing. Gawd. The reason I remember her is because she was lovely at my last appointment and we had a good old natter whilst she was doing the scrape – oooooo THAT WORD! Can you believe it is referred to as a cervical scrape? – makes me shiver.
I found the entire experience friendly, quick and I have the card that everyone is waving around on social media to prove it – me included. I thought I’d feel emotional, but I didn’t really, I just kept thinking what an enormous thing we’ve all been through and how lucky I am to have the choice regarding the vaccination.
I’ll report back in a few days and let you know how I am feeling. I think the initial trepidation I felt was linked to the vaccination side-effects, which are yet unknown for me – it’s only been 4-hours. This weekend, I am meeting two school friends from when I was 11-years old, and there is SO much to talk about and lots of cocktails to consume – I better not feel ill – we’ve waited years and years for this to happen.
Work / parent balance – is it possible? So many parents try to find the balance between work and parenting and it can be an almightly juggle. I can almost see you nodding to that. Let’s think about it from the female perspective for a minute. Working mothers have a juggle at hand and anyone who tells you it isn’t a juggle is quite frankly super-human in my eyes. Kids make work – that is not paid for! That work looks like washing, cooking, cleaning, sorting, tidying, homeworking, bedtimes, clubs, parties, school-runs, and that’s only about half of it. It a work that just has to be done – no matter what.
Add to that a job. I’m self-employed and have been for 17-years and I chose to be self-employed because I wanted to fit round my children. AND THEN LOCKDOWN HAPPENED. Working at home, from my bedroom, with 3 kids around my ankles and a cat on my laptop most days was a situation I never want to be in – ever again. God it was horrible. I started to work late, early and then bark at my kids. I was burying myself deeper and deeper into my phone and even “tweeting” when they were in the bath. That was always a big fat no in my rule book, but there I was doing it.
As lockdown eased in April 2021 here in the UK, my mind clicked into gear and I pursued an office space that I had wanted to take a year ago, but didn’t for obvious reasons. I got an email back from the office manager saying that she had one available. An office. All for me. I set to thinking about it. 5-seconds later I replied and let her know I would have it. I wanted it to be mine, all mine! (insert cackle laughter).
I joke, but I knew it was right. For me to develop my coaching business, have space to think and do and to get all my crap out of our family home (full professional make-up kit, paperwork, books and all the other office bits one seems to need) I had to make this move. My new studio/office space is dellightful. It’s got high ceilings, lots of light and no paw patrol figures, fidget toys, broken pens, scraps of paper and a half eaten apple. I honestly would go so far as to say it is life-changing.
My youngest child is 2, and goes to nursery 2 days a week. I come to the office for full days whilst he is in nursery and do a few hours on the other days. This gives me 20-hours of undisturbed time to coach, connect, email, film helpful videos and pay more attention to my thriving facebook group for older mums; We are Geriatric Mums. My work time is mine again.
What this also means is that I go home, in the car, and step into my house and am Mum again. I’m not glancing at my phone and trying to send emails whilst cooking. I’m fully present and already I feel nicer towards my children. I have been on the trampoline with my eldest, I have been reading properly with my middle child and playing “golfs” with my little boy. It works. The separation work. No more blurred lines.
So the only way I found the balance, is to move out! (into an office).
What is your working situation? Did you have a terrible lockdown, too?
I was featured on the BBC yesterday talking about my new office; see it HERE
Introducing Geriatric Mum, Kathleen, who had her first baby at 47-years old after a long battle of trying. Kathleen is a member of my facebook group, and despite her being across the world in Canada, she feels close. Her story is positive and wonderful and I am honoured to have her on the blog.
How did people react when you told them you were pregnant at an older age?
Everyone was super supportive, I think due to the fact that a lot of people had known about our fertility struggles and losses for over a decade. Honestly, people were so amazing. If anything, I was the one making jokes and self-deprecating comments, perhaps so others wouldn’t. I think the worst thing anyone said to me was after a loss we had 6 years ago, when I was 41, when my friend’s husband actually said I needed to get over the loss and it was my fault.
How did you find pregnancy?
Over the years, we tried everything to get pregnant, and the final decision was to use an egg donor. We live in Ontario, Canada and after a lot of deliberation we went to a well-known clinic in the US. I was very overweight and had a thyroid auto-immune disease and PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome). I lost 190lbs in two years after researching proper medication and putting in lots of hard work.
The very first donor egg embryo transfer, worked. I never, ever gave up hope and manifested, had vision boards and everything imaginable to help me to stay positive. I was 46-years old when I fell pregnant and 47-years old when I had him – I am now48 with a 15-month old.
I was excited to be pregnant, I loved my body and wanted a huge baby bump. I was never worried about gaining weight, I just wanted to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. The pregnancy was good, although I started getting sick at about 6 weeks, it was nothing serious, just vomiting and constant nausea – and this was a constant throughout the whole pregnancy. My baby was thriving despite the sickness and I lost 30 lbs however I wasn’t worried because it all felt like a blessing– even the sickness.
At that time, I would hear co-workers and friends complain about pregnancy symptoms and I felt jealous. also I felt quite anxious throughout my pregnancy due to my history of losses and even right up to my induction date, I was scared my child would be a stillborn – I think that I felt the fear to a greater extend because I had a friend this happened to. It took A LOT of positive self-talk and trying to live in the moment for me to get through, and looking back, I was really happy at this time in my life.
We attended a fertility clinic up until I was 10-weeks pregnant and then sent to a high-risk clinic at the big local hospital, which was about 40 minutes from our home. I was seen monthly until the end of my seventh month, then twice a month and finally, every week. I was induced at 37.5-weeks due to my age, which is standard here in Canada.
My labour was 20-hours and the delivery was awesome. My little boy was born with jaundice and a small lip-tie, both of which were easily fixed soon after his birth. Due to the maternity system in Canada I was able to take 12-months off with him and I had a further 5-weeks of holiday time that I had accrued – it was a special year and I breastfed him for that time.
Were you offered any memorable or unhelpful words of wisdom when you spoke to others about your pregnancy?
Honestly, it was a mixed bag. People shared awful stories, good stories – the good the bad and the ugly. I think that my age and my journey made me not stress about any of those things, I just felt so focussed about having my baby in my arms, and so was able to brush a lot of it off.
Describe how it feels to be an older (geriatric) mum?
The sleep deprivation at the beginning was tough. I was used to having a solid 8-hrs a night, and would never have classed myself as a morning person. Anyone reading this who is a mother will know that changes the moment the baby is born. The older and bigger he gets, the slightly more achey I am getting, for example when I am carrying him up a flight of stairs, but it is manageable and worth it.
For me, my biggest fear (and my fear of having another child) will be my age when my child/ren get older. I want to be around forever, with him, but I know that is not possoble. My husband is 42 and it different for him, he just doesn’t have the same worry. When I think ahead, I think about when I am due to retire and realise that my son will be the right age to go to University, and this feels hard. I often think about my own parents being such a huge part of my life and feel heartbroken that I won’t be there for him when he is my age.
How do the other ‘school’ parents react with you being older?
My son is now in day-care and I’m always the first person to bring up my age and story and the response from people is always positive. Thinking ahead to school – I am sure the mums will be so surprised when I roll up!
And finally, Kathleen, what advice would you like to share with other mums who happen to be older?
My advice would be to find your circle of friends – don’t be afraid to reach out. Finding We are Geriatric Mums was such a huge help and support to me, I found the Facebook group after I had him, but I know the support would have been equally as amazing prior to his birth.
I was advised not to buy a million things because they really need very little and it is true – I want all new parents to know this. The last year was absolutely not what I expected (the pandemic) and we all missed out on travel, visiting, playgroups and seeing the family. He hasn’t even met his cousins who live in Canada but far from us. In truth, I don’t have anything to whine about, I spent 13-months with the most delicious, loved, scrumptious baby that I had waited for forever.
For my own mental health (from the week we were home) I got properly dressed every day, and wore lip-gloss, blush and put my hair up – it helped me immensely and I would advise all new mums to do the same, where possible.
I’d say to enjoy the times when they are sleeping a lot, that will change! Also, don’t Google things – instead talk to friends or other Geriatric Mums for answers. Googling just leads you down a rabbit hole of worry which isn’t healthy for you, your partner or your baby. Please know that your body will come back – it just might not be the same, even if it changes a lot, know that you did the most incredible thing a body is capable of doing.
What a incredible woman, and it gives us so much hope – doesn’t it? If you have a story you would like to share, just get in touch > firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the Geriatric Mum facebook group here > JOIN GROUP
Lucy Baker is the founder of Geriatric Mum and she is a confidence coach helping women to feel confident. If you want to discuss anything confidence related, check out her website: www.shecoachesconfidence.com
As a mother of three, aged 10, 8 and 2, I am ecstatic that two of my kids are returning to full-time school on 8th March 2021. They head back to Y6 and Y3 and my god they need it. They need routine, peers and other adults way more than they need to be at home with my husband and I every minute of every day! Children learn best from other people – other adults and their friends – and I believe that limited interaction of this kind is highly detrimental to children’s development. Remember how our children used to go to other people’s houses for tea, a ‘play-date’, to stay the night or for a party? – this kind of stuff is really important because children need to see what other people’s lives look like, that’s how they form opinions and learn about life, if they don’t have any other ‘in real life’ experiences, how can they form their personality and personal perspective?
I feel fortunate that my son, 2, goes to nursery twice a week. He comes home grubby, tired and full of toddler-chat about his day. He interacts with adults and other snotty-nosed kids all day long, works things out with others, sits around a table and eats with his nursery buddies (unlike home where he chucks it all over the place) and he is continuing to learn. This, to me, is essential. Nursery comes at a cost though, and it hasn’t been possible for all. We started nursery because we are both working from home and trying to work with the house full of children saying “Muuuum” 400 times a day is 100% impossible.
In all seriousness, I can see my son developing all the time and it is utterly magical. I haven’t seen that same growth in my girls and I feel a bit sad about that.
Over the course of the next few months, my hope for the girls is that they feel like they are part of their school again, that they belong somewhere hopeful and inspiring. I want them to feel motivated, valued and that they have purpose. I have to say for the last few months, home learning has been a tremendous battle here at Baker HQ, despite the loan of two laptops from their school. With tech at their fingertips, it has been an almighty struggle, here’s why:
Tech issues – on a daily basis the work disappeared, the tickboxes didn’t tick, the videos wouldn’t play.
Motivation is low – without a figure of authority (a teacher!) talking and engaging with my children in the classroom, they haven’t felt motivated.
We are working parents – both my husband and I have dashing off to take a call or tapping away at our keyboards, and neither has been helpful to them or helpful to us.
It’s too easy to say “this is boring!” – and although I loath that sentence in ‘normal times’ they were just be right.
They want to have a laugh – they get silly, we get annoyed, which is highly unfair – but we were trying to work and parent at the same time!
We are all sick of the sight of each other – nuff said
The table they’ve been trying to work from is right near the kitchen – “nuff said
This is not a moan about their school or about the work set. The school have been supportive and the work is thorough, but it just hasn’t worked here. Knowing that it hasn’t worked has made me swing from from feeling crap to accepting we have tried our best, to feeling crap again.
I reached out to Sarah, a primary school teacher from London, here’s what said when I asked her how she feels as a teacher about the school return.
My name’s Sarah and I’m a teacher.
That start makes me sound like I’m in therapy, doesn’t it? To be honest, after the past year, most teachers do need therapy (or a job as a children’s TV presenter after all the videos and live sessions we’ve done!). It has certainly been the toughest year of my 17 years in the profession.
Whilst I could sit here and list all the reasons it’s been tough, I thought I would try and look for the positives…So many good things have come out of this experience. For one, teachers have finally been seen for the hardworking, dedicated people they are. The relationship between parents and teachers has strengthened no end and that well-known phrase of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has never been so true. Teaching and learning don’t just happen in school hours and it’s certainly not all about the academic subjects. There is so much more to education than Maths and English and I have certainly learnt to teach more creatively and work to build on children’s self-esteem and emotional intelligence in this time of ‘home learning’. Not to mention my technology skills which have improved greatly!
I cannot wait to see my class on Monday. It’s just a shame that they’ll not be able to see my reassuring smile when they line up first thing. But we won’t be wearing the masks forever and if the kids have taught me one thing this past year, it’s that they are a truly resilient bunch and nothing phases them. I am sure for every parent tentatively preparing to jump for joy when they drop their kid off at the school gates on Monday, there will be another parent who is incredibly anxious about letting their child out into the big, bad world. We know you are anxious, but we will take such good care of your children, so please don’t worry.
And no, I haven’t had the vaccine yet…like most teachers, I’m still waiting patiently.
Sarah Tebbs (Teacher and fellow geriatric mum)
Sarah talking about resilience makes me think how resilient she’s been too. In fact all teachers and caregivers have been, and dare I say it, us parents, too!
Monday 8th March is just 2 days away. I’ve dragged the uniform out from its dark hiding place, dusted off the school shoes which sadly don’t fit and bought some new ones, ordered more name labels and plastic water bottles than we will ever need and I think we are nearly ready. Oh but wait. Practically, we might be ready, but what about mentally?
As a parent, I am fine about them going back. I am not worried about Covid-19 and I know the school have put decent measures in place to do the best they can. What I am worried about is one of my daughters who refuses to even talk about the return to school with 2 days to go. Every day, I been gently reminding her that school is on Monday and that we are getting ready for the return blah blah blah, but she just screams and runs off. She does not want to go! She’s a home-bird, a happy child pottering about and finding things to do, she is independent and she is stubborn. It makes me wonder how many other children feel like this? As her mother, I know going back to school is just what she needs, but try telling her that. She is popular and does well in the classroom but if I am completely honest, I think she’s forgotten so much about what school is like and has chosen to remove herself from the fact it is a thing. And why wouldn’t you do that given the choice? She is only 8.
My other daughter is in Y6, she is gregarious and she loves people. I know she is going to be fine and actually she is really happy about going back, apart from saying all along she has got to wear the “horrible school uniform”. For her, lockdown has been hard – she has ADHD and kids with ADHD do not do well in confinement. Her natural need to be busy and stimulated was taken away from her overnight and whilst we’ve been trying to occupy her time at home, it is just not the same. It is not the same as leaving the house on your own, calling for your friend, giggling and being silly on your way up to school, feeling independent, taking your phone with you in your school bag, being with 30 other people every school day, having the routine of break and lunchtime, running around the field in P.E, having your familiar packed lunch at the same time every day. It is not the same as leaving school, going to the park with your mates after school and coming home starving hungry. It is not the same.
As I finish writing this on a chilly Saturday 6th March in Kent, my eldest just came to me and said. “Mum, can I try my school uniform on?”. She came back in to me and proudly paraded around the room in her neat trousers and buttoned up cardigan. She was smiling. I was smiling too. I could feel that resilience that Sarah spoke of oozing out of her and my heart flooded with pride. Now I just need to get my other daughter to feel the same way.
Good Luck everyone. Here’s to the resilient kids of today. They rock!
How are you / your kids feeling about the return to school?
Lucy Baker is founder of geriatricmum.co.uk and the Facebook group We are Geriatric Mums. Lucy is a mother of 3 and had her last baby at 43.
Despite lots of heartache and some bad news along the way, Katy is a proud mother to five wonderful children, the last were born when she was 42. Katy has been a young mother and a ‘geriatric’ mum too, and here she shares about the ups and downs she has been through in life which have made her the strong confident woman she is today. Katy’s story is honest and wonderful and I am proud she is a long-standing member of my Geriatric Mum community. Here is her story.
Name Katy Pugh
Tell us about yourself and your kids…
I was 19 when I fell pregnant with my first. I thought I was in love, I wasn’t. We had Imogen 9-days after my 20th birthday, in 1996. By the following March I was back at my Mum and Dads. Soon after, I got a job (my first) in a pub and met my second child’s father. Again, I thought I was in love. It turns out that when I was 6-months pregnant, I discovered he was actually living with his fiancé and their 7-month old son!
Harvey was born in December 1998 and looked exactly like his Dad. I was a 22-year old single-mother of two children, with different fathers (although they did have the same name, just to confuse matters). When I fell pregnant with both these guys, no-one was upset, no-one was derogatory – everyone was excited – my Mum especially. Dad was a bit iffy but that’s just most Dads I think. Mum told him off because they were 17 and 18 when they got married and had my older brother. I think in the 18-years that followed, I only had one boyfriend that I thought I could have more children with, we actually broke up because I was ready, and he wasn’t. It broke my heart for many years. By the time I reached my 30s, I had resigned myself to having no more children and I was happy with that. I wasn’t able to return to work after having Harvey until he started school (due to benefits and childcare costs) but once I did get back into work I wanted to better myself to better the future for my children.
I started as a receptionist in a tanning salon and progressed to admin within the NHS, afterwhich I had an admin role for the Essex branch of a hospitality apprenticeship training company and I blooming loved my job! When I started there, Immy was 15 and Harvey 13. I had some freedom back, which was bliss. I have vague memories of hot coffee and trips to the gym.
Fast forward to 2015. I had downsized my housing association house because Immy had moved out. Harvey was getting ready to sit his GCSE’s, and I was afloat. I felt content with my life. I had no idea that a chance comment on a selling page would change my life forever…
In my early 30’s (13-years ago) I dated a guy named Richie. It was never going to be long term – he liked his recreational activities too much for my liking. During our 6-months together I met his family and his soon to be Brother-in-Law. I got on OK with them, but they weren’t my cup of tea really. I thought the Brother-in-Law was a bit of an idiot if I’m completely honest.
So, the selling page story: I ask about the availability of an item online and the comment below mine, was from the Brother-in-Law that I just mentioned; “Hey Katy! Remember me?” I thought to myself, oh god really!? Anyway, we became friends on Facebook, chatted a lot and went on a ‘non-date’ about a week or so later, to ‘catch up’. I found out that he was divorced a year after he’d got married. We kissed that first ‘non-date’, and it was nice. I didn’t expect anything else to happen, but we saw each other every evening that week.
It was time to admit we had feelings for each other. There was me thinking I was quite happy the way I was! After 5 weeks, Simon moved in with Harvey and I. We had already discussed kids and because he didn’t have any, he desperately wanted them. I had a good think about things and chatted with a co-worker about it and decided I wasn’t too old to have more. By summer, my coil was gone, and we were actively trying to conceive.
It took until Easter 2016 for a positive pregnancy test result. Simon was over the moon and I felt happy that he was happy. He told everyone although I had wanted to keep it quiet. Over the following weeks, I wasn’t very well. I had the most awful flu-type illness and I couldn’t shift it. I was taking cold and flu remedies to help with feeling so awful. At our 12-week scan we found that our ‘baby’ hadn’t developed past 5 weeks. I hadn’t experienced this before. I’d had a termination at 24-years old, but this feeling was completely different. Even to this day, I still think I killed that baby. I have always thought that if I hadn’t taken the flu medication, I would’ve had a healthy baby to love and nurture.
Simon was so upset, but he was my absolute rock through it all. I had a surgical procedure to remove the failed pregnancy. I still think about that baby and what could’ve been, and it continues to makes me sad.
A year later, after that awful experience, I was pregnant again. As the 12-week scan loomed, we dreaded hearing the same sad news, but this time we were greeted with a happy, healthy, growing baby. This was the first time I had heard the term ‘Geriatric’ used. What?! I’m not old! I was 40.
How does it feel to be an older / geriatric mum?
Geriatric Mum! Not me – I am young at heart, reasonably fit and healthy. I had absolutely no issues with my ‘older’ pregnancies and my family and friends didn’t bat an eyelid at my age. When I used to walk around the supermarket, I was stopped all the time by people wanting to talk about my huge belly, but no-one asked me about my age. It’s rare to brag about age to strangers, but I was bragging all of the time. I said things like “I was 20 with my first and I’ll be 41 with my third” and “It is almost 19-years between this and the last pregnancy “. I loved being pregnant and appreciated it much more because I was older. I had really swollen feet and ankles and my god could I eat, but I loved it.
Then something awful happened. My daughter, Imogen, realised she was 18-weeks pregnant and in the process of a miscarriage. Baby Samuel Ronnie was born the day after my 41st birthday – she had been in labour for 3 days and sadly he was too young to survive. We had a funeral for him a few weeks later. I felt totally devastated watching my baby, my daughter, go through that, whilst I was pregnant.
Elliott Luca David Pugh arrived safe and sound 3-days before his due date. I was 41-years old. Simon proposed to me that Christmas Day, back in 2017. I said yes! We got married in July 2018, knowing that I was pregnant again! Just 2-weeks before the wedding I had to get a different wedding dress because the one I’d had fitted didn’t do up!
On the day of the scan (just 3-days after our wedding) I was nervous. I was worried that I wouldn’t cope if this pregnancy wasn’t viable – especially after mine and Imogen’s miscarriages. The scan was good and everything was healthy and developing properly. TWICE OVER in fact! My heart stopped with shock when I realised that it was twins – my first words were – “are you f***ing joking?” I was 11+3 weeks and a ‘geriatric’ mum-to-be.
I was under consultant care due to carrying twins who were sharing a placenta. This meant we were at risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). We were referred to the specialist team for extra care and had scans every 2-weeks until birth.Despite having huge ankles and wearing crocs and socks (which Simon hated!) the pregnancy was good. We found out at our 16-week scan in London that we had identical girls – it was lovely news.
How did you find pregnancy?
I loved being pregnant again. I’d forgotten what it was like when I was younger because it was so long ago and as a younger mother-to-be, I’d just assumed my pregnancies would be ok, I didn’t think about miscarriage, disabilities or even the future – I didn’t have a care in the world or a plan.
Having babies older is very different. I felt confident enough to ask the midwives anything at any time, my consultants were easy to speak to and informative. The hardest part was the end of my twin pregnancy – I was so heavy and in constant pain. My feet were huge but my blood pressure was completely normal. I begged to be induced slightly earlier than 38-weeks and my medical team agreed to 37-weeks. The day after Boxing Day in 2018, my body had other plans. I got up as normal at 6.30am and Simon was still asleep. I pottered around the house for about an hour. I went to the loo, made another coffee, sat down on the sofa and POP! – my waters broke at 34+3 weeks. Simon didn’t believe me at first, but he soon did when he saw the river of water from the lounge to the downstairs toilet!
I rang the hospital to let them know, the midwife laughed when I said I won’t be rushing in because I wanted a shower plus it was rush hour. We got to the pre-labour ward and I had a quick examination and it was at that point things really started to progress. Due to me having twins, we were moved onto delivery by 10.30am where I saw 2 of everything! I felt a bit overwhelmed and suddenly it hit me that we were having two babies!
I had an epidural and delivered Twin-1 naturally at 4.45 pm on December 14th 2018. Mia Jennifer was 4lb 1oz and perfect. Twin-2 decided to have a party and flipped herself upside down and back to front inside me. She’d never had that kind of space before had she! My consultant came in and after an internal exam we discovered that she was breech. My options were c-section or he could pull her out manually. I opted for manual, because the thought of a c-section scared the living daylights out of me. After a top-up of epidural, Orla Vanessa was born at 4.54pm, 9-minutes after her sister. Orla needed a little help to breathe and weighed in at 3lb 15oz. I got to see them both from afar and they were whisked off to neo-natal for support. Whilst I was in theatre having my placenta taken out, Simon was able to go and spend time with the girls. He took lots of photos for me to look at and I was just so happy – I cried and cried. I was lucky enough to be given a private room on the post-natal ward and I could see the neo-natal ward from my room. That first night, once I had got settled after visiting the girls a couple of times, I had the best shower ever and slept for 8 hours straight – the breakfast lady woke me up for a cuppa and cereal at 8am.
Were you offered any memorable or unhelpful words of wisdom when you spoke to others (friends, family, midwife, doc) about your pregnancy?
I had really good people around me throughout my pregnancies. I don’t remember any negativity at all. I’m pretty thick skinned though, so I would’ve just brushed it off anyway. Who is to say what age is right or wrong to have babies – if you want to, and you can, then do.
Describe how it feels to be an older (geriatric) mum?
In a word EXHAUSTING!!!! I’m always tired – so tired my tired is tired. I’m lucky if I manage to shower regularly, my diet is crap, I rarely get to wear make-up or dress up (pre-covid only occasionally), I lose my rag daily.
Elliott is hard work, he is into everything. He never walks – he runs around full pelt from waking up to going to sleep. I’m a referee for the most part. Mia is a gentle, sweet princess with an ear shattering scream and a Daddy’s girl. Orla is my little fire-cracker – sweet and gentle too, but a bossy boots and a Mummy’s girl. I am happy to say all 3 are thriving.
Lockdown has been a huge test for me. Elliott started pre-school January 2020 but only managed 7-weeks before Lockdown #1. I was reluctant for him to go back in July, but I got to the point my own mental health was suffering so much that we needed the break from each other. Simon and I managed to get Covid right before Christmas and were quarantined up until Christmas Day. I’m sure that if I was younger and didn’t have the same support or even ‘grown up knowledge’ that I have today, I wouldn’t have managed the last year in the same way.
Is your child in school yet? If yes, how do the other mums react with you being older?
I think I’m the oldest Mum at the pre-school gates (I’m nearly 45) but I know I don’t look it. I’ve been surprised a few times that someone was younger than me, when I thought they were older. One thing I do know, is that I haven’t got the tolerance for some of the younger mums. I have listened into conversations and thought to myself, is that how older mums saw me all those years ago at the school gates? I’m the first to admit I was probably a bit chavvy and gobby back then – I thought I knew it all.
We moved into the village we live in now in 2019. I don’t know many people here, but I meet new people all the time. I am a bit more confident starting a conversation these days and I don’t care what people think about me. Love me or hate me, I am me and that’s that.
The one thing I worry about in life is if I’ll stay alive long enough to see all five of my children grow up. Imogen and Harvey are 24 and 22, they are fantastic humans and I couldn’t be prouder of them. When the twins leave school at 18, Simon and I will be 60 and I’m sure at some point we will be mistaken for their grandparents!
Oh Katy – you are ace!
And thank-you so much for reading the blog,
If you are an older Mum and would like to join the fab Facebook group click here; JOIN GROUP and make sure you are follwing on instagram, too! @geriatric_mum
Lucy Baker is the founder of Geriatric Mum and she is a confidence coach helping women to feel confident. If you want to discuss anything confidence related, check out her website: www.shecoachesconfidence.com
I know of Sarah through my group We are Geriatric Mums and I can honestly say she is one of a few people in my lifetime who has had a profound effect on my thinking. Sarah is a voice for us ‘older mums’ as well as a positive mover and shaker in the Down syndrome community. The way she adapted and changed her life a few years ago is something that brings a tear to my eye. Read Sarah’s story below and let us know what you think in the comments. Introducing, Sarah Pree:
Name Sarah Pree
What age were you when you had your children, and how old are they now?
I had my first child, Charlie, when I was 23. My second child, Freya, was born when I was 25, and Marnie arrived when I was 43-years old.
How did people react when you told them you were pregnant at an ‘older age’?
Some people were surprised because I’d already had my son and daughter (who were in their early 20s) but on the whole, people were happy for us, mainly because my new partner Colin didn’t have any children of his own.
How did you find your ‘geriatric’ pregnancy?
My pregnancies in my 40s were quite different, because at this age it was the first time I experienced a miscarriage. I was 11-weeks pregnant and just approaching the “safety zone” of 12-weeks. It was an extremely traumatic time because it took nearly a year to conceive and so the sense of loss hit us hard. Thankfully, I became pregnant again two months later and was elated at this news, but fearful of miscarrying again, which is why we had a reassurance scan when I was 9-weeks pregnant. Both Colin and I felt a huge sense of relief to see a tiny little “gummi bear” with a strong beating heart and little buds for arms and legs. We left the scan feeling happy yet slightly apprehensive, but very much looking forward to our 12-week scan.
The next three weeks flew by, and before we knew it it was time to see our baby again. But nothing could have prepared us for the news we were about to be told.
Our “gummi bear” was now a fully formed tiny baby, with long arms and legs, and a strong heartbeat. But things were about to change. Our initial relief at seeing the image soon turned to complete and utter shock as I witnessed the puzzled look on the sonographer’s face which really unnerved me. In addition to the facial expression, the silence in the room could have been cut with a knife. The ultrasound lady informed us that she would be leaving the room and would return in a few minutes, because she needed a second opinion on the nuchal translucency reading which “seemed a bit high”.
We both glared at each other, not knowing what to say, but at that moment my instinct was hinting to me what was really happening.
The second sonographer was now scanning back and forth back and forth and she looked as equally as anxious as the first. I remember lying there feeling helpless, scared and I was trying so hard to stay together and composed. Soon afterwards, we were then told that the high reading may indicate a chromosomal abnormality, like Down syndrome, and that they would need to take some bloods from me to conduct further tests. We were ushered into a very glum room, you know the kind of room from an episode of Casualty, with tissues on the table and nothing on the walls. We waited there until I was called for the blood test.
We left the hospital feeling crushed. The pain in some stomach was physical, much like the feeling of being winded. I will never forget it. The next few days were agonising whilst we waited for the results and it felt very surreal.
Most people leave the hospital with scan photos and proudly share with their friends and family this important milestone of the 12-week scan, but instead, we wanted to switch our phones off and be alone. Personally, I couldn’t deal with having to share the news that there might be a “problem“.
The day that we received the phone call with the results is something we will NEVER forget. I had a 1 in 2 chance of a baby with Down syndrome, a 1 in 7 chance of Edwards’ syndrome and a 1 in 13 for Patau’s syndrome and with this news I felt like my world had ended.
Why? Why us? I’d just lost a baby, and now this! It didn’t feel fair. I was quickly thrown into the next stage, which was, to make a decision. I already knew that termination was not an option for me, but I so desperately needed some clarity.
For me, Down syndrome was “doable”, but the other two conditions (Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome) are not quite as straight forward. Diagnostic testing is the only way to get an accurate result and NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing) is not as accurate as it is claimed to be and I’ve since learned that from speaking to many other mothers who have a child with Ds. I decided to have CVS testing (Chorionic villus sampling) and soon after we received the results to confirm that we were having a little girl, and yes, she had Down syndrome.
I felt a sense of relief upon getting the results. Relief that I could continue with my pregnancy and prepare for life through a very different lens. I set about educating myself so that I fully understood everything I needed to know and so I could be the best Mum for my extra special girl whom I had been blessed with – because that’s how I started to see this little girl inside of me – as a blessing. I felt grateful and thankful that I had been chosen to be her Mummy, and the one to love and care for her. Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I received superb care and was offered lots more scans, which I took. 40-50% of babies with Ds have heart issues, but we were fortunate in that it wasn’t the case with our little girl. Another reason for the increased level of scanning, is that the placenta stops working so well in a pregnancy where the baby has Ds, but my unborn child and I remained very healthy and there was no cause for concern. Oh, and my consultants were often surprised when they looked at my notes and saw that I was born in 1974 – they thought I was about 10 years younger than I was! Get in!
Our beautiful little Marnie was born at 39+4 weeks. Her birth was assisted by loads of gas and air (entonox) and it was without complication.
Were you offered any memorable or unhelpful words of wisdom when you spoke to others (friends, family, midwife, doc) about your pregnancy?
A few people said “sorry” when I told them our baby had Down syndrome. I know these comments are not meant to be harmful, but really there is nothing to be sorry about, and I found it quite insulting. Mothers-to-be just want to be congratulated no matter what their story is, and I wish people would recognise that.
Describe how it feels to be an older (geriatric) mum?
Being an older Mum is fantastic! I had my first two children in my 20s and can definitely say that I much prefer motherhood as a “geriatric.” I am lucky to have good health and I certainly don’t feel like I’m fast approaching my 50s! I just go with the flow these days and I live life in the present, feeling grateful to have had the opportunity to be a mother later in life. I’m calm, I know myself really well and I don’t care about other’s opinions too much. I believe that when you are in your 40s, you feel much more comfortable with who you are, and your ability, and youth doesn’t give you that. Being ‘older’ definitely offers more balance to life.
Some wonderful words of wisdom from Sarah:
If any Mums (young or older) ever find themselves in a position where they were told their baby may have Down syndrome, my first piece of advice would be not to panic. We are nearly three years into our beautiful journey, and if I could go back in time, I would tell myself that piece of advice with absolute certainty. There really was no need to cry all those tears and feel swamped with the fears that I felt. The fear that I felt, was around the unknown, and because Down syndrome is so often portrayed as something negative, and because of that the natural reaction is to feel scared.
Sadly, the majority of the time, when expectant parents are given news of a diagnosis, it isn’t done in a particularly positive way. My advice would be to make sure you are given up-to-date, balanced information and ensure that you are signposted to the right support groups and the correct care pathway. And ask lots of questions.
The help and advice is out there. It sometimes just takes a while to find the right information that gives parents an overall balanced view.
I want to remind everyone reading that we all do the best we can, no matter what age we are. My message to mothers is to have faith in yourself – bringing new life into the world is truly amazing. Love who you are, love that your body has produced, carried and nurtured another human life. Never beat yourself up and think you’re not good enough. You are a hero to your child (or children) and the roots to help them flourish and grow. We all have gone through extraordinary times (Covid-19) and you have shown your resilience – so be proud of that. Women are wonderful and we should empower one another.
Much love and light to you all, and thank you for reading,
If you would like to get in touch with Sarah, email me and I can pass it on to her.
Lucy Baker is the founder of Geriatric Mum and she is a confidence coach helping women to be confident at work. If you want to discuss anything confidence related, you can find her email on the SCC website www.shecoachesconfidence.com
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released new figures on the average age of mothers at time they gave birth in 2019, and it has increased to 30.7 years, and the average age for a father is 33.6 years.
This shows, that women having babies is at the highest age ever, and women have consistently been getting older over the years.
I was 34 years old when I had my first baby, 37 years old when I had baby number two, and I gave birth at 43-years-old with my last baby. I now have a 10-year old, an 8 year old and a nearly 2-year old, and I am 44-year old. I was way above the national average when I gave birth to Rocky in 2019, in fact 13-years above, and interestingly at 34-years old (my first baby) I was 4 years over the national average.
I do feel that the age that a woman has a baby now, is so varied, and that is so wonderful, because actually, what is age is right, what age is wrong? What age is too young, what age is too old? Everyone has a story as to why they had a baby at a certain age, and that is what fascinates me. I don’t judge others for when they have a baby, and it isn’t helpful when people do.
Today I was featured on the Daily Mail online talking about my experiences of being an older mum and I also talk about my group on Facebook, We are Geriatric Mums which now has nearly 2000 members – women 35+ who are pregnant or have had a baby.
And, much to my delight, I was featured on Sky News and interviewed LIVE by Jayne Secker about the same figures released by the ONS. We talked about opinions around older mums, why we think women have having babies later in life and what it is like being an older mum at school and at playgroups.
I had a bit of a negative start to my pregnancy mainly because of how people reacted. I wrote about how I felt here; 42 and pregnant but once I settled into the fact that some people can’t help but say negative things, and I glossed over the many negative ‘risk’ articles I read online, I felt good. I had a lovely pregnancy and I enjoyed being pregnant at 42. I felt calm, connected and fearless about what was ahead and my husband was a brilliant support. I realised (at 5-months pregnant) that I wanted to help other women who might be feeling scared about the risks they read online or annoyed and hurt by comments from others and so I started this blog and the Facebook group (We are Geriatric Mums) to connect others, and to create a supportive community. And boy, it is thriving.
It turns out that the best support you can get as an older mum, is from other older mums!
What a day it’s been for the ‘mums who happen to be older’ community – online and on the live news – I am so pleased that I was able to share what it is really like to be an older mum and speak for the 1000s of older mums in my community. Magic.