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,
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