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.
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
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.
I first met Amy through my group, We are Geriatric Mums and realised that she lived just 10-minutes from my home in Kent. Connecting with other like-minded mums is crucial and after meeting Amy ‘online’ we met at a couple of ‘Geriatric Mum’ events (with lots of other fab women) and we have had a few boozy nights out, too. Amy has three children and had her last baby, after a troublesome pregnancy, at 33-weeks. This is Amy’s story:
Name Amy Iddenden
What age were you when you had your children, and how old are they now?
I had Mia, my first baby at 22, she is now 19. At 37 I had my second girl, Matilda who is 3. I was nearly 41 when I had Sidney, who is now 1.
How did people react when you told them you were pregnant at an older age?
Most people were okay, actually. Some said “you’re a bit old” or the typical “how old will you be when they go to school?” but generally the view was a positive one. Initially, my daughter (then 17) told me she thought I was too old to have a baby, but after some thought, she recognised that if we were happy, that was a good thing. She was heading off to University soon after we shared our news anyway, and she came to terms with it not really having a big change on her life, because she would be away.
How was your ‘geriatric’ pregnancy?
It was hard, due to major complications – I was in and out of hospital and it resulted in complications at birth and after, mainly due to negligence. My consultant, however, was amazing and didn’t make me feel that the issues were because of my age. She expressed feeling sorry that she had to see me in her clinic more as a result of my age. In fact, my midwife told me that I wasn’t old and it wasn’t unusual in her practice to see mums 40+ these days. So, in general, I had a really good experience in terms of my age with all medical staff that I met whilst I was pregnant.
Were you offered any memorable (or unhelpful) words of wisdom when you spoke to others (friends, family, midwife, doc) about your pregnancy?
I did hear on a few occasions “you’ll be the oldest mum in the playground” 🙄, “you’ll be really tired because of your age” and “you’re so tired because you’re old”.
Describe how it feels to be an older (geriatric) mum?
Amazing! Having done it at, what I consider, a young age and at at much older age (40+) I feel much more confident and I would go as far as to say I prefer being an older mum (that sounds awful, but I don’t mean it like that). I think the preference comes from being more secure in every aspect of my life – financially and emotionally and that has come with age. These days, I enjoy my children so so much and appreciate every single second with them. Yes! I am tired, but so are my friends who are 10 years younger than me with young children, so in no way do I relate this to be ‘geriatric’ it is just a fact of motherhood. I have to say, I feel much more laid back these days and I think that helps me as a mum, too.
Sidney had a difficult start in life and I had a bad time pre, during and post birth. I was really poorly after having him and ended up having a hysterectomy to correct some of the issues I was having post-birth. Sidney was quite poorly afterwards too, he was in and out of hospital with bronchiolitis and it was a really stressful and unsettling time. Thankfully, we both are doing really well now, and despite having a rough few months running up to this birth and afterwards, my lovely baby boy makes all of the hard times we experienced, worth it.
Amy, do you have any top tips for readers?
My top tips are – firstly, don’t listen to negativity about your age – being an older mum is the BEST and I have done both young and old. Secondly, enjoy every minute of it, even the bad bits, because what happens is that the good outweighs the bad and the good will shine through, and thirdly, sleep when you can, and have lots of coffee and gin!
I love Amy’s attitude towards being an older mum, it matches mine. Despite having a tricky pregnancy and a worrying birth she now has a beautiful, healthy baby boy. We are Gerry Mums and proud!
Thank you, Amy.
Lucy aka GERIATRIC MUM.
Have you joined my free facebook group yet? It’s a great place for us GMs (Mums who are 35+) to share stories and experiences; CLICK HERE
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 her SCC website; www.shecoachesconfidence.com
Not a glamorous thing to admit, but I have always struggled with hard skin on my feet and it looks and feels horrid – think crusty heels and socks that crackle and catch as they go on and you have got the idea. I am told it is from being a flip flop lover, which I quite understand, the flipping of the sole has a hardening effect on the skin.
Flip flops aside, until recently I had tried everything under the sun to combat my unsightly heels, including:
Exfoliating Foot Socks – wow! These things are, at first glance amazing, but actually quite brutal. The first time I used this type of bootie after 8 days the skin on my feet shed like an old snake and I felt like this was a total blessing, but I do now feel they add to the problem of hard skin, because for me, it came back twice as badly. Helen, my Reflexologist (I say that like I use her a lot, she’s actually only done my feet once and it was wonderful) told me that we do need a layer of hard skin on our feet for protection and for balance.
Pumice Stone – there was always a pumice stone in the bathroom when I was a kid and I actually never liked the look of them – I always thought they looked grey and somehow a bit unhygienic. I bought one a few months ago and I tired it on damp feet whilst standing in the bath. I kept dropping it and it felt way to small, and actually a bit crumbly, and it didn’t really seems to smooth my feet very much. It is now in the bin.
Supermarket plastic foot file – I bought a plastic-handled foot file that was about £3 from a supermarket. Back in the summer, I was happily filing my feet in the garden (dust flying everywhere) whilst watching my son play, and the bloody thing snapped. I might’ve been a bit gung-ho with my filing technique or it was a cheap n nasty bit of kit. “Buy cheap buy twice” my husband always says, and in this instance he was right.
Foot file that looks like a cheese grater – In the foot care aisle of a big pharmacy store, I saw a handled foot file that looked like a mini cheese grater and for some reason I bought it! I got to work on my hard heels with it and actually it made them sore! So that too, went in the bin.
Helen, who I mentioned earlier, is a Reflexologist and Foot Health Practitioner, she says;
Developing hard skin (callus) on the soles and sides of our feet is a natural response to friction, pressure and drying out. It mainly occurs around the heel, big toe, little toe, and ball of the foot as these are the areas that take the most weight and / or, are most often subject to the results of poor fitting shoes.
Callus is protective: Our skin is a vital organ for protecting our delicate insides from the outside world, and it literally holds us together. When it is subject to continuous rubbing, trauma or loss of moisture, the deeper layers of skin get busy producing extra skin cells to push up to the surface as a barrier to whatever is going on. This is why many people with hard skin find it gets worse during summer – flip flops offer no support; they continually bounce on and off the heel while the foot loses all its moisture which usually helps maintain its elasticity. Poor feet! Because hard skin forms as protection, an important tip when filing down hard skin is to do it gently and in smooth long strokes in one direction, do not take it all off in one go, and moisturise well afterwards. I know this might sound counter-intuitive, however, if you go at it with a sawing motion or with the force of a cheese grater, the skin knows that it is under attack, and then it will try to protect itself.
Such wise words Helen, thank you.
So what does work?
For me, the only things that have made my feet baby-soft are a stainless steel handled foot file and Flexitol Hard Skin & Callus Balm (see photo below)
The foot file is bloody ace! It has a rough side and a fine side (much like its supermarket friends) to help remove stubborn dead skin and then smooth it, but the big difference is that it comes with new ‘grits’, 5 of each. When the old one is a bit worn out, it can be taken off and replaced – hurrah. Also, unlike the cheaper versions, it is sturdy and can withstand even the most vigorous of filing sessions – great for when I first got it, because my feet were pretty awful.
After filing my trotters, I apply a small amount of the Flexitol Balm to the heel area only, and massage it in well. The website says that the product is designed to remove hard skin without the filing, but I ignored that and went for both, and will continue to do so.
I can honestly say that after years of hating my hard heels and actually sometimes picking the hard skin off , and making the area bleed (I know! I know!) I have finally found what works ; two things used three times a week to give me feet that I am proud of. Having nice feet makes me feel good, even if winter is in the way. Smooth heels stops crackly socks and that alone is worth the £12.50 I spent to get them.
Lucy Baker is a mother of 3 and she had her last child at 43-years-old. She hosts an online support community for ‘mums who happen to be older’ on facebook called We are Geriatric Mums which is currently at 1.9K members. Lucy is a confidence coach and her website is www.shecoachesconfidence.com
This feature is not sponsored. Flexitol has been recommended because it is good.
Today I’ve been singing the line “I just don’t know what to do with myself…” from the song by The White Stripes – it has been going round and round in my head, I love the song and the words feel right today.
It is a normal Monday in July, actually, start again – it is normal Monday in July, yet instead of embracing the first week of the summer holidays with a sense of freedom and relief that the school run is done, everyone in the house is fed up with each other, even the cat is feeling fed up. It isn’t a ratty, over-tired sort of fed up that we all go through in life, it is more I’m sick of the sight of you fed up – and it feels like it is at the highest level today. As I write this, I am imagining that strongman game at the arcades, and the bell ringing out as the puck hits the top during one of our family ding-dongs, to indicate that we are at top level fed up.
The kids keep arguing, they always have a bit, but right now it is off.the.scale, Rox is being a typical 18-month old, you know, chucking food, putting fingers in sockets, jumping off sofas and hitting us with everything – in fact, he hit me with a toy dustpan today and I burst into tears. it hurt, and as I said, I’m feeling a bit White Stripes lyrics today and a bit fragile. But back to Rocky, he is just being a fab funny little boy, but because none of us have had a proper break, there is always a kid around, if not three, it makes the food throwing and dustpan hitting feel way more annoying than it should. My husband and I swing from kissing in the kitchen in front of the kids to totally ignoring each other and handing over the toddler to make a work call without making any eye contact. Honestly, one minute we are dancing around and flirting and the next we can’t bear the sight of each other and are literally tearing our hair out. Even the cat runs a mile as soon as Rocky Bamm-Bamm walks up to her – her routine is out and she is fed up too. If I think about it too much, I find it all quite sad, but we are okay, and he said to me today when we broke away from a grump to talk about sweetcorn – “Lu, 5 months everyday together is pretty tough – I love you”.
So on this Monday, despite life opening up a bit more, none of it is normal really is it, how can it be?
The girls haven’t stepped foot in their school for four and a half months, The Bakers have spent nearly every hour with each other since 20th March 2020, and it is starting to feel like we are in some pantomime. Ok, that is a bit OTT (Oh no it isn’t!), but it just doesn’t balanced and regular. I used to hate regular, but perhaps part of me actually needs that. I know we can see friends, go for dinner if we want and shop, but it is the no school and the boredom that the children have experienced that concerns me. I am a confidence coach and in normal life, I know exactly how to keep myself feeling good, but the last few months have been a test like no other – much like trying to complete an osbstacle course with no finish line… and now we are all running out of fuel.
The kids are playing up at meal times, we are fighting with them daily over screens (with no clear idea what it actually best), we are experiencing a level of mum and dad guilt like never before and the older kids are developing a bit of an attitude that goes against everything we want for our kids. But it is not a normal time. One of my girls has ADHD, so life has been doubly tough in many ways, and yet so many don’t understand what we go through as a family, and what we have been through to date – but that is another blog post entirely, and I will write about it. All I want to say right now, is those who have supported us through her diagnosis and more, have a place in my heart forever.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been times where we’ve done what we would’ve done during a tough race – pick the other person up and climb the hill together. That said, there have also been times where we’ve all needed space to go alone – but haven’t had the chance to, in other words there has been nowhere to escape to. I can’t just up and leave in the middle of the day, each outing needs to be finely tuned and planned. Just today, we needed to buy a cat flap for little Gracie, so I had Rox and Dan took the two girls to the hardware store – another lap of the obstacle course complete. Go Dan!
I think that the main issue hasn’t been covid-19 or us spending time together, we actually all like each other a lot, it has been the fact that we both have to work with three kids in the house. I mean, if that isn’t crazy, what is? The more I think about this fact, the more cross I get. I run my own business, which luckily I can do from home. My husband works for a company in London, and luckily he can do his job from home, too. I say luckily because we are both working and we can share the kid-load and that makes things a bit better… or does it?
I don’t know if it does or it doesn’t, I flip between that all day long. In some ways it is better, but the intensity of five people in the house (three children under ten) and two parents with a shit load of work on, doesn’t make it better.
What I do know is that both of us don’t have any downtime. I am often up early to do bits of work and I then hit the laptop again at around 9pm – that can’t be good for mental health, can it? But what other option do we have? You know, I look back longingly and reminisce about those dreamy morning school runs, with just one child in a pram and the chance for me to have a natter in the street or to grab a coffee and a pastry on the way back to the house. Ok, they weren’t dreamy at the time, but they feel it now. My husband keeps dreaming about his deathly silent train journeys where the aircon was a touch too cold and the passenger next to him was eating something stinky, but he didn’t care, of course he didn’t, he was freeeee and on his own! (read that as freeeee with no kids!) Oh my days, what bliss.
Pregnant The Screwed have just published a survey of 20,000 working mothers and it is a fascinating read. It perfectly hits on some of the frustrations that I have and am feeling around childcare at the moment. Our toddler is just about to start nursery and we are doing it for two reasons – so he can have interaction with people other than his parents, and so that we can work. Oh by the way, the cost of 2 days a week is just over £400 a month, so I feel we have to spend money so that we can work. This isn’t about shoving him out to nursery, it is about having time to work.
So anyway, back to the point of me writing this. I am writing this today because I have felt all over the place and I know that feeling comes from me trying to work, the fact that no-one feels excited about summer, and the sadness I feel from us bickering and annoying each other. For us, this family of five, this isn’t how we are.
I am not a blamey person (it is a waste of energy in my book), but if I were to blame how I am feeling on anything or anyone, I actually don’t think I could. It is what it is, as they say, but I do wish it was different.
My only advice, and I don’t have much as a parent, is to talk and share, oh… and never judge.
It has been 79 days since school closed. I don’t need to tell you that that is a long time to have three children under the age of ten at home 24/7, without any break from them, or them from us. No friends here for tea after school, no trip to the local park to let the kids play on the climbing frame, no pretty instagram picture trips to the zoo, no trips to see cousins and family – no let up. But hey, it is what it is. As lockdown eases a touch in the UK, we are getting a little taste of real life – I don’t know about you, but I almost feel in my groove as a lockdown mum, almost-ish.
Don’t get me wrong, I crave seeing friends in the pub, going on the train, even soft play!, seeing the school mums on the walk into school for an idle, unforced, un-Zoomed chat. I like those chats best of all. The organic natter, which for me, makes life feel real, and okay. The pre-arranged video chats and quizzes always switch my mind into work mode – because I have been Zooming for years at work.
Zoom aside, I also miss everything impromptu. To some degree, as a family, we are organised – ok I’m fibbing a bit here, I’d say a BIT organised. We are way more impromptu than organised. Wanna meet us at the beach in an hour? Yes! The Bakers are there. I think for us as a family, that has been hard. But we are kinda used to it now, although I am not sure I want us to be used to it.
The big thing for me is that I don’t feel used to the sedentary side of life. In normal times, I loathe it, it doesn’t suit me, or the kids. But, we have had to try and get used to it, or at least I have – just like everyone else has. You see, I find it hard because it goes against everything I believe in as a parent. Sure, there is garden time (mainly the one year old) and jaunts out to the local gap – we live right by the sea – but the girls (7 and 10) have become much much slower, and more argumentative – Oh my, the arguments!
I think every parent in the land (world!) has had to re-adjust. We started off with great intentions to home-school (I’m sorry but that term HAS to go), but then we soon realised that the kids eating their lunch without having a major meltdown, was a good day. Eating lunch without a mega strop is still a good day here – I think that’s our marker. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we have had about 3 good days in the 79, I kid you not. One of us has lost our shit every other day, and often it is multiple children and adults, losing it together. It has been, and will continue to be, hard.
Our children are 10, 7 and 1 and trying to balance and manage their needs 24/7 (and ours needs as parents) is impossible. It is absolutely impossible and no-one wants it to be like this. I don’t know about you, but I switch from yep this is OHHHHKAY to WTF IS GOING ON, around twenty times a day. Again, I think we all do. But, like all parents, we get on with it – because we have to.
I have been named, by a few friends, the 70’s mum. My dream is for the kids to play outside ALL day, exploring and getting messy, whilst I cook a delicious pie. Lie! – whilst I work. My dream is far from reality. The girls are obsessed with Adopt Me (Roblox) and although it is a cute game and time on a screen is handy for two working parents – it drives me mad. Seriously. We all know that computer games are like a drug, you start, and it is likely you will get hooked. It is true. Flyable rideable unicorns are not what they seem! I have to admit, screens have been useful during lockdown, but have you ever tried to get a kid off a screen when it is dinner time, despite 84 warnings? It is hell on earth. But, it is life, as we know it. I don’t like it, but it is life.
We are safe, we are healthy, we are all quite bored and we are on day 79 of lockdown life. And I am a lockdown mum. We have moments that I will cherish forever, but we have had hormonal rages (not just me!), boredom rages (all of us), frustration rages (all of us), toddler tantrums (you can guess that one), I hate school and never want to go back rages (both girls), I miss my friends (both girls and me!) and many more rages. I guess these rages are raw and real, and I do like seeing people for who they are, I always have – the real deal, no airs or graces. Lockdown life is raw and real.
It is day eighty tomorrow. With no change here – ding ding. Life continues with three children wanting food, piles of washing mounting up, not quite managing the tidy home that everyone else seems to have, no school runs, no looking forward to Friday night out in a pub with friends, no school work being achieved, no playgroups for my little man, – BUT we are spending time in our lovely garden, eating nice tasty meals together (most of the time), we are all going through this lockdown craziness as a little family – together, I somehow have time to work on my business, the house is messy and chaotic house and I am a lockdown mum – trying to keep things ticking over, trying to keep people happy, trying to look after everyone and me whilst staying positive and casting my mind ahead to things we all can do, when ‘this’ is over. It is surreal, intense, boring, beautiful, a nuisance, sad, too much, too little, magical and horrible. It is is far from ideal, but we are making it work – just!