A chat with Kathleen

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.

Name: Kathleen

Age: 48

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.

geriatric mum after weight loss
Kathleen – before and after her 190lb weight loss

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.

baby boy to a geriatric mum
Kathleen’s beautiful baby boy, Nickolas Jr.

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.

geriatric mum cradling her newborn baby
Proud mother, Kathleen – age 47

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.

geriatric woman, her baby and her partner
Kathleen, partner Nick and son Nickolas Jr.

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 > lucy@shecoachesconfidence.com

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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

One Year On

I am always asked what it is like to be a new mummy again, and in truth, it is hard work. I have 3 children now (9,7 and 1) and life is a big old juggle. My baby – who was born when I was 43 – is now 1, and I am 44. That’s right! I am 44 with a 1 year old.

My little baby is 1

As you may know, when I found out I was pregnant at 42, I struggled to find anywhere to hang out as an ‘older mum’ so I created that place in a facebook group called We are Geriatric Mums, and it is thriving. It is a wholesome, non-judgemental place for mums who happen to be older.

Having a new baby is one thing – ok they are up all night, but they do not move, and having a busy, walking, grabbing toddler is another. One of the things that people said to me when they found out I was pregnant at 42 was “how are you going to cope now that you are older” and do you know what? It’s ok. The bit that I’d forgotten, because I haven’t had a little one for 7 years, was the sheer energy that these toddlers have! WOW. The grab, smash, pull, grab, fling, chuck mentality that these little ones have, or my little one has, is amazing. Actually, I am not a fan of the word amazing per se, I find it is wildly over-used in this day and age – all you need to do is watch The X Factor – but amazing this little boy is.

His energy, his vitality, his thirst for learning is just so wonderful, and before you think this is a mum-style brag, it isn’t. I’m just fascinated with how these little humans, at just 12 months old, are.

Rocky is 1 (with his fave birthday present)

I think I am noticing it more with child number 3 and appreciating it greatly because, I am so much more in tune with myself as a person and mother, and I make time to enjoy it. With baby 1, I had no idea what I was doing. I look back on it now and feel like it was such an odd time in my life. The birth was hard, we were living in London, I had no family or friends around me and sleep deprivation was a killer. When baby 2 arrived, I was so pre-occupied with my 2 year old potty-training toddler, trying to work, feeling tired and in all honesty, not being in any kind of groove – I don’t even remember noticing much of what went on – apart from the typical milestones like walking. When I am asked what my second daughter’s first word was, the answer is, I don’t know!

One of the real bonuses, for me, of having a baby at 43 (with a bit of a gap from the others) is that I am so much more present. I really really love it. It doesn’t mean to say I am any better a mum this time around, or was worse back then, it just means that I am aware, a bit calmer and I am enjoying it more – even the thousands of tiny food bits I have to clear up off the floor each day, but I have been doing that for 9 years, so that’s just part of motherhood right?

I think the feeling of being more present, comes from age a little bit, but mainly from that fact that I am now a confident woman – I wasn’t once! Confidence brings clarity and calm to all parts of life, especially motherhood, for example, I haven’t read one baby book or fallen for the latest gadget this time around, which is very different to how I behaved back in my 30’s as a mother. I trust myself, I know myself and I like myself and this filters into how I am at home, as a mum. I love being an older Mummy, it really is one of the best things I ever did.

Do you feel confident as a mother? Do you notice and enjoy the little things? I understand that motherhood is very complex and it isn’t easy, there are so many factors too that can make it such hard (work, partners, PND, PTSD, finances, family and more) and if you are struggling seek the appropriate help.

If you are an older mum, follow me on INSTAGRAM , facebook or join my thriving fb group WE ARE GERIATRIC MUMS

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A chat with Rachael

Rachael is an inspiration. After being diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, she went on to have her baby boy, Elliot at 42. Read all about Rachael and her story below, and her fab realisation at the end of the piece.

What is your current age?

44

At what age did you have your first baby?

42

At what age did you have your last baby?

42 – and sadly, I cannot have any more.

How did people react when you told them you were pregnant with your over 40 baby?

People were pleased. He was my first and he was my miracle post-cancer baby. I was child-free when I was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 36, and it is one of those things that women of that age don’t think will happen to them – but it does. My  first thought when I was diagnosed with breast cancer was “Can I still have children?”.  My breast care nurse was fantastic and, encouragingly, she told me to leave it with her. Three days after our conversation, I had an appointment at a fertility clinic. Many people don’t realise that chemotherapy can make you infertile – so freezing eggs / embryos is potentially an option for women who want to try and have a baby. I ended up freezing 7 embryos.

After active, hospital-based treatment, I was put on hormone therapy for two years – this is prescribed to reduce the risk of recurrence as much as possible. After the two years had passed, my Oncologist gave us the okay to try for a family.  We wanted to try to get pregnant naturally first, but after three months of trying, with no success, we decided to go ahead and use our frozen embryos. I had two rounds of IVF, both with the embryos that we had had frozen. Sadly, the first round didn’t produce a successful outcome – I did fall pregnant, but at my seven-week viability scan, they could see a heartbeat, but it was measuring small. A week later, I went for a follow up scan, and there was no heartbeat – I’d had a missed miscarriage. For round two, I had three frozen embryos left but only two survived being thawed. We decided to transfer both and hope that at least one was viable. Amazingly, one survived and was implanted, resulting in my little boy, Elliot. He is a two-year-old bundle of energy, and although things can be exhausting at times, I would not change them for the world. Without that final attempt at IVF, we wouldn’t have had children.

Were you offered any memorable words of wisdom when you spoke to others (friends, family, midwife, doc) about your pregnancy?

Not really no. I think they knew I just wanted him here safe and sound. They knew how much this meant to me and everyone was there for me to give me support. I was on blood thinners during the pregnancy and was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so my medical team kept a close eye on me. I didn’t mind at all, I found it reassuring rather than intrusive that I was being closely monitored and cared for. My midwife was brilliant – I felt comforted that she fully understood my situation. As a result of breast cancer, I only have one boob, and during my pregnancy I found myself stressing about breastfeeding – but my midwife reassured me it was possible. Sadly, after Elliot was born, I did not produce any breast milk, so we bottle fed him – but we tried.

Describe how it felt to be an older (geriatric) mum?

I felt isolated. During my pregnancy I went to NCT classes, and whilst I met some lovely people, in all honesty I was scared witless. I had no birth plan (I didn’t want one) and I just wanted my baby here safely. In addition, I was so used to being independent, and the thought of such a huge change in lifestyle was quite daunting.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer I was a bit of a workaholic. Ironically I was working in research and development – on oncology clinical trials for a pharmaceutical company and was working on a breast cancer drug at the time. I was busy and focused, and being a mum wasn’t something that I had in my life plan. When I met my current partner, I knew that I wanted a family. When I was diagnosed and during my treatment, my breast cancer gave me a huge reality check. I’d faced my own mortality. I’d understood, pretty much overnight, that I wasn’t invincible and my illness had helped me to recognise what was important to me. When I was diagnosed, one of my first thoughts was, “What if I die and I’ve never been a mum? What if I die having never experienced childbirth or parenthood?” Those questions are the harsh reality of a cancer diagnosis as a woman.

I won’t have any more children, Elliot is our one and only. I am taking Tamoxifen (my hormone medication) and will be for the foreseeable future. I’m disappointed that Elliott won’t have a sibling, but feel so lucky that he is in our lives. He is loved beyond words, he is our little miracle.  

Newborn Elliot

Is your child in school yet? and if so, how do the other mums and teachers react?

No – he is at a fab nursery which he loves and has lots of little friends there. And no-one has referred to me as grandma! (yet). 

Please write here about anything you think fellow geriatric mums would love to read about; advice, coping mechanisms, exercise beauty, body, pelvic floor or anything humorous or helpful.

Oh – I am happy to talk about my IVF/ breast cancer experience – ask away! Plus, I now know that being an older mum doesn’t mean your life goes on hold – it just changes. My biggest learning was not comparing my child to others – he did everything in his own time. Initially, I invested too much energy and worry in why he wasn’t doing things as fast as other children, rather than enjoying being in the moment. I’ve learned now that he is perfect as he is, and will do things at his own pace.

Rachael and Elliot
Elliot enjoying an ice cream

What an inspiring lady – Rachael you totally rock!

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A Chat with Linzi

This post is about Linzi, a mum of twins. Despite living with illness, Linzi had healthy twins at 42 and in this interview she tells you what she faced and some of her experiences when she was pregnant and as an older mum. Over to you Linzi…

What is your full name? Linzi Meaden

What is your current age? 44

At what age did you have your first baby? 42

At what age did you have your last baby? 42

How did people react when you told them you were pregnant with your over 40 baby? Well my parents were floored! They never thought they would be grandparents and so it was the best news ever for them, and others were hugely excited and happy for us. Only a couple of people suggested it would be harder work and that they are glad they now have teenagers, not babies!

Were you offered any memorable words of wisdom when you spoke to others (friends, family, midwife, doc) about your pregnancy? Not really. Because I was expecting twins my family and friends couldn’t relate, so understandably no advice was offered. My midwife, doctors and consultant all said that it would be tough at my age!

Describe how it felt to be an older (geriatric) mum? For me, it felt the right age. I wasn’t ready in my twenties and was too ill with Crohn’s disease in my thirties. Being 40-something meant I no longer cared what others thought, too. I can remember saying, when I was 30-something, that I never wanted to be an older mum! Oops! I’ll admit that I’m exhausted with having twins and chronic illness too, but I can’t actually put into words just how blessed and lucky I feel to finally be a mum… a mother! It is love at a completely new level and I highly recommend it.

Is your child in school yet? and if so, how do the other mums and teachers react?No, they are only little. 

And below, Linzi has written some more about her experience of pregnancy, birth, babies and more. It is a lovely story and amazing what the human body can do even when faced with the struggles of illness.

From the age of 27 I was in and out of hospital having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, associated arthritis and osteoporosis – an illness normally reserved for post-menopausal women. As a result, dating was off the cards whilst I focused on my health and holding down a career in HR.

Fast forward to 2007, I was 32 and I decided to go speed-dating with a friend on the eve of St Valentines Day. That night I met my now husband, who also happens to be an amazing hypnotist – am I still under his hypnotic spell I wonder?!! Ha ha!  On our first official date he told me he had 2 boys from a previous relationship (not married).  They were 6 and 4-years old and looked super cute in the photograph, we didn’t have Smart phones back then!

A few years later, he proposed on my birthday in 2011, which was also the eve of the Royal Wedding (Kate & William), and we planned to marry in 2012.  However, in November 2011 I decided to start looking at venues and found a beautiful country house with a last-minute date available – it was just 4 and a half weeks away and we we went for it.  Several family members asked if I was pregnant, I wasn’t, and we got married on 20 December 2011. It was a fabulous Christmas wedding.

My husband and I set up our own business together and had plans to relocate to LA, with a therapy clinic in Beverly Hills.  We were rushed off our feet with business, travelling and making plans and the years just flew by without us realising how much older we were getting.

In February 2016 I visited my Chiropractor and realising I was ‘late’ I popped to the chemist to get the magic stick.  When I got home, I tested straight away and yep, I was pregnant – it took seconds to show the positive reading.  We were both absolutely over the moon, yet a little bit apprehensive about being ‘older parents’ – my husband was almost 49 and I was 42.

After speaking to midwife, I was referred to the hospital for a 9-week scan.  Thinking it would be a general check, I said to my husband he didn’t have to come along as the 12-week scan wasn’t far away.  To my total amazement, the sonographer turned the screen towards me and voiced “here’s one healthy heartbeat and look, here’s another… you’re expecting two babies”. Well, that floored me!  I could not believe it and I burst into tears. Part of me wished that I hadn’t said to my husband he didn’t need to be there, I would love to have seen his face.  Anyway, that evening, I left a bottle of brandy with the scan pictures in the kitchen for him to see when he got home.  When looking at the scan image, he thought that there was just one baby and only when I told him to look carefully it clicked that there was two. The brandy was most definitely needed!

geriatric-mum-of-twins
The much needed brandy!

I suffered with bad morning sickness, so had to stop seeing clients.  We managed a last holiday away to Spain before our new arrivals, so that I could top up my Vitamin D levels and I even got a last round of golf in back home in the UK when I was about 6 months pregnant – that was fun!

We joined an NCT group and had our first local group meet up in September 2016.  There was another mummy expecting twins who I’d met at the local TAMBA meet up in May of that year, so it was good to be able to share the experience of expecting twins.  We were super lucky in that our group of 8 couples (expecting 2 sets of twins and 6 singletons) everyone was friendly and fun.  The youngest parent (mum) was 27 and the eldest, well yes, that was us!  The majority being 30 somethings.  We set up a whatsapp group and we’ve messaged every single day since.  We all regularly meet up, with and without the children, and I can’t imagine life without them – each and every one of them is amazing and I’m proud to be able to call them our friends for life.

Fast forward to the birth itself. We opted for caesarean section based on medical advice.  I had no idea what to expect. We were advised that the twins were to be born no later than 38 weeks and we chose 31 October (Halloween) to give birth to our little witch and wizard, which was 37 weeks and 3 days.  The pregnancy itself went really well, apart from the morning sickness. I was lucky because growing 2 or more babies, being geriatric (!) and having a chronic illness on medication could have gone against me, but it didn’t. Even the C-section was a breeze with the relaxing sound of Il Divo playing in the theatre.  Shortly after the birth, I started to feel pretty damn awful, despite being dosed up on morphine, but I couldn’t feel awful because two hungry little mouths and squinty little eyes were looking up at me wanting food and comfort.

geriatric-mum-of-twins
The new twins!

From that moment, my life changed, and it’s been the best most amazing time ever.  I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I am over 40 and I gave birth to 2 babies at the same time.  Yes! I’m exhausted, but that just says to be me that I’m doing something right.

geriatric-mum-of-twins

Thanks to Linzi for sharing her story on geriatric mum. Do make sure you are following geriatric mum on social media, links below:

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Lucy x

Consultant Care

As a 42-year old woman of advanced maternal age, I am under consultant care – which I have to say feels good. It feels good to be cared for and knowing that my unborn baby is cared for, too. In my situation, consultant care means I had my first consultant appointment at the hospital at 22-weeks and I have been told I will have further appointments with her at 28, 32 and 36 weeks. I understand that this is standard practice for older mums-to-be which I am told (by my consultant) is 40+, although Mr Google does produce 35+ as a measure. I am currently researching the definition of a geriatric mum further so when I find out the official age, I will post it for all to see – although I suspect this differs a bit depending on who you talk to and what county you live in.

lucy-baker-geriatric-mum

One of the joys of being pregnant is seeing the very first scan, the heartbeat, the fingers and toes and the backbone in all its glory and knowing that we have access to free ultrasound scans throughout our pregnancies in the United Kingdom, is pretty incredible. Over the duration of my first two pregnancies, I had the standard 12-week and 20-week scan and it was left at that. This time around I have already had five scans. Each time they were booked so that the sonographer could re-check some measurements and to look at polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) which was pointed out as a concern at my 20-week one. This since has subsided a little, but it is still at high-normal.

I took my mum to one of the scans and she was quite amazed. I am the youngest of three children and 42-years ago there were no routine baby scans like we have today. She didn’t have a single scan in any of her three pregnancies so to see a baby wriggling around at 16-weeks was pretty incredible for her. I went in on my own first for fear of bad news I think, plus the girls were with us so it felt best to go in to be checked first. It was the school summer holidays and my parents were visiting from Lincolnshire and I did really want my mum to be with me for support and so that she could experience the kind of scan we get in modern maternity care. The kids and Mum were fascinated, my eldest kept saying “is that the head”… “what’s that bit” over and over and the sonographer didn’t seem to be overly keen that she was there asking 101 questions. I tried to do the SHHH eyes but it didn’t help a bit. She was too excited and it was lovely. I wonder if they will remember seeing their little brother in years to come?

lucy-baker-geriatric-mum

In a recent consultant letter that was sent to my GP and CC’d to me, it read “despite her age of 42”. Now this has to be taken in context and I don’t want to copy the letter out for the purposes of this post, but I have to say that I smiled when I saw it. I have no problem with my age or the fact that I am pregnant at 42 and I understand that the medical profession note it down because there are known increased risks of having a baby at a later stage in your life – 40+. The harder thing for me, as I said in my first ever post (https://geriatricmum.co.uk/42-and-pregnant/), was the reaction of the people around me, do read the post to see what some of them said.

I do always come back to the fact that we are so lucky to see and know what is happening to our babies during our pregnancies and like I said before, as an older mother, I do feel extra well cared for with phone calls from my consultant, letters from the consultant, numerous scans and more to come and nice conversations at my hospital meetings.

My advice, thus far as a GM, would be to question the questions, ask for the reason why, to understand what the medical professionals are telling or advising you and to take care of yourself throughout the process. We all know that pregnancy and birth can be exciting, worrying, troubling, fearful yet amazing – but we don’t always know how to ask for what we need or to understand fully what we are being told along the way. The medical profession looks after us women of advanced maternal age and we need to ensure that our friends and family do that, too.

Lucy Baker, 42, 26-weeks pregnant

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