Monthly Archives: September 2013

8 Ways Parenting is Different When You’re Older

I was 18 when I had my first baby – almost 40 when I had the twins. A lot has changed since I did it all the first time around. Food comes in pouches now, cloth diapers have made a mad comeback, and there are all sorts of wonderful inventions that make it easier to have an infant. I’m a fan. As my grandmother likes to tell me – don’t let anyone lie to you about the “good old days”. Everything was harder back then. It was HARD raising babies.

But accoutrements are not the only thing different this time around. The biggest difference is me. Parenting when you’re 18 is a wild ride. In some respects, it was easier. I honestly didn’t know any better. I remember distinctly when I found out my first year at Barnard College that I was pregnant with my second child. Ophelia was 10 months old. “Whatever,” I told their dad dismissively while on the pay phone. “Two can’t be that much harder than one.”  Ignorance definitely got me through that time.

Just how different is it being a mom at 40? Here’s my two cents.

1. First, let’s start with the obvious. You’re no longer the “young hip mom”. And if you try to be hip, you end up like this. No words. I can not.

2. You get tired more easily. We actually weathered the twins first year pretty well. We were tired, but I don’t ever remember being exhausted. That may because I now have brain damage from sleep deprivation, but hey. They were easy babies.

3. Your body doesn’t jump back. Honestly, it kind of just sits there – all obstinate. When I was 18, I popped right back up. Now that I’m 40, I’ve got these changes that just make me raise my eyebrows. You know how women will hoist their boobs in, and then UP? You know – bend and snap? Yeah, well that’s what needs to happen to my butt. There’s some serious spread going on there. Sigh. WTF? In and up, ‘tocks. Get with the program.

4. You have a strong sense of your mortality. I was 38 when my first two children were adults!  Now, I’ll be 60 when the boys are grown. That’s retirement age! Having a child with special needs makes you particularly thoughtful when you’re older. August will likely never live alone. When he’s 40, I’ll be 80. His life expectancy is 65. That would make me 105 – ain’t gonna happen. These are the things I think about.

5. Parenting is the journey and the destination. When I was young, I was on fire. I went through wanting to become an architect, doing child abuse research, becoming a famous young writer, getting my Ph.D in spiritual ecology (I’ve got my acceptance letter for that one!), becoming a neurologist, moving to DC and studying American Relations. I could go on and on. God that was exhilarating. The whole world was there for you to craft. Today, I still have tons of interests and I’m still driven, but my family is my crowning piece of art. When you’re older, it becomes more about your relationships and less about what you’ll accomplish. Your family is your accomplishment.

6. You become a worry wart. I thought I would be an old hat this time around. I’m an experienced mom – I’ve successfully raised two children. Not so fast. I have this sense of dread and anxiety that often follows me around that I have to get bossy with to make it go away. I worry about accidents constantly. I think it’s because when you’re older, you don’t take for granted that things will be okay. Because sometimes, they’re not.

7. An intolerance for drama. Now that I’m older, I’m able to brush things off more and focus on what’s most important. Because I. do.not.have.time.for.petty. I’m able to quickly rid myself of drama and crazy.

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

 

8. More $$dollars$$. Now I can buy formula AND fix my teeth!

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Being older can mean you don’t struggle as much with money. Raising babies when I was 18 was some crazy shit. It was Maslow’s Hierarchy all the way. Thank God for paper food stamps and WIC government cheese!  You can raise happy healthy children on very little money, but it sure is easier when you’re stable.

And there you have it. 8 ways parenting is different when you’re older. Now, I’ve got to go downstairs and do some squats and give my butt a talking to.

 

Buckets of Hope – Surviving Multiple Miscarriages

This week, I had my third miscarriage. According to the numbers, 1-2% of women will experience 3 or more miscarriages. Not really something I would have chosen to be an overachiever on, if I’d been the one making the decision.

It’s a truly humbling experience, and the grieving is exhausting. I go back and forth between being numb, then jealous of others who seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat, then angry, then feeling more than a little sorry for myself, then numbness again.  Not pretty emotions to contend with. It’s embarrassing. Steph is my rock through it.

I’ve always said that fertility treatments are not for the faint of heart. Fertility treatments when you’re 40 bring that up another notch. It takes a resolve of steel, a willingness to be on a roller coaster of emotions, a willingness to not be in control, flexibility, and great big buckets of hope.

But, our story is not a sad one. After our 3 year journey to get pregnant,  we won the baby jackpot last year with our twins, Liam and August. Their birth story is here. Honestly, given my repeated miscarriages, they are my little miracles. I am beyond grateful for them, and get an immense amount of joy being their momma!

But, as my friend Lindsay said, “Grieving what you’ve lost does not make you less grateful for what you have. They are two separate things.” She is a wise woman. And so I go about the messy business of being grateful one moment and being devastated the next.

You’d think I would stop the roller coaster, but here’s the thing. I have this vision for my family of a house filled with children. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s the vision I have. Messy, bustling, loud, filled with cute little beings working hard to grow up into big, kind, beautiful beings. I know the path is not always a rosy one- I’m not oblivious to the trials that come along with teenagers. Please. I’ve raised two children already. They excelled at being rebellious teenagers. We did not slide by on that one in any stretch of the imagination.

And yet, it’s still my dream. I just have to be open to how and when that will happen. That’s continued to be my mantra from day one, and it still is.

My blogger friend Ashley, of Baddest Mother Ever, told me that things changed for her the day that she realized she was meant to be someone’s mother, not necessarily have a baby. A gentle but profound shift in thinking. That’s a good reminder to me. If these rounds with my last little frosties (what we in the fertility world call our frozen little embryos) don’t work, then I will gratefully accept the embryos from some very young chick who was so fertile she only needed a small portion of the eggs she produced and is selflessly donating them to chicks like me.

We also are starting the path to becoming foster parents, and plan on pursuing adoption through that path. I am cracked wide open with fear and excitement going down this path, but it feels right. We have so much love to give.

The thing is, I will get my brood of children, but I must be open to how. That’s always been my mantra, through the first two miscarriages. This will happen for me, I just have to be open to when and how.

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I’m a fairly private person, especially when it comes to sharing things that are still painful, but I wanted to share this with others who may be struggling to make their dream a reality – whether that’s having a baby, or getting a degree, or making a move.

My best advice to myself and others is to get crystal clear about what you want, and then go for it 110%. In the times when it seems impossible, or you have no control, lug out your heavy, sloshing buckets of hope. They’ll get you through. They’re getting me through right now.

Onward to the next step. Healing, standing up, dusting off, and trying again.