When I graduated from Georgetown University, starting a family couldn’t have been farther from my mind. I was focused on pursuing my career, which at the time was as an actress, and then producer. I devoted all of my free time to taking classes, and when I wasn’t working my day job, I was pounding the pavement. After a few years of doing this in New York City, I moved to Los Angeles, where I continued my journey.
The process of pursuing my dream lasted the entirety of my twenties. Somewhere in there I traveled a bit. And I learned. A lot. Not just about how to act or produce, but about life. I learned a lot from the rejection that comes with the industry. I learned about perseverance and patience, and about overcoming adversity. And I learned how to make a tiny budget stretch really far.
When I decided that I was done with the exhausting 14-hour days and contract work of the entertainment industry, I moved back to the East Coast to get my MBA. At the time, I also started training for and running half marathons. I learned more. Not just about business and about pacing myself for a two-hour run, but about the importance of having foresight and planning.
When I settled down with my husband, and we decided to have our first child, I was already 33 years old. Now that I’m pregnant with my second, I’ve reached a milestone. I am officially having a “geriatric pregnancy.” Sounds sexy, doesn’t it?
While some more progressive sites and doctors are now calling it “Advanced Maternal Age,” it doesn’t sound much better. When you’re over 35 and decide to have a baby, you’re considered way over the hill, at least in medical terms. It turns out, though, that I’m far from alone in my pursuit of having a child at a ripe old age. In 2013, 15% of births were to women 35 and older. While that’s not the majority of pregnant women, it’s a healthy number. And it’s rapidly growing as time goes on.
The medical field isn’t wrong about recommending that women have children earlier. It certainly can help avoid certain complications, the rates of which increase as we age. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities (including Down syndrome and Trisomy 18) increases greatly. Plus, more women have difficulty conceiving the older they get. Aside from the issues at a cellular level, you’re just that much more exhausted as you age. I can’t count how many times I’ve run after my toddler, exclaiming how much easier this would be if I were 25 years old. And doing that while pregnant has taken my understanding of fatigue to spectacular new levels.
But since life happens when it happens, I have no choice but to look at the positives of my situation. Prior to having kids, I not only had the time to get my interests and passions in line, but I was able to live life. I have lived in several big cities in the U.S., and even abroad. I took the time I needed to find “Mr. Right.” My husband and I had years to get to know each other before procreating.
Almost more important than all of that, though, is the fact that I feel I’m a better mother as a result of my “advanced maternal age.” I now have patience that I simply did not possess ten years ago. I know more about life and the curve balls it can throw at a person. I have learned self-respect, about relationships and friendships, and about what really matters at the end of a long, exhausting day. I’m not suggesting that someone in her 20s isn’t capable of learning these lessons, but I do know that my children would have been at a disadvantage if I had them during the traditional birthing years. I learned life lessons by living life, and I am now in a position to impart them to my kids.
Plus, let’s face it: had I married and settled down with the boyfriend I was dating when I was 25, we would either be divorced by now or incredibly unhappy. And that’s not good for anyone.
So while we may have more aches and pains and unbearable fatigue, and while we may endure more miscarriages or failed attempts at pregnancy, we old mommies take the bad with the good. And it’s worth every moment.