True Story: I Had My First Child At 40

Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Julie; I am 44 and I live in Seattle with my husband and my 4-year-old son.  I own a perfume line called Olivine Atelier and I spend as much time as possible with my family playing and traveling!

From what age did you know that you wanted to be a mom?
I have known my entire life that I wanted to be a mom.  It was a given.  Of course, I thought it would happen a lot sooner!

How did you come to be pregnant with your first child at 39?
I started my own business when I was 24, so I’ve always been pretty focused on that.  To be honest, though, I would have dropped it all to have a baby! I had an amazing boyfriend all through my late 20s-early 30s and he just never wanted kids.  Ultimately, it ended up being a deal breaker for me and I had to move on.  I didn’t meet another man worthy of being a father until I was 37!

How did your friends and family react when you told them you were trying to get pregnant?
No one was even marginally surprised.  So much for mystery!

What advice did you doctor have for you when you told him/her you wanted to have a baby?
I went to my regular OB/GYN and she was awful.  She immediately made me have all these tests done because of my advanced age and some of the tests didn’t come back with such stellar numbers.  She told me that I was going to have a really hard time getting pregnant and that I should start taking ‘measures’ ASAP to try to make it happen.  I remember leaving her office in tears.  I never went back.

That afternoon I found a naturopath that specialized in fertility and she made me feel so much better. She told me that she felt very confident in my ability to get pregnant and advised me to cut out the sugar and relax.

Did you take any specific steps to get pregnant?
Ha! What didn’t I do? Acupuncture, Mayan abdominal massage, a fertility monitor, pineapple, Robitussin, meditation, supplements, fertility tea, Chinese herbs. If I had met a Voodoo Princess during that time I would have asked her for help as well.

How long did it take you to get pregnant? How did you feel during the process? Did you ever reach a point where you thought “this isn’t meant to be. I give up.”
It ended up taking about 1.5 years to get pregnant.  To be honest, it was the most frustrating, depressing, out of control time of my life.  I never lost the image in my mind though of me with that baby and I never gave up.

first-child-at-40

Tell us about the day you found out you were pregnant.
I peed on the stick and just sat there with my mouth hanging open, unable to speak.  I did three more tests because I just didn’t believe it. My husband was taking a nap when I found out, I woke him up by lining the tests all around his head.  I cleaned them first!

Did you have any specific tests on the baby when you were pregnant?
I did the bloodwork/ultrasound test and everything came back fine so we didn’t do any more testing.

How was your actual pregnancy?
It was amazing!  I loved being pregnant so much.  I took naps, went to yoga, matinees, got lots of massages…

Tell us about your little boy!  How are you enjoying motherhood?
Being a mama is the best thing I have ever done in my life.  My son will be four next month and each day is such an adventure.  I am learning how to be completely present in each moment because I don’t want to miss anything – time really does go by so fast!  I am learning patience, I am learning acceptance, and I am learning that I never knew how much I could possibly love someone.

If we know anyone who’s trying to get pregnant in their late thirties/early forties, what are some things we should NOT say?  How can we be as supportive as possible?
Two things…

1) Don’t ever tell a woman trying to conceive “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant. I have a friend that went on a vacation and came home pregnant!”  Trust me, she already knows this.

2) Don’t tell her about the dangers of having kids so late in life.  Trust me, she already know this, too.

What’s one thing you learned from this experience that any of us could apply to our day-to-day lives
Patience and being present are the two things that I take away from my own story.  While we were trying to get pregnant, I wish I had been more patient and stopped to really enjoy it.  It really can be fun trying to get pregnant!

I find that those two qualities are also the same things that make me feel like an awesome Mama on my good days!

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Julie! Do you guys have any questions for her?

8 Comments

Suzie

THANK YOU for sharing your story! I really needed this today – so encouraging. Lots of love to you and your family.

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Laura

I relate to this so much! I’m 35 and my boyfriend and I are only just now trying to get pregnant. I wish we could rewind time… we’ve known each other since we were 19 but didn’t get together till we were 33, and that was long distance for a year, so we’ve only been geographically together for a year. We’re now feeling like we have to put kids ahead of getting married, which ideally we would have liked to do first but here we are. (Obviously we don’t feel THAT strongly about being married first or we would just get married first I guess!) I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom and I still can’t quite believe that I’m the last of my friends to be kid-free, with the exception of those who don’t plan to become parents ever.

But I don’t feel too stressed about it either and so far I’m able to enjoy where I’m at (because I will thoroughly miss sleeping in and spending the occasional very lazy day reading on the couch) while still hoping each month for a plus sign on the pregnancy test 🙂

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Anna

Thanks for sharing your story! I was born when my mom was 39 and then my sister two years later. It’s fun to hear about the experience from the other side of the equation.

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Amanda

Wonderful story! I do think this post should have some contextualization, though. Sadly, only 5% of women at this age achieve pregnancy without fertility treatments. Without any caveats in place, this post may give false hope to readers who could postpone seeking treatment on the assumption that experiences like these are not exceptional, but normative.

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Brigitte

Agreed. Though I’m obviously very happy that you were able to conceive and have an (adorable!) child, this isn’t the case for a lot of women. We seem to only talk about “miracle” situations in which women are able to have children (usually with considerable fertility treatment), which skews the perception that having children later in life (late 30s and 40s) is commonplace. A lot of my girlfriends are under the impression that they have a LOT of time, when this isn’t really the case… In addition, you are lucky to be able to afford all the fertility treatments you did! Many women don’t have this luxury. In closing, I’m very happy for you and your family! but hope that we will start talking about this issue more realistically so that women (and their partners) can make life choices based on true odds, and not based on optimistic anecdotes.

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Sharon

Nice story! My mom was almost 41 when she had me, though I’m her third child. I’m from a second marriage and my mom lost a baby before me, so I wasn’t as much of a surprise as it sounds. Anyway, I totally understand some readers warning about inflated expectations, but hang in there! – a grown 40s baby’s perspective

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Gemma Alderton

Thankyou for sharing this story. I didn’t realise just how difficult it can be to get pregnant in your late thirties, thought it was more past 40…

Gem x

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