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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

About That Advanced Maternal Age

My doctor recently- and apologetically- told me that with this pregnancy I fall into a new category.  Apparently I am considered to be of "advanced maternal age." 

Well that's just neato.

I'm 35, and that means I'm on the downhill side of the childbearing years... apparently.  They must have heard that I'm just so excited to be finding grey hairs and applying anti-wrinkle cream.  My dreams will now be filled with visions of AARP reps gleefully rubbing their hands together. 

But I don't feel like I have advanced maternal age, so in the doctor's office I rolled my eyes and we both laughed.  Whatever. 
  
I haven't really gotten the worst of it, though.  Strangers have asked Cabbage several times if Beep is his granddaughter.  He's 46. 

He's kind in his responses and laughs about it, but it pisses me off.  Usually it sends me into an internal monologue sniping about "short generation intervals are for inbreds and idiots" and "we chose to take our time" and "he's not old enough to be a grandfather" and "people can really be thoughtless jackwagons."    

I feel like I'm exactly the right age to be having babies, because I have the maturity and desire to research and learn about pregnancy and childrearing, to listen to reason, and to take advice in measured amounts.  I've arrived at a point in my life where I should be having children.  Cabbage feels the same way.

Our younger years were whirlwinds of college, friends, parties, trips, trials, learning and testing and blessedly- finally- finding our way to each other when we were ready to settle down.  Neither of us have any regrets about those well-spent youthful years, but neither do we look back on those days wistfully.

We don't mind staying home on Friday nights, or rocking a baby to sleep instead of going to a concert, or early mornings with filled with footie pajamas and gleeful screaming matches.  We're right where we want to be. 


I realize the timing and the inclination to have children is different for everyone, and some people are ready earlier or later than I was.  Fortunately for me, in my group of friends most of us chose to pursue college, then more college, build a career path, fall in love along the way, smell the roses, and then have children.  I didn't feel any peer pressure to have babies earlier.

In the last few years, though, I've heard several young people (a demographic I can no longer claim as my own, apparently... you know, what with my advanced maternal age) comment that "I want to have kids while I'm young enough to play with them/enjoy them/have a life after they grow up."

Hmm.

Maybe they aren't aware that I am fully capable of playing with my baby at the age of 35.  More than that, it's all I want to do.

Maybe they haven't realized that creaky knees don't keep me from wrestling with Beep, or that sore shoulders never stopped Cabbage from swinging her.  And we have the patience to do it until she says to stop.

Maybe they don't know I don't mind being older than other parents because at night I go to a home filled with wonder and love and a steadfastness that I could not have provided at 24.

I bet they don't yet understand that there is no reason to think you have to put off your life until after kids.  You can have a life before, during, and after raising them.  Nothing goes on hold for kids, really, and Cabbage and I have simply folded our baby into our lifestyle.


So here's the thing.  I'm okay with my so-called advanced maternal age.  It's the perfect age.  And I hope the next time someone asks Cabbage if Beep's his granddaughter, he tells them to shove it.

14 comments:

  1. You took those words right from my mouth, Katie. Last week heralded 35 years of being blessed to enjoy sunrises everyday, and I am only now ready to think about kids. I'm hopeful of sharing my life and having those little smiles, full diapers and sleepless nights be the day to day moments.

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  2. Age has no real influence on love, commitment, responsibility. That's character. The ONLY thing that counts is that those new little human beings are treasured and cared for and loved beyond belief! As they grow and mature, parental joints will creak but the wisdom gained by life experiences cannot be understated. All of those children are fortunate to have parents who truly want them.

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    1. I agree. And people are ready at different ages.

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  3. A) Ouch, to hear that from your doctor! But the few photos I have seen of you you look like 25 anyway.

    B) Beautifully said, every point. I was not even old enough to drink when I became a Mom and loved it... but I do look back and realize how much I have grown and stabilized in the 17 years since. WOW.

    C)Congratulations to you and Cabbage, what a beautiful family you are raising, please do take care and keep us updated!!

    xoxo
    ~marie

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    1. My doctor was kinda embarrassed to have to even tell me about it, I think (she's about my age). We laughed about it. :) And good for you for being a great mom earlier in your life- motherhood is so challenging at every age! And thank you. :)

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  4. Beautifully said. I have to say all this judging other people for their choices thing is starting to tick me off.

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  5. I was 31 when my son was born, and I know that my ability to be patient and loving and mature even when he's really testing me is much greater than it would have been at any time in my 20s. When I see really young mothers, I worry a little about them and their babies. I know not everyone is like me in terms of patience, etc, but I do know that having a child was the most difficult thing I've ever done and I worry that very young parents don't have the resources yet to handle those difficulties. I don't plan to have another baby until I'm at that "advanced maternal age" and I know that it's what's best for our family because it means I can offer a warm, loving and patient home for our entire family.

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    1. Hi Emily. Thanks for your thoughtful and honest comments! And (in the future) I'll welcome to the Advanced Maternal Age Club. Come on in, the water's fine!

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  6. Cabbage needs to ask the people who think he is Beeps Grandpa if they are taking anything for that stupidity. Ugh. Some of my crappiest days have been because of people who don't know me inserting themselves into my life and making statements. Especially those "well meaning" people who comment on the age difference between Josie and Sarah. Just because there's 5 years there they think there's something to be said when in fact they don't even begin to understand. I've been asked everything from if we had a hard time conceiving to if we like that "large" age gap etc. It burns. And now my rant is over. I do think you are rockin' it at your advanced maternal age ;-)

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  7. Madaline FoglesongApril 13, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Hi! This was an excellent read. I'm going to be 35 in July. I don't have kids, but every single day I think about having kids, worry that I'm too old to have kids, and by the end of the day I just give up on ever having kids because I waited too long. Then it all starts again the next day. I never ever ever in my life thought having a baby or not having a baby would be so heavy on my mind. Reading posts like this make me feel a lot better. I like that part about folding a baby into your lifestyle. That's perfect. And hi to Emily Guy Birken! I'm here because I just read your matzah post, which was also an excellent read.

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  8. I just found your blog through The (not always) Lazy W, and have been enjoying reading through your posts. I wholeheartedly agree with your observation that everyone is ready at different ages, and your implied sentiment that each of us has to make that decision for ourselves. We started our family at 23, and had our 4th at 36. It was an adventure, but one we were ready for. But, about that advanced age thing...Now, at 53, I am starting to get solicitations for legacies. You know, "As you write your will, please remember your alma mater," that sort of thing. Yeah. That makes you feel old in a hurry!

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I love reading your comments and hearing what you think, so please chime in. Keep it civil. It's how we roll here at Cabbage Ranch.