We're Expecting Baby #5! Why...?!
After the fourth baby, people stop congratulating you and instead just look at you like, "why?..." I had entered a new pregnancy era: I was now in my 40s and challenging the outer limits of the number of kids a couple's allowed to have before making people uncomfortable (the acceptable number is 4, by the way).
When I used to have four kids, people would often comment admiringly about the size of my family. Then when I had five kids, people would look at me like I had a screw loose or try to figure me out (is she a Quiverfull believer? Catholic? Mormon? A Korean Michelle Duggar?) as if I had to be affiliated with a special group or apply for a license to have so many kids.
I'll be honest, when we learned we were expecting Baby #5, there were worries and anxieties about all the unknowns. For the first time, my age was a real concerning factor and not in a good way. OB visits for my first four babies were pretty routine but once I was on the cusp of 40, suddenly there were additional blood tests, higher possibilities of genetic abnormalities, and a new unease to the pregnancies. Girlfriends would ask me quietly, "aren't you worried? I don't think I'd do it."
And on top of that, the happy news of Baby #5, was not welcome news to my extended family. There was discord and angry words - some felt it was irresponsible of me to be having babies into my 40s. Why? What's the point? You already have four(!) kids. Raise the ones that you already have. You can't even get them to school (because that's why we homeschool, folks - I homeschool because I can't manage to park my kids on a street curb to wait for a bus - you found me out... *eyeroll*). One family member was convinced that my babies after 40 were unintended "accidents" and came about due to lack of prophylactic diligence on my part. I suspect the thinking was, who would willingly expand their already big family into their 40s, intentionally? (Okay, #6 was a surprise but in the very best way).
Call Me Sarah
Also, it didn't help that when we started sharing the good news, well-meaning women would bring up the story of Sarah from the Old Testament and reference her "late pregnancy" as if to comfort or console me, I don't know which. Ha! I didn't feel I needed comforting or consoling. I may have been in my 40s but I had the sweet baby bump to prove that I was still in the baby making game. Talk to the hand, AARP. And sure, I was no blushing twenty-something when babe-lings 5 and 6 came along but I wasn't really feeling that old... In my mind and in my heart I was still ME. Not "younger" me or "older" me. I was just still me, doing what I love to do, making dem babies. And to those who feel our world is overpopulated, I do not feel socially irresponsible for embracing the big family lifestyle. My kids are not unfairly using up the earth's precious resources. Children ARE the earth's most precious resources.
Binkies and Bifocals
Baby #5 arrived two days before my 40th birthday and baby #6 made his debut two months after I turned 44. I was in new-mommy mode for the 5th and 6th times. During an exceptionally hard day, when my back was acting up (again) and I was knee deep in spit-up, dirty diapers, and newborn baby binkies, I had a weak moment and thought to myself, "This is a young woman's game. I am too old for this... My stretch marks are old enough to get a driver's license! " In the midst of my pity-party, my Doogie Howser optometrist dealt a devastating blow to my vanity... "you'll be needing bifocals". All that came on the heels of a new hair stage that I was not taking in stride - grey hair.
Binkies and bifocals had become my new normal. I am often the oldest mom in the mommy circles among my younger kids' friends. The freshness of youthful motherhood has worn off and I've definitely not perfected the art of motherhood - but that's okay. I am wiser (experience and hindsight make great teachers), more patient (could be "patienter" still, but that's for another blog...), financially stable, and not filled with first-time-everything anxieties. Babies after 40 is challenging and exhausting, especially with older kids in the mix (including tweens and teens) but most of all and above all else, it is absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it.
I decided to stop worrying and just go with the baby flow because my baby making days were truly coming to an end and I wasn't going to let anything or anyone put a damper on one of the most joyous and unique experiences reserved for women. I decided that I was going to own 'baby-after-40' and make large family life the best adventure of my life. Whatever was awaiting for us on the other end of those blood tests and genetic tests and everything else, our growing family would be the source of support and strength for one another and not the growing burden that never should have been.
Don't get me wrong, some days are epically hard and there are times when I've felt shatteringly small and severely underqualified for the responsibilities demanded of a homeschooling mother of many. But those are just days and those are just moments, albeit hard ones. Take a deep breath, be a little kinder to yourself and keep on loving them hard every day. I am so grateful for each and every one of my babies and I am so thankful to have this forum to share with you. I would love to hear your family story!
Thanks for listening.
(Sarah from the Bible was a rebel mom and she had long hair, too *wink*. New mamas after 40, we're in good company.)
I am always on the hunt for ways to better streamline our large family living. If I happen to spot you in public with your big family, I'll probably stop and ask to take a peek in your full-size van since I'm in the market for a new one myself (I currently own a red '06 Honda Odyssey but we are at full capacity and it. is. snug. The car walls are starting to close in on us. If we're at co-op together, I may ask how you tame your ever growing laundry beast. And bedtimes - do you stagger them by age or have one blanket bed hour? And lastly, do you buy individual lunch size snack packs (pricey) or do you go big, Costco style, and then dole out smaller portions into your own snack size baggies (cheaper but time consuming).
So whether you're a big family lifer, like me, or just curious to see how we do things, here's a peek into some of our stats. We are still a fairly young family - my four boys have yet to hit the teen years and eat us out of house and home. So we haven't yet had to take out a loan for groceries (yet!) Here we go:
70-90 eggs consumed per week
45 bananas weekly
4 gallons of milk weekly (that's cRaZy lots for a half-Asian family! I grew up in a Korean family of 5 and we rarely got through a quart of milk before it expired.)
10 cups of uncooked rice for a day's worth of meals
$50 average for fast-food drive-thru
$1,400 monthly grocery bill
$100 for a movie and snacks (cheaper at second-run theaters)
70 average number of towels washed per week
16-18 number of laundry loads per week
160 nails clipped weekly
7 numbers of years we've been homeschooling
2,000+ books (...I stopped counting)
300 Ticonderoga pencils annually (the Rolls Royce of #2 pencils)
9 number of diaper bags I've owned over the years (don't judge me)
2 cars whenever we go anywhere because we don't all fit in the mini-van
So that's a small peek into our life in numbers. If you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to share, I'm all ears. Books and kids are my weaknesses - I can't stop collecting them. How about you? What are your favorite things to collect?
People have told me that middle-aged women shouldn't rock long hair - especially middle-aged MOMS. Other advice I never asked for but got includes how I shouldn't homeschool because "blahblahblah". I shouldn't have too many kids (somebody please tell me what's "too many" kids?). I should get my tubes tied. I shouldn't have babies after 40. I shouldn't marry outside of my race. Yada, yada, yada. If I'd listened to all the well meaning advice I've gotten over the years about how to better be ME...oy!
BUT, I didn't. I've lived my life on my own terms and I don't see myself changing any time soon just to conform to any preconceived notions of how I should look or behave at any age.
I am a happy wife and homeschooling mom of six awesome bi-racial ninjas and yes, I am middle-aged and yes, I have LONG LONG hair...
So what is 45? This is 45: You do you and rock that middle age Like. A. Boss.
I wasn't going to post this photo. So many details about this pic bother me. The detail that bothered me the most is that I. am. not. smiling.
I always envied people who didn't smile when they didn't feel like it. I wanted that ease and that level of self-acceptance. I didn't have that and so I smiled. I smiled first, last, and often, in-between. If you're smiling, people don't ask, "what's wrong?" If you're smiling and joking around, people think everything is okay and I guess I wanted everything to be okay because I didn't know how to handle when things weren't okay, and so I smiled.
I still smile a lot. If there was a daily quota for smiles, I'm pretty sure I would nail it every single day. And with 6 amazing and often hilarious kids, I have a lot to smile about. But you know what? Not smiling is okay, too. It's okay to have those feelings and emotions that have no room for a smile. It's taken me a long time to accept this for myself. I want my children to know that it's okay to have feelings and emotions that are not smile-worthy. Those life experiences are just as real and important as the happy ones so don't hide them and don't apologize for them - if you address them and work throught them, a genuine smile may be waiting for you.
Sometimes it's okay not to smile. Some of you may be thinking that's a no-brainer but for me it's personal growth. Once again, I'm glad you dropped by. You are awesome!
12 fun facts about a MANGAmom
Fun Fact #1: I love snapchat (sorry, kids...) and I'm 45
Fun Fact #2: I have gained and lost over 250 pounds over the course of 9 pregnancies.
Fun Fact #3: I thought it was Downtown Abbey for like a really long time...
Fun Fact #4: I rarely use vinegar in my cooking but I ALWAYS use it in my laundry.
Fun Fact #5: I lovelovelove words and can rap/rhyme just about anything
Fun Fact #6: I've never met another Yu Na but I've been told there's a popular videogame character with the same name
Fun Fact #7: I have been married to the same guy for twenty years (we've been together 26). It hasn't always been roses but the best times of my life have included him and so I am doubling down and shooting for forevermore trips around the sun together.Fun Fact
#8: By the time Baby #6 is potty trained, I will have changed approximately 36,500 diapers. "Just call me Master Huggies, grashopper."
Fun Fact #9: Growing up I always thought I had big feet. It turns out they're actually kinda small. I am 5'4" and my feet are a size 6.5
Fun Fact #10: I am not on facebook (I'm waiting for it to get really big before I join...)
Fun Fact #11: I don't own a Costco membership (I know, it doesn't make sense...)
Fun Fact #12: I like to read books upside down (the book, not me!)
Bonus Fact: I can recite all the lines in John Wick 2 (including the Russian and Yiddish). I watched the entire film while walking on my treadmill every.single.day. no excuses. That's how I dropped the last 50 post-baby pounds. I call it John Wick Cardio. "People keep asking if I'm back and I haven't really had an answer but now yeah, I'm thinking I'm back!" WOO-HOO! Bye-Bye, postpartum pounds!