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.)