Hi from maternity leave, everyone!
That was a longer blog hiatus than I’d intended. First things first: 6 days after I turned 40, and four weeks before his due date, Liam Alexander Gruden made his appearance. I will say that having a newborn at 40 is just a tad more physically difficult than it was at 35, or maybe it’s because I have to chase my five year old in between naps. A week after he was born, Liam ended up back in hospital – in the NICU – for four days due to a really dangerous case of jaundice. That was not fun.
And then two weeks after that, my father had what at first we thought was a brain aneurysm, but appears to have been a head injury resulting in bleeding in the brain instead. He likely slipped on the ice.
He’s making a good recovery, having moved to a rehab hospital. But it has been quite a ride, dragging the diaper bag and the baby to meetings with social workers and brushing up on Acquired Brain Injury therapy. (The name of which amuses me to no end: What kind of a brain injury do you not acquire?)
I’ve written articles on caregiving and interviewed caregiving experts, but just as reading parenting books doesn’t prepare you for the reality and emotional scope of parenting, so research doesn’t prepare you for the day a parent really needs you to show up and be the grown up, for them. I am very lucky in that it looks like this time it will have been temporary. But I feel older somehow.
Unless it’s the sleep deprivation!
So that’s where I’ve been and I’ll be blogging more regularly from now on. I have an exciting project to share with you all, and I have a bunch of links to share.
Meanwhile, tell me when you first realized you were the real grown up — or among the real grownups — in your family!
I now feel like your legitimate web editor, because today is my 40th birthday! Apparently the sleep difficulties start early because I was up at 4 a.m. – time to fill out the More.ca sleep survey I guess.
I don’t feel any midlife angst about it at all, at least not yet. I really enjoyed my 30s a lot, but I don’t have a sense of a decade or an era ending as I did when I turned 40.
Mostly, I just want some cake.
One of the key differences, of course, is working here at More.ca. I see so many of you doing and experiencing so many interesting and exciting things! Who wouldn’t want to be 40? If anything I think I feel a sense of possibility.
A lot of my inspiration is coming from our Firsts after 40 contest, presented by RBC. Click on over to check out the really neat dreams and activities women our age are bringing to life. And do not forget to enter! We are seriously giving out cash!
I didn’t get as many things done in my year of turning 40 as I wanted to, due in large part to a complication-laden pregnancy. (My first “first after 40″ may well be a c-section.) I will be on mat leave beginning at the end of this month (stay tuned to hear about the editor who will be replacing me) but I will be continuing to blog here regularly.
I’m not quite delusional enough to think that I’ll get through a ton more of your suggestions for what to try as I turn 40 (my favourite though is the hot air balloon) due to having a newborn in tow. But I’m still going to tackle some more – and be ready to turn 41 with glee, and without the big belly!
Just when I resolve to quit talking about pregnancy…I have a More moment.
I was at the obstetrician’s in the waiting room and some of the women got chatting and sharing vitals – you know, due date, sex of baby (if known), other kids and…age. I said I’m 39. To which I got the response: “Oh, so you’re going to be a granny mama!”
Here’s my official writerly, editorial reaction: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’d've liked to go on a rant about how common it is these days to have kids in your late 30s — these days; a phrase that probably only those of us about to enter our golden years use. Many women wait because they are building careers or waiting for the right relationship or just plain waiting. And so what? Isn’t that what choice is all about? Trust me, having met so many women who are heading off to climb mountains or go motorcycling around, I’m not exactly worried about having young kids in my 40s.
As someone who’s faced reproductive challenges, I know that it’s a luxury to even start to discuss the pros and cons of having kids earlier or later in life. There are advantages and disadvantages to every stage of life and every configuration of family. I’m glad to be having kids when I’m stable and have a strong sense of myself – but I also admit that I occasionally have twinges of envy of people not that much older than I am who are about to empty their nest and get cracking on goals that don’t involve avoiding humiliation at snack day. I do worry a little bit about how my kids will handle issues around my husband and I aging when they are still young adults – but that is one reason we’re saving money, working on our health, and basically trying to make sure we think things through; something that comes with maturity.
All that said, what gives a younger woman the right to call me that anyway? Seriously, back off.
I might have uncharitably commented on teen pregnancy (although to be fair, the woman who dropped the remark was in her early 20s.) Fortunately we were interrupted by the cattle call for the next round of women getting weighed, and I let it go. But now I want to know: Have you come across this attitude? What would a good snappy comeback be?
AMA: Perhaps you thought this acronym stood for American Medical Association, but it’s currently stamped all over various files of mine and in this form stands for Advanced Maternal Age.
I’m aware, because shortly after losing all that weight, I discovered that I am happily, surprisingly, pregnant. And have been on bedrest for the last couple of weeks. More on that in a minute.
So although I’ve had two babies, I’ll be having my first third child after I turn 40. And I’m finding that it really is a different experience than it was at 35. I can’t believe how many people (okay, 4, but doesn’t that seem like a lot?) feel comfortable asking me if I’ll be having amniocentesis to test for Down Syndrome. (No comment at this time.) And a few more have asked me if I had help (only if you count my husband!)
I would be lying if I said my age isn’t a factor for me too. I kind of had thought that we were beyond the diaper phase forever and had been putting those funds into RRSPs. Although I’m thrilled to be able to take maternity leave, it was so not in my career plan at this time. And as soon as I’m through the newborn stage I’ll be hiring a personal trainer just so I can be in shape to chase my teen down the street when I’m 55.
But honestly – in 2010, is it really a big deal to be (almost) 40 and pregnant, generally? I don’t think so.
Here’s what I’ve learned through this whole experience so far:
Upon being ordered to bed, my first thought was “I’m too old for this,” although what I meant was, I’m too busy for this. My second was that it’s my fault for being of – yes – advanced maternal age. Guilt at any age.
I am totally a control freak about certain things – and I need to ease up, because I bet I have other life goals I could be reaching rather than adhering to my fridge clean-out schedule.
My family has been great at jumping in once I had to take to my bed – and so have my girlfriends. Who else is going to volunteer to bring you 3 seasons of Big Love and clean your house?
As trite of a midlife realization as this is, health really is a precious thing.
Decorate your bedroom before illness strikes, or you will be staring at it wishing there was a reality show for this where people would just come in and fix it.
When you’ve hit a road bump – a nice one, like a new child that nonetheless turns your life upside down – or a rough one, like bedrest or other challenges, what’s gotten you through it? What have you learned?