Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, Mama's 40

  • I am currently experiencing a wicked bout of sciatica
  • I have been dealing with raging acid reflux for the past several months
  • I am, at present, unable to remove myself from any piece of furniture without making a series of involuntary groaning sounds
  • I have permanently eschewed the varied and tasty meals I used to enjoy in favor of bland and texture-free foodstuffs.

Did you guess the world's oldest woman?  Hint: Very close! 

Who feels older?

Instead the correct answer is - - - ME! (A forty plus woman expecting her third baby in four years).

At my age, in strict biological terms, instead of creating new life I should really be engaging in more age-appropriate activities, like maybe whittling, leaf peeping, and/or sitting incredibly still at all times and preparing on a deep subconscious level for the sweet release of death. 

Instead I am running around daily after two toddlers while seven-months-pregnant, and it is providing to be epically difficult.

According to one random study I took fifty-seven seconds to Google, a woman's fertility appears to peak around the age of twenty-two. Which would suggest that one's late teens and early twenties are, in fact, the ideal time for childbirth.


Because when I was twenty-two I was living part-time in a van, traveling to divey comedy clubs around the country, and working part-time as a bicycle messenger. In addition, my major love interest of the era turned out to be supporting himself at least partially through the sale of home-grown marijuana.

So, for me, the decades that represented my prime biological years for child-bearing occurred during a period when actual child-rearing would have likely proven fairly disastrous. 

My best friend had her first child at nineteen and now has a two-year-old at forty. She summed up the difference thusly,

"At nineteen, having the baby was a piece of cake. At forty, raising a child is easier."

And to be sure, she did an amazing job with all of her kids. I'm not advocating any "right age" for starting a family. (Though I'll admit believing that having kids young -- when one has the energy to pull it off without getting into bed each night feeling as if you've been attacked by a gang of baseball bat-wielding maniacs -- seems like a really good idea if that is how it happens to work out for you.)

My sister-in-law, who is in her early twenties, recently had a beautiful baby girl. And let me tell you, nothing will make you re-evaluate your life choices faster than standing next to a young woman four weeks post-partum who whips off a swim coverup to reveal a swimsuit calendar-ready body clad only in a hot pink string bikini.

actual sister-in-law not depicted, but take my word, close enough

It has a way of making young motherhood appealing on a whole new level.

But alas, it would appear that my own bikini-sporting days are now firmly in the rear view mirror. As a "late-in-life mom" I am instead relegated to bathing dresses long enough to cover my vein-marred legs and firm enough to subdue my now-permanent love handles.

And there are countless other downsides to my advanced maternal age. There's the general lack of energy; there's the inability to "bounce back" from childbirth in the way I might have as a younger woman; and, of course, there is the general soul-crushingness of having all of my medical paperwork stamped with the phrase, GERIATRIC PREGNANCY.

But, in spite of all of this, I'm still happy to be an older Mama.

I loved being single and carefree in my twenties and early thirties. I spent enough late nights out on the town that the idea of night after night on the couch watching reality TV or snuggling with my husband sounds heavenly instead of limiting. I traveled all around the country without a care beyond meeting my own basic needs and had a great time doing it. And while all that may mean that I'm going to be closing in on 60 when my last child graduates from high school, I wouldn't do it any differently.

Besides, without those years of life experience, how could I pass on valuable life wisdom to my own boys? For example:

Kids! No matter how cold you get when living in a van in your late twenties DO NOT bring the space heater inside the vehicle! It doesn't turn out that well. 

Trust me. Now go get Mommy some Advil, my sciatica is killing me!