Both my pregnancies were considered “geriatric” because I was over 35. Doctors, books and articles are rife with scary statistics and risks of pregnancies later in life. And yet, very often older women have perfectly fine pregnancies and births. Every woman is unique, at any age. And that´s why I share my story.
My first delivery at 37 wasn´t too bad. I broke water at 6 am at home and I was holding my baby in my arms at 10 am. Not too shabby for a “geriatric mother.” I recall a little glitch with the epidural, which made my blood pressure plummet, but that´s because I have low blood pressure to begin with, not because I was over 35.
I had my second baby a couple of months shy of 41. She was born 45 minutes after I walked into the clinic. I tell this story to all women who share with me their fears of having a baby when they’re older. Every pregnancy and every delivery, at any age, is different.
I spent the morning before I had my baby doing my daily exercises to a workout DVD for pregnant women! I had sent my husband and my three-year-old off to lunch with friends. It was around my due date, so I knew the baby could come anytime now.
I didn’t break water but, all of a sudden, I felt contractions that very quickly escalated to the point that I knew it was time. I called my husband and while he and our daughter drove over, I took a nice warm shower. I even washed my hair.
By the time they got home, I was sitting on the couch with my hospital bag by my side, all ready to go. As soon as we had a friend ready to babysit my eldest, we drove to the clinic on a hot Saturday afternoon on June 12.
Most of the hospital staff were on their summer vacation (it was Sevilla Spain), and my doctor was away at her beach house. I will never forget the wave of relief when I saw the kind and happy face of the midwife who’d delivered my firstborn! She helped me into my gown and prepped me for the epidural.
“Relax, it´ll be awhile,” she said.
Not five minutes later, I felt like I really, really needed to poop. Being my second time around, I knew that meant the baby was ready to pop out!
“Go get the midwife!” I asked my husband.
“But she said …” he tried to argue.
“THE BABY IS HERE!” I assured him, hugging my belly as it hardened.
When he returned with the midwife, her face told me she thought I was overreacting.
I wish I could have taken a picture of her expression when she looked between my legs!
“Yep! Time to push!” she said.
And so I pushed, pretty effectively I guess, since the epidural didn’t have time to really kick in!
It was short and quick and there was no episiotomy.
Exactly 45 minutes after I had checked into the clinic, my beautiful red-head was in my arms. My only regret on hindsight is that I could have skipped anesthesia altogether had I known it was going to be that fast! My legs went numb after baby came out! But then again, I didn’t feel the stitches as they sewed up a minor tear I had during childbirth.
I remember feeling really relaxed in the recovery room. I didn’t feel the least bit tired, but I tried to chill anyway. I knew from experience how exhausting it is to care for a newborn. Plus now I would have older sister to contend with as well.
I also remember thinking of a male doctor who´d told me a year earlier that I was too old at 40 to consider having a second baby, and how he would not want to be my OBGyn since it was a geriatric pregnancy. How I wished he’d been there for the delivery, so I could dish out an insult or two as I pushed!
I know not all deliveries are so speedy and uneventful. But please don´t believe that all older women have horrible pregnancies and labors. It´s simply not true. I am the perfect example of that.
I will continue to tell my story to as many women who need the inspiration and reassurance to go ahead and get pregnant after 35!