Scientific breakthroughs are making motherhood possible for mothers over 35. One mother shares with PLN the unique challenges that parenthood presents to older first-time mothers.
Age and time are never kind. As a first-time mom in her early 40s, I realized this very quickly after the birth of our son. Getting used to a different lifestyle isn’t easy when you’re ‘set in your ways.’
Having a child at an older age is an adjustment to your way of doing things, planning and accepting new and unexpected situations. There are a few realities that first-time parents, and especially moms, are faced with in the first few years of parenthood are just that little bit harder when you are an older mom.
Your body doesn’t magically spring into shape
Unless you have a personal chef and trainer on standby to help get you back on track with your weight and body, you’ll carry around excess weight and flab.
It takes a bit more willpower to get fit when you’re lacking sleep, energy and drive to get on a treadmill or even take a walk. Achy bones and muscles are another deterrent. If you’re breastfeeding, it will help burn that stubborn fat, but you can expect the weight to creep back on after you stop.
As for your stretch marks and flabbier skin, it’s going to stick around a whole lot longer, if not forever. While younger moms also deal with stretch marks, skin tends to lose elasticity with age.
If you’ve got a bit more wobble post-baby, you may have to learn to love it.
Sleep is a precious thing
At first, sleep disappears with the crazy schedule of two to three-hour feedings. Then you settle into months where the baby has you waking up at two am with night terrors, a wet diaper or hunger.
Toddler-hood doesn’t bring with it better sleep. First, you have to get them to sleep, and then they may decide that they don’t want to sleep in their own bed.
They take over your bed, and you end up becoming a side-sleeper whether you like it or not.
This wreaks havoc on your back, making the usual aches and pains related to age more pronounced.
If you have a high-stress job that requires you to be on the ball all the time, good luck! How can you make big decisions or deal with the C-Suite if you’ve got bloodshot eyes and a tendency to doze off at the drop of a hat? Add to this an achy body from lifting your child up and down numerous times and you’re one super tired parent.
There’s only so much that coffee can do to help.
The good news is that eventually, you will get more than three hours of sleep without interruptions. It’s just a question of surviving until then.
Your body aches… everywhere
Arguably, the best gift to give a new older mom or dad is a few sessions with a massage therapist. When you have to hold and soothe a 15lbs-plus baby to sleep several times a night, your back and neck muscles get a workout. The next day you’re feeling the pain.
As your child enters toddler-hood, they have a tendency to squirm like a slippery fish when they’re trying to get out of your grasp. This usually accompanied by a temper tantrum.
It ends up being a workout for you as you try to prevent them from falling on their head.
And with older age, there comes the pain of arthritis. While my joints aren’t doing too badly yet, there are times when I pick up my toddler and my body protests.
The best solution is to learn a few yoga stretches that help to release tense muscles in your shoulders, upper back, and neck areas. This helps prevent backaches and “drooping mom shoulders.” I also found strengthened my core muscles helped with the wrestling an alligator moments with my toddler.
A thin patience
There’s a scene in an episode of Family Guy where baby Stewie is trying to get his mom’s attention by repeating “Mom” in different forms repeatedly. She lays semi-comatose on a bed, most likely super tired and not wanting to deal with his demands. I can relate to her at this moment.
We don’t see her snap, but we see the incessant attention-seeking from Stewie. This is a reality that all parents deal with – kids love it when we are focused on them!
However, the reality is, that when you’re an older parent used to doing things in an orderly fashion, the chaos can get to you more quickly. Add in the lack of sleep and the achy pains, and patience is really at a minimum.
The “no” to meals that you’ve prepared with the hopes of your child eating. The screaming when they don’t want to get into their car seat when you’re already late for an appointment. The resistance to going to sleep at bedtime. All of these can make a parent snap.
Take a deep breath. The bad times are outweighed by the good times. These moments will pass.
Luckily, gray hair is “in”
Remember the time you went to a salon and had your hair coloured and cut? I can’t. You don’t have the time. Being an older mom means the gray hair comes in quicker. You learn to do the quick at-home DIY hair colour. Split ends are your best friends and you learn to embrace the gray hair.
Luckily gray hair has been an ‘in’ colour trend over the past little while. However, mine is the real thing compared to those who colour it that way.
Even though I may occasionally look like my son’s grandmother with my gray strands, he loves me anyway. It makes it all worthwhile.
It all goes by so quickly
As any parent will say, the period of a newborn baby to a young child will go by very quickly. Before you know it, they are talking, running around and completely independent. So while there are some things that are uncomfortable and downright painful about being an older parent for the first time, enjoy every moment.
It’s a blessing to have a child in one’s life and to be a parent. If you can let go of the hard realities, you’ll enjoy parenthood so much more.
Are you an older first-time mom? Let us know your experience in the comments.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.