Becoming a Mom in Your 30's
The Right Woman for the Job
Haven't we all heard the 30's are the new 20's? Not true if you chose motherhood beginning in your 30's. Chances are you feel your age when you're only getting 4 hours of sleep. Personally, being a first time mom at 32, and looking forward to it again at 36, only reminds me of phrases such as "I'm too old for this" and "I wish my body was 20 again".
The trend is leaning toward many women choosing to wait until at least their 30's to become a mother. Most women are enjoying better health in their 30's than generations before them, but does that mean women should wait? There are other reasons, besides physical, that women may have a tough time starting a family at 30+.
Career: Women are more apt to wait on motherhood because, without children, they level the playing field among men and women at work. The reality is workplaces do not treat mothers equally so without children, we are focused on the job only- just like a man. This mentality really hasn't resolved much about easing the strain women are burdened with by being a mother and employee.
There is no such thing as having a baby and returning to work weeks later as if nothing happened. Majority workplaces only support this mentality; business as usual and no disruptions- except for a handful of family friendly workplaces. In addition, a first time mom has no idea how she will feel about leaving her baby in the care of someone else while she resumes a "normal" work life. Speaking from experience, a photo on the computer or wall at work is not the same. Planning everything isn't the fix it might seem to be.
It's as if women who wait until their 30's are stating the obvious, " I have to live my life first; attain a degree, get a career, travel, explore independence, get settled, and then I can have a kid". If we were able to "do it all", then why aren't we? Fact is, we're not able so we have to segment our life and that's why 30's are becoming family time. This statement alone suggests that women who are beginning families at an older age, will have to give up more or learn to balance more once the baby comes.
What people don't tell you is by the time you're 30, you probably haven't done all those items listed. Or maybe you have, and somehow you believe you can "have it all" and keep the same lifestyle post-baby. It's a completely different life after baby, and frankly I wouldn't have waited as long.
Older, Maybe Not Wiser
Maturity: I think the more life a woman has lived before a baby, the bigger the shock after; it's a difficult adjustment period. Having a baby in my thirties forced me to expect less of myself at a time in my life when I was accustomed to expecting more because of everything I had already accomplished.
Many experts argue that having a baby later in life is best because women are more in tune with themselves and have higher self-esteem. I bet those experts are men. Experts that carelessly make these claims place added pressure on older women for having more "control" and "handling" the situation better than a younger mother. Actually, younger women are more flexible with circumstances.
Older women are more determined to handle or control a situation themselves rather than asking for assistance. Admitting we need help? But we've done everything else on our own.
Most women in their thirties are practical and know themselves and their limitations, but that established inner confidence goes right out the window when you have such a new and different life change. If you were anything like me, I felt silly going to baby groups with other moms who were 10+ years younger than me. I compared it to being a college student in a 3rd grade class- it felt embarrassing at times. Babies should be common sense, but no matter what age you are, it isn't.
I guess what we all learn every decade or so in life, is just when we think we have it all figured out, the rules change. Motherhood is no different.
Age Matters More Than Health
Age: Just a number, right? You may be the healthiest woman in her thirties to ever exist, but you are still not 20. Yes, age matters if not for just one single reason; SLEEP DEPRIVATION.
I can confidently state age does make a difference, but health not necessarily. Sure, it's great to be healthy, but you won't be very healthy initially after having the baby. You may eat perfectly, rememberto brush your teeth, floss, and take your vitamins, and get regular time-outs/meditation, but you will not be sleeping regularly. If you're not sleeping regularly, it sets you up for a tirade of health disasters. When you're in your thirties, you do not bounce back from an all-nighter as easily as you did 10 years ago. Sorry, that's the facts.
I was a healthy woman pre-baby, but now I am no stranger to remembering to brush my toddler's teeth, but forgetting to brush mine or enjoying fine fast-food dining at least weekly, and exercise is hit or miss as well as sleep. All those who have a small child and are in perfect health, really aren't because they're so stressed out from trying to maintain a perfectly healthy lifestyle.
Fact is; The body isn't the same when you're 30+. Women can expect to be considered high risk pregnancies after 35, increased risk for birth defects, higher chances of c-section births, and the body doesn't bounce back as quickly after having the baby. Secondary infertility is at a high rate in your 30's, especially if you plan on having more than one child in your 30's.
Bottom line is there isn't a perfect age for starting a family. I found it personally difficult later in life because I remember the many years of personal freedom before baby . It is just as hard for me at my age to find balance; time for myself or to enjoy my old hobbies, then it would be if I was 20. People told me to wait, I did, and I got a college education and a career, only to be staying at home with my 1 1/2 year old now. Funny thing is, I did everything right to set my life up for starting a family only for a baby to unravel all my carefully laid plans. I admit, though, wouldn't have it any other way.
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