Women who approach their 40s know they are to expect peri-menopause, mid-life crisis, and memory problems, among others. Many don't expect to become pregnant or experience motherhood for the first time. But whether by choice or circumstance, there are women who find themselves dealing with diaper changes and breastfeeding issues at this stage in their lives.
Smart Parenting talks to three moms: Arlyn Corpuz, 43, mom to a six-month-old baby; Maita Manzon-Cabrera, 49, mom to a 10-year-old boy; and Mira Martin-Castro, 43, mom of three and currently pregnant with her fourth child. How similar or different are their concerns from those of moms in their 20s or 30s? Are there any perks they enjoy because they are relatively older than other moms? What could be keeping them up at night?
Yes, pregnancy in your 40s can be more delicate.
Maita was 35 years old when her first pregnancy happened. Unfortunately, it ended in a miscarriage, so when she got pregnant again at 37 years old, extra precautions had to be taken given her age and previous history. “My second pregnancy was considered delicate. I had spotting in the early part of the pregnancy and I was asked to have total bed rest for the first trimester,” Maita recalls. Having a difficult pregnancy meant that her doctor had to watch her blood pressure closely. “I had to watch my diet and had to take folic acid and other vitamins to ensure my baby is healthy,” Maita adds.
One aspect that Maita found energy-draining was the breastfeeding process. Without enough supply for her baby, John Farber, she had to supplement with milk-substitutes. “The sleepless nights were draining my energy, too. At 40 years old, the energy and stamina level to care for your child is not the same as when you are in your 20s,” she adds.
The generation gap can be a disadvantage as well, Mira says. The key, she says, is to make sure that it will not affect your relationship with your child. “I'm thankful that I now have access to sites and Facebook pages such as SmartParenting.com.ph. [I get] insights and tips on parenting that serve as a guide for parents like me,” Mira says.
“I may not be able to relate to the current technology, issues, and situations that my son will be facing. Thank God for husbands in these cases. I can hand over these to his ‘department,’” adds Maita.
The fear of mortality is also very real.
Speaking of age, Arlyn imagines a scenario where her son decides to marry at age 40, just like she did. “What then? I would be in my 80s! It saddens me to think that I might not live long enough to see my grandchildren,” she shares.
Maita shares the same fear: not being able to help her son through college and marriage, and missing the opportunity to meet her grandchildren.
How do the moms deal with this reality? They all try them best stay fit and healthy. While Arlyn plans to go back to doing Pilates soon, Maita does physical training to lower her cholesterol, keep her blood pressure normal, and manage her peri-menopausal symptoms. She works out while her son is in fencing practice every day. She is also on a specific doctor-prescribed diet, which eliminates pork, beef, and gluten. “I keep a diet with brown rice, fish, and vegetables. We are into juicing. For me, it is to control my cholesterol and other perimenopausal symptoms,” she adds.
There is also prayer. “[I ask for] a long and productive life so I can be there for Titus. I hope to be in as many of his milestones as I possibly can. I must admit that had I been a mom at a younger age, I don't think mortality would be much of concern for me,” Arlyn adds.
But the experience isn't so different from young moms.
Arlyn, a marketing professional, waited for the right guy and married late. Hence, she was over 40 when she gave birth to her son Titus. She believes her experiences compared to younger moms are the same. “The anxieties of a young mom are the same as the anxieties of a mom in her 40s. Motherhood is a great equalizer. It does not matter what your [age or] status in life is -- all moms would go through the breastfeeding or bottle-feeding choices, the anxiety of seeing your child wail over vaccine shots, and the [seemingly endless] singing and dancing to put the baby to sleep,” Arlyn shares.
Maita echoes this and realizes she has a lot of things in common with younger moms: a sprained wrist from carrying the baby, sleep deprivation, and difficulty going back to her pre-baby body.
In fact, an advantage is you're more emotionally stable and ready to nurture.
Mira, a public school teacher based in Pangasinan, is excited to have a baby again after eight years. “I believe I have reached the peak of my career, so I do not need to spend too much time in activities needed for promotion. Since I am accomplished in my job, I can afford to spend more time with my family. This means that I can now enjoy and focus more on being a mom,” she shares.
“At 40, you know that you have enjoyed much of your singleness, that you are emotionally ready for a baby,” echoes Maita, a certified public accountant and educator. While she says that no one is really ready for childbirth or childcare, Maita considers it an extraordinary gift to be “more emotionally and mentally stable and ready to nurture another life [at the age of 40].”
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Financial readiness is also an advantage at this age. “[At this stage,] finances are sufficient to get caregivers to help in the childcare and rearing process,” Maita adds.
In dealing with postpartum depression, Maita found it easy to recognize -- and address -- her condition. “I was able to identify that I was going through it, so I enrolled in a Master's degree in distance education at UP Open University. This enabled me to focus my mind and attention on different readings, studies, homework, and projects, rather than on [my condition],” Maita says.
Mira has had ample experience raising her three other boys, Jonwille Mark, 20, Jeros Marx, 14, and John Marcus, eight. “With the experience that I have, I think I will be a better mom to my baby and will have more confidence in handling him or her. And I will have more support because my kids can help me take care of the baby,” Mira relates.
Overcome your fears by planning better for the future.
Along with the fear of not living long enough to see them grow up comes the resolve to plan for the future. Maita admits that she and her husband are preparing for it. “We have made investments that are all going to be for our child,” Maita shares. Among their plans include preparing a will and choosing a guardian. Maita underscores the importance of doing all the preparations with one’s spouse.
You know what they say about making lemonade out of the lemons life throws at you? Being a mom in your 40s is a good time to put it to practice. Maita often gets this common question: “Is he your only grandchild?” She holds back her annoyance and chooses to be motivated by it instead. “It inspires me to make sure that I keep physically fit so as not to look like [my son's] grandmother,” Maita adds.
Take control but don't be afraid to ask for help.
From Arlyn, who was over 40 when she became a mom: “Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't push yourself to the point of breaking. Be happy, so your baby is happy, too. Stay beautiful and healthy!”
From Mira, who is fearlessly taking on motherhood for the fourth time in eight years: “I believe every mom’s fear is being separated from her child, not only physically, but also emotionally. So make your children feel that you are not only their mother, but their best friend as well.”
From Maita, who suffered a miscarriage and a delicate pregnancy: “Age does not matter. It should not dictate your well-being, health, and activities. Take control of your situation. Do not be afraid to learn new things. Be a lifelong learner—it is good for your mental health as well.”