40 and pregnant: My unconventional path to motherhood

Nashua resident Stacy Milbouer reflects on "geriatric pregnancy"

By Stacy Milbouer

May 9, 2024

On Mother’s Day, we remember our mothers but as mothers, we also reflect on our own mommy hood. For me that began at the age of 40, when I gave birth to my first and only child.

From the minute of conception, no one lets you forget your pregnancy isn’t “typical.” Mine was considered a geriatric pregnancy. Geriatric—not exactly the adjective I was hoping for. I was hoping more for “glowing” or “radiant.” That term is now out of fashion—replaced with “advanced maternal age,” which doesn’t seem much better to me. At my first OB-GYN appointment, the doc looked at me and said, “Remember this word—this one word. EPIDURAL.” He thought the stress of labor pains might be too arduous for one such as me. I took it to heart and started saying “epidural” to anyone who would listen during my entire pregnancy.

Here’s a cool factoid: When you’re older and pregnant, and your baby bump rises like a levitating, undulating beachball from the voluminous tent of a maternity jumpsuit, no one is brave enough to even hint at the possibility that you might be gestating an entire human being. I’d run into neighbors I hadn’t seen in a while. They’d stare at my belly and say, “Hi, Stacy. Long time, no see. You’re looking—um—healthy.”

Even though I was “geriatric” and had morning-noon-and-night sickness for a full nine months, there never were the kinds of pregnancy complications associated with older moms. After 20 hours of back labor, I did have that epidural, a cesarean section, and a baby boy. All was good.

My husband, seven years my senior, started taking the baby for walks when he was two weeks old. And at one point, I worked up the nerve to take him to the mall all by myself, strolling along in maternal bliss. As people do, they peeked into the carriage to see the precious package. I was beaming. Looking back at pictures of my son at that age, he looked not unlike Marvin the Martian, but I only saw the Gerber Baby. “You must be so proud,” said one person who stopped to ooh and ahh. I set my mouth in my best maternal smile. “I am,” I said. And then the sweet passerby turned to walk away but added, “There is nothing like being a grandmother, is there?”

The grandmother thing was a motif throughout my son’s childhood. I remember telling another mom at a playgroup that I had my baby at age 40. “Wow. That’s cool,” she said. “My nana is 40.” I immediately went to my salon and had my stylist dye all the gray away.

As my son grew up, I thought a lot about the younger moms I’d meet up with at parent-teacher organization meetings, on the soccer field, and at school play rehearsals and the moms in their 30s who had several children and looked like they had the mommy thing down to a science. I could see the advantages. They probably had more energy for the hours sitting in bleachers at the T-ball games and weren’t as worried about the damage the sun was doing to their middle-aged skin. They didn’t have to deal with hot flashes during kindergarten graduation and didn’t do the scary math that shows you’d be eligible for social security at just about the time it came to pay off their children’s college tuition.

But one day at the supermarket checkout I overheard a mom talking about how hard it was to hold down two jobs and still spend time with her baby. She was young and beautiful but looked tired and worried. I realized then that having a baby at any age had its advantages and disadvantages—that we’re all tired and worried, ecstatic and exhausted. I didn’t always have the energy for a game of hide and seek and I didn’t have living parents who could watch my son from time to time. But I already had an established career that allowed me the luxury of paid time off and financial security. I already traveled and socialized a lot and was more than happy to stay home at night and on weekends with my family, not feeling I was missing out on anything. And I had the experience and perspective that 40 years on Earth can provide. I stopped dying my hair that day and never looked back. Bring on the gray. Bring on the parent-teacher association. Bring on menopause and Santa Claus. I was up for all of it. We’re moms. We’re always up for all of it.

 

Author

  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.

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