This Is 39
April 16, 2013
© Sarah Preston Gorenstein
We’ve been talking about Mommy’s age a lot lately, because Monday was my—try not to choke on your coffee—39th birthday. Yep, THIRTY-FREAKING-NINE. It’s gross. I’m old. I’m an old pregnant mom. Anyone see the movie “This Is 40”? It was written for people like me. And it’s hilariously dead on. Judd Apatow’s a genius. I watched it on my way to Scottsdale, with Preston sitting next to me, and I laughed so hard I was crying—uncontrollable, ugly laughter—and praying that neither Preston nor anyone else on the plane could see what I was watching on my iPad. (I had my headphones on, and thankfully he couldn’t see anything; it’s definitely NOT kid-appropriate.)
Anyway, I loved the movie on so many levels, but one scene in particular that stood out was when Debbie (Leslie Mann) was walking her 8-year-old daughter in to school, and she passes another mom, clearly of advanced maternal age, pregnant, with long gray hair. Debbie yells to her, “Any day now, huh?” And she says, “Not really, I’ve got three months still.”
That’s me. I’m the gray-haired woman. Or at least that’s how I feel most days—except that my hair isn’t gray yet. Old and pregnant, looking like I’m about to pop for months now. Sometimes feeling like I don’t belong in the maternity ward at this point in my life. But age is just a number, right?
The reality of being of advanced maternal age is that it feels like a lot more than just a number when it comes to being pregnant. Statistics prove that to be true as well—we all know getting pregnant and staying pregnant is a lot harder over the age of 35. I haven’t been shy about my own struggles—my path to pregnancy wasn’t an easy one, and the pregnancy itself hasn’t been a picnic either.
Some people say it has nothing to do with my age, though. Well, I beg to differ. In no particular order, I’ve experienced these lovely symptoms: hyperemesis gravidarum the first four months of this pregnancy had me totally bed-ridden for weeks; my ankles are in a constant state of swollen; so are my thighs; I’ve out-gained myself by 15 pounds already; my old maternity jeans lasted through one trimester this time; I don’t sleep; all I do is eat to keep the nausea at bay; I’m constantly out of breath; I can’t tie my own shoes without losing my breath; shaving my legs is a herculean effort; my rings don’t fit; my boots leave indentations on my swollen calves; even my watch is tight; I started waddling much earlier on in this pregnancy; could you feel your hips widening too?; my boobs are a lot bigger this time (I don’t really mind that); but so is my butt (I mind); I’m short on patience; have less of a tolerance for almost everything, especially my husband’s potpourri of smells; there isn’t enough water in the world to quench my thirst throughout the day; not enough ice cream either; I notice my stomach hangs lower than it did last time, not because I’m carrying lower with a girl, but because (I’m convinced) my ab muscles are looser and can’t hold it up!
And don't even get me started on the peeing. I seem to have zero kegel control lately.
But the most alarming symptom: I have experienced some very real, very scary memory loss. Like mid-conversation memory loss. Imagine leading meetings at work, and losing your words mid-sentence…it’s embarrassing! It happens to me regularly.
But on the plus side? No matter how crappy I’ve felt during this pregnancy, I am cherishing every minute of it. Despite the above, I love being pregnant (I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense). Though it’s definitely been harder on my 39-year-old body, there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want it to be over. Maybe because I know that at my age, another pregnancy isn’t likely to happen. This will probably be my last, and that saddens me. Though it’s hard, it’s equally wonderful and amazing to go through all these crazy things, and feel a little life growing inside of me. No matter what age I am.
At 39, I don’t take a single second of my life for granted, especially my life right now. If this is 39, bring on 40!
What have been the biggest challenges for you having babies when you’re of advanced maternal age? Think age matters? Do you think women over 35 have a different appreciation for their fertility? Sound off!