Having children later in life
I had children in my late 30s and sometimes I regret not having done it sooner-
By Gabriella Munoz
When I was in my early twenties I desperately wanted to become a mother. But life has a strange way of sorting things out, and I met the man who would become the father of my two children when I was 26. We married a few months before I turned 30. I knew he wanted kids; he
knew I wanted children, but we didn’t sit down to discuss it. We just went with the flow and let life happen.
My biological clock muted for the next five years. I couldn’t picture myself as a mum. We were happy and busy. I had a job I liked and so did he. We travelled whenever and wherever we pleased. Dining out and going to the movies were weekly little pleasures. We were also saving money for a house. But, lo and behold, at 34 a tsunami of hormones flooded my body; my uterus craved for a child and so our fertility journey began.
It took many visits to the doctor, a year of acupuncture sessions, yoga for fertility, Chinese herbs, and a heartbreaking decision to finally conceive a child.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median age of all mothers for registered births in 2016 was 31.2 years. I was 37.5, 6 years over the median age, when my son was born. I turned 39 three months after my daughter joined our family.
If I were younger, I would have one more child, but time isn’t reversible. I sometimes regret this, as I would love to have a family of four.
A few days ago an article celebrated the beauty of 40. The children are older. You supposedly know who you are. You have learnt a few things along the way. You still have a couple of decades to reinvent yourself before retiring.
I, on the other hand, am 40 and just beginning my motherhood journey, which is equally joyful and challenging.
I’ll be almost 50 by the time my children reach their first decade of life; almost 60 when they are in their 20s and become adults. If I take good care of my body and make sure that my psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition, stays in remision, I might live to be 80 and see my children in their 40s too.
I fear that I’ll miss sharing more grown up adventures with them, like travelling the world, because of my age. I fear I’ll miss their wedding and them becoming parents. I dread the idea of not knowing my grandchildren, of not being there for my daughter if she chooses to become a mother and not being able to take care of her and make sure she has at least a shower and a hot meal every day for the first year of her child’s life.
There were advantages to having child
ren in my late 30s, though, we were able to buy a house and I can afford the luxury of working from home—something I couldn’t have done before because I didn’t have the experience or the contacts to do so. But when I see mums in their 20s or early 30s I feel a pang of envy because I know they will probably be around their kids for longer.
Sometimes my body just aches too much. It takes me about 10 minutes to stand up and get out of bed in the mornings because a bout of psoriatic arthritis is slowly deforming my toes and it takes time to stretch them and put them comfortably on the floor. Sometimes, when I’m playing with my little bundles of energy, I need to sit down and breathe because I can’t keep up. In winter, when my arthritis flares up, it hurts to pick them up.
They usually don’t know that I’m in pain, or that I cry when I see that my body has started to fail. They just see mummy running around or crawling on all fours to play with them—they are 2 and 1 and I can get away with this for a bit longer. But sooner rather than later they will notice that I’m not as young as other mummies, and I I often wonder what they will think about this.
I wish I had had my children in my early 30s, when I had more energy. I wish I could have more years to play with them and see them grow and become grownups.
There is a good reason behind my bluntly realistic worldview. My father passed away when I was 18 and not a day goes by without me thinking about him. I don’t want my children to go through the same. I want to be with them for as long as I can, but if for any reason this is not possible, I will make sure they have a handful of memorable days with me that they can cherish it for eternity.