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42 Yr-Old First Time Mommy (YIKES)
I’m a first time mom at 42. Yes, 42. Crazy, right? I never thought I’d have my first child “this late.” We’re hoping to have another, but I’m told my maternal age is ancient – years beyond advanced, so who knows?
It’s probably no surprise that I thought I’d have kids by my mid-30s. It seemed reasonable when planning out my life at the age of 21. Marriage before 30 and 2.5 kids by 34 (with the .5 being a dog). So yes, a husband, two kids, and a dog before 34 was the plan.
And then God laughed. You know what they say, if you want to make Him laugh, just share your plans. God must have had a full on belly laugh at mine.
The Best Laid Plans . . .
You see, I did not PLAN to be maternally ancient with an infant at 42, but nothing went as devised. I didn’t meet my husband, Mike, until I was 36, married him at 37, and then spent years and tears trying to get pregnant- a journey involving multiple doctors, acupuncture, thermometers, ovulation tests, and a miscarriage.
Though all of this was unexpected, I must admit that my “original plan” wasn’t half as good as the life that God has given me. And this life includes keeping up with a beautiful high energy little guy while (at 42!) I’m often exhausted and feeling my own aches and pains.
Where’s the Chi?
But that’s ok. After all, a friend of mine told me that the great thing about being an older mom is what you’ve lost in Chi (energy), you’ve gained in WISDOM.
Sounds good, huh? Except that truth be told, on most days I don’t feel like a very wise mom. In fact, my self-esteem is challenged daily.
Where was “wise” during maternity leave when Mike went back to work leaving me looking completely befuddled at 4-week-old Mikey? And where was “wise” during my first, and to date only, attempt to do bath-time by myself? (Let’s just say the bath did not go well.)
And where is “wise” today when I feel pressure trying to live up to the “perfect mom” image? As you might know through reading my novel Crumbs Are Not Enough, I’ve worked on my self-esteem for years and thought I was in a good place – until I had a baby.
Actually, the process of having a baby did a number on my self-esteem, too, especially when the fertility specialist told me that I was too fat for treatment and he didn’t believe I could lose enough weight to get pregnant! But I digress – that’s a story for another day.
Once Mikey came along, I spent many days feeling I was “doing something wrong.” For example, I work full time. While my husband does too, his schedule is more reasonable, allowing him more time than me with the baby. In turn, our son seems to be more comforted by Daddy than me. And I feel like crap. I know Mikey is a baby – and things may change – but it still hurts my self-esteem today.
And. So. Does. Breastfeeding. Or, should I say, my lack of success with it.
From the beginning I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I accepted the call that “breast milk is best” and I planned to breastfeed for at least the first six months of Mikey’s life. I borrowed books, watched videos, rented a $60-per-month high power pump (not having patience to wait for health insurance to cover it) and bought all of the equipment –accessories, storage bags, containers, nipple shields, and fenugreek herbs. You name it, I bought it. And I pumped. And pumped. Every day while home on maternity leave, and each day back at the office.
The result? Low production.
In fact, from the very beginning, I had to supplement with formula.
The breastfeeding only lasted three months. I felt so much guilt about “failing my son.” I know breast milk is best but what about all of “us” mothers who have trouble breastfeeding? Can we get any messages that don’t make us feel like crappy moms?
I remember once I went on a play date with some moms from church and all of them were breastfeeding. I started praying, “God please don’t let Mikey get hungry. Please let him be ok until he gets home.” But, sure enough, he started crying and I felt awful pulling out his bottle and mixing in Mikey’s formula. Don’t get me wrong – I know these women and don’t think any of them were judging me. However, I couldn’t escape judging myself. Heck, even the formula label shouted “breast milk is best” as I quickly deemed myself the “worst of the bunch.”
What could I do?
My Next Good Plan
Well, soon after the play date, I began making homemade formula. It would take a lot more time and effort on my part, so of course it must be better, right? I bought all organic ingredients and started making batches of formula every other day. I felt pretty dang good – until the day Mikey stopped pooping, started having intestinal problems, and wound up in the emergency room – dehydrated, constipated, anemic, and weighing two pounds less than he did before I started making homemade formula. As I watched doctors stick needles into my baby, I beat myself up yet again for not being able to breastfeed him for longer.
Fast forward a few months…with each and every challenge, a new reality began to reveal itself. I couldn’t stop working on self-esteem issues just because I had a new little bundle of joy around.
Each day with Mikey contains joyful – and some not so joyful moments, over which I could beat myself up – if I allowed it. As I’ve done before in my life, I needed to stop, take a breath, and break the cycle of being down on myself. There’s already enough judgement on moms in our society – I certainly didn’t need to add to it – especially if the Mom is me – or YOU.
So . . . I won’t judge. You won’t judge. Indeed, no one will judge here at the Perfectly Me Mommy blog. We’ll share challenges, ups and downs, and perfectly me stories. I went first . . . Now it’s YOUR turn.