Greetings!!! My apologies for the delay…..This post continues our series of narratives from real women who had their first baby over age 35.
This week we hear from Rachel Wiederhold, who became a mother again, again, and again despite years of ambivalence.
Rachel writes: “Growing up, I never recall wanting to be a mother. In fact, it was quite the opposite. My mom and I had a contentious relationship, especially in my teenage years. My mom became a mother at the young age of 19. She came from a very large southern family and married my dad at 18. I’m sure she wasn’t truly prepared to become a mother but from her perspective it was what you did after you left home and were married. I’m sure my childhood experiences very much influenced my own life even to this day.
I met my husband, Alan, in college. He was 6 years older than me as he served in the US Navy before pursuing his degree. He was already a father, he had a son from a previous relationship. His being a father was something that I had to reconcile internally before becoming emotionally involved in a relationship with him. Obviously, I was able to embrace both Alan and his son and, after 1.5 years of dating, we were engaged. We planned our wedding for the fall of 1997 following graduation. When Alan went to pick up his son for summer visitation, his son’s mother informed him that she thought it best for him to come live with us. Alan called me and prefaced the conversation with “Are you sitting down? It’s a boy.” It was at that moment I officially became a mother. Becoming a biological mother would happen much later. It was in raising my stepson that I decided to put any thought of bringing my own child into the world on indefinite hold. My stepson at the age of 7 had so much emotional baggage from his own mother literally “giving him up” and other forms of abuse. While coming to live with us was by far the best thing to happen to him, he didn’t necessarily believe that. He was more focused on being abandoned by his mom. He’s now in a better frame of mind after years of therapy and soul searching
My hold on biological motherhood was based on a few factors:
- Not wanting to be the type of mom that I personally experienced: young, inexperienced, and emotionally reactive
- Not wanting to have my stepson think he was being replaced by my own biological children
- My own desire to do the things I wanted and not be tied down.
My husband and I never really discussed expanding our family, even after 16 years of marriage (at that point in time). Many of our friends began having children and likely shaped my own personal desire to have a child. We were in the camp of not trying but not avoiding. I had been taking birth control since college and I was 38 years old. I had no idea if my fertility was intact or not. It didn’t take long to discover that everything was fully functional. I discovered I was pregnant right before Christmas in 2013. My pregnancy was relatively easy with the exception of high blood pressure that lead to an uneventful induced birth of my daughter at 39 weeks. Raising my daughter was a breeze through the baby phase. She’s now 4 and smart, strong willed, and outgoing. A mini version of myself. I can only imagine how much more challenging motherhood will become.
Two years after having my daughter, I found I was pregnant with my son…at the age of 40 due to forgetting to take my birth control. That pregnancy was also stress-free. No blood pressure issues like I had with my daughter, but he came very quickly into this world six weeks early. His premature birth was never determined to be related to my advanced maternal age. After 18 days in the NICU, my son came home on oxygen for a month. And at nearly 2.5 years old he’s small but mighty.
I personally find that having a child at a later age was the right decision for my husband and me. We’re much more patient, mature, and established in our lives. We have a greater understanding of how to balance work and life. We devote time and attention to our children, while maintaining careers and personal interests. In our 20’s we raised Alan’s son and looking back, while we did the best we could, we feel like we would have done a much better job knowing what we do now. I guess that is the beauty of hindsight. Despite your best planning you don’t always know how life will go and have to learn to adapt at any stage in life. I don’t regret waiting to have children. As an added bonus it makes others think you are younger than your current age! ;)”
Stay tuned: In two weeks, I will post our reflection on Rachel’s story.
About the author: Rachel Wiederhold grew up in Monroe, Michigan. She attended Western Michigan University where she became a Delta Gamma and earned her BS degree in Psychology & Communications. Upon graduation, she married her college sweetheart and Navy veteran, Alan. In 2004 she relocated to the Baltimore area where she lives with her husband, 2 children, and an Italian Greyhound. She is founder and co-owner of 5 Star Staging, LLC and works with Baltimore area Realtors, investors and home owners in preparing their home for the real estate market as well as redesign projects. You can find more at fivestarstaging.com or follow her on Instagram or Facebook at @5starstagingllc