When we hear the word ‘geriatric’ thoughts of the elderly tend to come to mind. Images of retirees sitting on old deck chairs listening to AM radio…
It’s not really a word you want to be associated with in your thirties and certainly not as you grow new life. Yet over the years, older mums-to-be have been labelled ‘geriatric mothers’, a term used by the medical profession to describe pregnancies in women aged 35 and above, regardless of their overall physical health.
Many, including myself, find the term offensive.
And why wouldn’t we? A lot of women feel like they are in their prime in their 30’s. They have most likely tried and tested a few different career paths, perhaps spent some time travelling and hopefully managed to stash away some cash for a rainy day. On one hand society deems such achievements as successful and yet on the other classifies us with derogatory terms such as ‘geriatric pregnancy’.
My pre pregnancy journey
My journey to pregnancy later in life was because of a mix of different reasons.
I didn’t feel ready for a serious relationship until I hit 30, and then at 31 I was introduced to my now husband through a mutual friend. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and starting to entangle our separate and very busy lifestyles. When we took the big step to move in together, we both knew a wedding wasn’t far away. By the time we walked down the aisle, we had been together 3.5 years at which stage we thought kids would follow soon enough.
In 2019, the year we got married, we faced a big curve ball when I was made redundant from my job, of which I had been in for over 10 years. I finished up on the month we had spoken about trying for a baby. As a result, starting our pregnancy journey at that time, was no longer a priority. In a lot of respects, I was lucky to have my new career as a fitness professional light a fire in me and reignited a career passion that had left me a long time ago. But it was also a new world with a new ladder to climb. And amid the COVID-19 outbreak, I wasn’t thinking of bringing new life into this world; I was just trying to stay afloat. However, after the passing of my mum in May 2020, I realised that time on this earth is precious and now was the right time to start trying for the family we had always hoped for. I knew time was ticking (I had just turned 36) but we were fortunate to fall pregnant and my daughter Logan was born in April 2021.
Even as someone who was fit and active and had some very good nutrition habits, I was still anxious about my pregnancy journey and the health of my baby. I knew that the risk of pregnancy complications statistically rise in our mid-30s, while fertility declines with each passing year. Along with that, I knew pregnant women in their mid-30s and beyond can have a higher risk of diabetes, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, miscarriage, and having a baby with Down’s Syndrome. This was a lot to get my head (and heart) around.
My pregnancy ended up being low risk and all my check-ups were routine. I delivered vaginally at 39 weeks, had an episiotomy and an iron infusion following some heavy bleeding but the most part, my pregnancy was nothing out of the ordinary. My daughter on the other hand, is any but ordinary!
For me, the most challenging aspect has been motherhood following birth.
A screaming baby who only sleeps for short periods of time, dealing with body image, balancing work and caring for my daughter…it turned my world upside down.
However, I am grateful to do this at my age when I have learnt to prioritize downtime, accept my body and appreciate its beauty and have built a career around my life (and not the other way around).
37-year-old me is a lot wiser than 27-year-old me.
I think we can all agree ‘geriatric mother’ isn’t a helpful or useful term for anyone embarking on their pregnancy journey. Some may laugh it off whilst others may take it to heart. Either way, we need understand that everyone’s pregnancy journey is unique and shouldn’t be defined according to our age.