Diary of a MomMotherhood

What It’s Really Like to Become a First-Time MOTHER At 40?


What It’s Really Like to Become a First-Time MOTHER At 40?

Every woman deserves the choice to be a Mother but, becoming a first-time “mother at 40” is a strategic decision that requires dealing wisely with a lot of logistics.

Being an older mum is nothing new. Historically speaking a woman might become a grandmother by the time her younger child was born. Biologically on the other hand, the 20’s are the best time to have a baby. Lifecycle-wise, between the age of 32-35 would have been easier at least for me. I was pregnant at 40 and gave birth to my baby at 41.

Nowadays, if you are a pregnant woman over the age of 35 you are referred to, labelled, stamped, tagged etc… as “Older mum”, “Elderly Primigravida”, “AMA” (advanced maternal age), “High Risk”, “Pregnant woman with a precious baby” and the list goes on… Accordingly, l was labelled with all the above… But, l didn’t mind. l was becoming a mother, and l was ready for it.

l believe that motherhood is ageless, limitless and it’s all about the state of mind… However, being a doctor l knew that there is a lot more to having a baby than conceiving and delivering it. I was mindful of the fact that the risk of complications during pregnancy increased with older age but, thanks to advances in medicine (genetic testing very early in pregnancy) the odds of limiting those risks are now better than ever.

l thought that pregnancy was all about the pregnancy glow; ha ha to that! It surely was no merry go ride. Every woman goes through different types of changes during pregnancy. As far as l was concerned, l saw them all; from nausea, to heart burn, to indigestion to unbelievable weight gain, to fatigue to stiff and painful joints that tagged along even after delivery. You have no idea, and neither did l until l went through it.

I didn’t think much beyond the baby. The reality is, motherhood is wonderful, scary and overwhelming all at the same time especially after 40. Well, I accept all that it brings with it. I don’t lie about my age. To me motherhood is remarkable; from the first-time I held my baby l knew l can never go back to my old life, and that was fine by me. I am deeply in love with him and nothing can be compared to this beautiful human being who now makes me smile from the bottom of my heart.

Older motherhood is a unique experience that has both an upside and a downside to it. On the upside, being an older mum l am more emotionally mature, more experienced in life, more financially secure, I take so much less for granted and l was ready and prepared to make all the necessary sacrifices that having a baby brings. Throughout my pregnancy l was always on the look-out for info on the subject and what l found was quite surprising! Research suggested that women who raise a family late live longer and that the children of older parents are more likely to do well at school than those born to very young parents… So, that was relieving. On the downside however, l don’t have the energy l had in my 20’s, there is a huge age gap between my son and l (having my son at 41 means l will be 59 when he is 18), people will think I’m the Grandmother, the majority of the moms l meet at the park are ten or more years younger than l. So, these kinds of things worry me…

There is a belief that it’s irresponsible to have children later in life; that is incorrect because loving a child in the right way is the most important thing. Having a baby has changed me immeasurably. I feel more comfortable and am happier. Even the anatomy of my handbag has dramatically changed! It still does contain lip gloss, a nail-file, hand cream and business cards but in addition to that it has an extra pacifier, extra wipes and a small musical toy.

Children are good fun whatever age you have them. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you’re having sleepless nights, it’s still going to be tough. But if you’ve waited this long for children like me, you will cherish every sleepless night, every dirty nappy. My parents are in their seventies; my baby has given them a real joy of life. We have a lot of fun with our little angel, we go to the park, go shopping, dine out and we started traveling as soon as he turned 3 months. He has become our new partner…

All things considered, I have no regrets over having a child at 40. My baby who is almost 1 year old now, is a kind, charming, smart, music lover and is like a sponge to new information. If you are worried about being an older mom, don’t. Just be well prepared. Be sure you have your partner on board; l couldn’t have done it without my husband, he is my rock. Having a baby is a gift and should be embraced no matter when you decide to take this step.

I’m still on maternity leave so l haven’t gone back to work yet, but l believe that when l do it will take a while to learn to juggle all my roles, new and old, but with some efficient organization l think it will be doable.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. It may sometimes take years till you find the ‘MR. RIGHT’ with whom you would consider having a baby!

And remember, in life you can have it all but, not all at once…

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Dr. Nelly Abulata

Dr. Nelly Abulata is a Professor at Kasr Al-Ainy Faculty of Medicine- Cairo University with almost 20 years of diverse experience in Public/ Private, Academic, Clinical, Management, Training and Research settings in cross-cultural environments. She is a Thought Leader and Management Consultant for Higher Education & Healthcare, an Expert and Mentor for Health, a Women’s Leadership Coach and a Presentation Guru. She is also a Wife and a Mom. Her goal is to bring about positive change in her community and make a difference in people’s lives. Check out her page.


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