by Lindy Klim
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”. As it turns out, Lennon was onto something.
I have been asked a lot about what it means to have a baby at 40, a topic of conversation that has been around for some time now. Yes, it’s true that a lot of women are having children later on in life. Some women are choosing to focus on their careers first, many more have had to go down painful roads with fertility woes, while some are also finding themselves in a whole new chapter of their lives they never foresaw coming. I myself am one of those women.
So, what does it mean for me to have a baby at 40? It means strength, love and acceptance – with plenty of sleepless nights and a few tears shed along the way.
My first baby and the love of my life, Stella, was born 11 years ago – a bundle of pure bliss and sheer terror all in one. As most new mothers know, it’s a time of second-guessing everything you do and wondering how you would keep this tiny human safe and alive. In the midst of taking on hundreds of opinions on how to parent and second-guessing your ability to do so, you are also met with the realisation that you don’t recognise yourself or your body. So, as if your job weren’t challenging enough, you set out to bounce back as quickly as possible. You deal with the sleepless nights with a few added coffees and for the most part, you make it through that first year wondering what just happened.
Being in my 20s, I bounced back quickly and went straight back into work. I stuck to a strict regime of being the best version of a working mother, wife, daughter and friend that I knew how. There was never really a moment to stop and give myself a pat on the back, but more of a self-reflection on how I could do it better. Comparing my own journey to women I looked up to – well that became a daily occurrence. But being a mother was the most rewarding job I ever knew. I went on to have two more beautiful children, Rocco two years later and Frankie three years after that.
Goldie, however, has different and in many ways, I feel as though I am doing it all for the first time…
It’s no secret that my marriage to my ex-husband fell apart in somewhat spectacular manner. When you live your life in the public eye, every little fall is exacerbated by the fact that you have thousands of people watching. In the midst of trying to protect my children from the storm that ensued, I felt like I would need to find a new ‘normal’. Love was the last thing on my mind and certainly so were more babies.
But life has a funny way of taking you to extraordinary places when you least expect it. At 38 I found my self a divorcee, something I never in my wildest dreams thought would be my path, and madly and deeply in love with a man who not only accepted me but welcomed my three children as if there were his own. The fear of having to welcome someone new into my little safe haven disappeared and that awkward blending phase never came. It’s as if Adam had been around all along. Naturally when I found out I was pregnant I was both elated to extend our blended family and terrified at the prospect of doing it all over again at 40.
So what was different this time around? Truth be told – a lot! My pregnancy seemed somewhat harder. No matter how amazing and incredible our bodies are, 40 is 40 so I was more tired, more uncomfortable and by the end of the 9 months, ready to drive myself to the hospital to get Goldie out. Then there was the added dread of “will my body ever be the same”. Whether we want to admit it or not, society has forced that little fear at the top of our list, right next to breastfeeding and being a superwoman.
But something changed after I had Goldie, other than my body’s ability to bounce right back. I changed. The pure elation of seeing my little family bond and grow together allowed me to shed a certain ego I had in my 20s and early 30s. My priority was no longer bouncing straight back into shape and getting my bikini body back. It wasn’t listening to hundreds of opinions on how to parent best and beating myself up about every single choice I made as a mother. Heck, my priority was no longer ‘trying to do it all’ and run myself into the ground.
Being a new mum at 40 means having the strength to start over and ride the rollercoaster that is life with conviction. It means learning to spread the love, ensuring all my children receive my attention and dedication and know they are safe and cared for without bounds. It means nurturing my relationship with my fiancé and nurturing my soul and finding those little moments in time to be present rather than worrying about what may be. It certainly means worrying less about bouncing back and welcoming those little stretch marks that helped welcome a new life into the world. It also means learning to love myself more – something I will forever be grateful to Adam for teaching me.
Being a new mum can be challenging at the best of times, but doing it at 40 means you are a little more accepting of your own journey. I certainly am learning to be more accepting of my own.