I’m a mom of three. I’m also 46. That probably doesn’t mean much until I mention that my oldest kid, Alex, is only five years old. Just the other day, I was dropping Alex off at school with my two daughters—Maia, 2, and Selina, 7 months—when another mom approached me.
“I don’t know how you do it,” she said. “I have two and I can’t keep up.”
I laughed and asked, “You never thought about having a third?”
“Well, my husband and I talked about it, but I’m 35 and I don’t want to risk my baby’s health.”
Boom! Her comment hit me like a punch to the gut. Should I tell her?
“Um, well, I’m 46 and everything worked out OK,” I said, waiting for a high-pitched, only-dogs-can-hear response.
“46?!” Then a barrage of questions: “Weren’t you worried about the risks? Were there complications? Why did you wait so long?”
This, I remind myself, is why I prefer not to tell people how old I am.
I didn’t plan on being an “older” mom; it’s just how my life played out. I was a hard-working, career-driven woman—a reporter and an anchor in Toronto. I met my husband later in life. I was 40 when we got married and pregnant soon after. When I set eyes on my firstborn, I was 41, but I knew instantly that motherhood was going to be my new passion. By the time I had my second child, 2½ years later, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom.
My third child, Selina, was a beautiful surprise. I’ll be honest: When I first found out I was pregnant at 45 (while on birth control, no less), I think I hyperventilated. I remember telling my husband, “I’m going to be 46 when I give birth to our baby—46!” Even I thought I was too old to be having another kid. Breastfeeding all over again. Late-night wake-ups. Of course, when I looked at Selina’s beautiful face the day she was born, all I could think was, this is perfection.
Medically speaking, there were some health issues that came with being an older mom. All three pregnancies were termed “geriatric,” which made me feel ancient!
For my first pregnancy, my ob-gyn told me that I couldn’t go past my due date because studies have shown that the placenta ages faster for women over 40. As a result, I had to be induced for Alex’s birth.
Sadly, my next pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. But soon after, I was pregnant again with Maia. This time I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes—a common diagnosis in moms over 35. I took a medical leave of absence, tweaked my diet and exercised often. I had to check my glucose levels two hours after every meal to ensure that they were normal. My sweet little girl came five days early, and the delivery took only seven minutes! My water broke in the car, and by the time I was wheeled to the maternity ward, I was yelling “The baby is coming!” My husband was gone just a few minutes to park the car and missed the whole thing.
With my third child, I had to be induced again. The doctor broke my water and she arrived 45 minutes later. After that birth, my ob-gyn told me something I’ll never forget: “You know, Anna, you are really lucky,” she said. “Some women have trouble getting pregnant, and here you are at 46 with three beautiful children.” I felt extremely blessed.
But it can be difficult to shake the rude and hurtful sentiments I regularly face. One dad once remarked, “Hey, you just popped out a kid and soon you’ll be starting menopause.” I also get the obvious statements, like “You must be so busy!” I’m willing to wager that having three kids at any age is challenging.
Amidst all the shocked feedback I’ve gotten about my age—like the one mom who couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that I had three kids after 40—I’ve also received all kinds of positive comments. My friends refer to me as “Supermom.” Some have even called me a “rock star,” which I secretly love.
Being an older parent also has some advantages. First of all, my husband and I are financially secure. We don’t worry about making ends meet and don’t face the same financial struggles that many young families do. Secondly, I’ve lived through a lot of happiness, successes, hardships and disappointments. I’m wiser and more comfortable in my own skin than I was in my 30s. Yes, I’m tired sometimes. But what parent isn’t?
I’m also not immune to concerns about my age. Do I worry that I’ll be old when my kids graduate from college or university? Hell, yeah! When my youngest is 24, I’ll be 70. But I wouldn’t trade what I have right now for the world. For me, the timing for starting my family was right.
The next time someone makes a quip about my age or jokingly asks “What the heck were you thinking?” I’ve decided I’m not going to be embarrassed about it. I’m going to own it and be proud of it because, after all, three beautiful little miracles came out of this.
This article was originally published online in May 2019.