Sarah Greenwood

Life begins at 40 years and 9 months...

Well it did for me!

This was the age that I had our first daughter, and about 8 months later, I was pregnant with our second daughter!

I was a late entrant to the race called “parenthood”. In fact, my partner was too. He was 49 when our first was born, and 50 by the time our second arrived.

We had both previously been married, and for one reason or another, having children wasn’t a factor in either of those relationships. However, when we both met, we knew that it was what we both wanted with each other. So we started trying for a baby.

Now I’m not saying it was easy-far from it. We didn’t have as hard a journey as some, but we had some difficulties. I suffered a miscarriage early on in my first pregnancy, which hit me for six. It’d taken nearly a year to fall pregnant, and we’d been referred to the fertility clinic by our GP, as we’d had concerns about my age and how long it was taking. I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right, and at the appointment, I was given a fact sheet on Polycystic Ovaries. This can’t be right-I’m 40 and only just finding this out?! I was pre-diabetic and I was given medication to help with this. Turned out, this was also a “wonder drug”, and I fell pregnant quite quickly!

Everything was going smoothly until about 34 weeks, when a routine urine test at the midwives showed sugar in my sample. In 5 days, I’d had another glucose tolerance test (GTT) and been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Because I was so far along, there was no time to control it with tablets, and I was given a week to try changing my diet. Not long enough, so I ended up on insulin. My birth plan changed and I had to be induced.

After nearly 2 days, our baby girl was born, and we were over the moon! Our daily life consisted of feeding, cuddles, bathing, crying, and that was just the parents! Toast and jam at 3am, pink babygrows, cracked nipples, poonamis, puke, and all I kept thinking was “this is so hard, I feel alone.” I felt so ungrateful for having some negative thoughts, as I knew some women would give their right arm to hold a baby. Some days, I thought about going back to work. Dealing with repetitive quotes and difficult clients seemed like a walk in the park compared to a newborn!

We didn’t have any family close by as such, and being older parents meant that OUR parents are older too! We got through it though, and things did get easier.

From the beginning, we’d talked about whether Little Miss M would be an only child, when we may have another, IF we were capable of having another too. I think as a couple, we were aware that we may need a little extra help just like the first time.

Little Miss M was around 7 months old when I started getting a headache that lasted a few days. I had also been unable to finish a glass of wine at night. Now those that know me know that this is unheard of and nigh on impossible! I was visiting a friend when I was to the point of throwing up and had what I thought was a migraine brewing. She looked at me, and uttered those words, “you’re not pregnant are you?”

Now I very quickly tried to recall my last period (couldn’t remember) and thought “nah”…. No way am I pregnant! I tried to convince myself all the way home I wasn’t, however when I mentioned it to my partner, he said “do a test but I reckon you’re pregnant”. Off I went to the bathroom, did the test, and sat there thinking “I don’t know why I’m bothering with this, it’s not going to show anything”…..WHAT WAS THAT?! Right there….a line appeared. Positive.

It took me a weekend to come to terms with the fact we’d have 2 under 2…or as my mum said 2 under 18 months! I cried. I felt guilty that our first wouldn’t have us all to herself, how would she cope?, how would we cope? First thing on the to buy list was a double buggy!

As an older mum, I was under consultant care, and given the fact that I’d had late gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, I was treated from the start as if I had it already. Armed with my testing kit and metformin tablets, I saw the consultant every 2-3 weeks with this pregnancy. 4 tablets a day, every day, as well as folic acid and aspirin. Then I had the finger prick blood test 3-4 times a day. Watching what I ate, low carb diet, not many treats. My go to treat was a digestive biscuit covered in full fat cream cheese. I followed a page on Facebook for gestational diabetes, and it was a lifesaver! Recipes to make diabetic brownies (kept me sane) and a support network.

At every appointment, my blood sugars were scrutinised, told me whether I was doing ok or not. It was bloody hard. It was like Russian roulette with a testing kit every time I drew blood. What would it be? Was I within the limits set? For some, having no booze when pregnant is a task in itself, but imagine no sweet treats? In this pregnancy I had to go through

* Christmas

* Partner’s 50th birthday treat afternoon tea at The Ritz

* Valentine’s Day

* Little Miss M’s 1st birthday

* Mother’s Day

* Easter

* My birthday

It was hard, but I did it. It’s usual to lose a bit of weight with it, and at full term I was 3.5kg lighter in weight! Baby Bea was born a healthy weight, and due to me having GD, she had to pass 2 sugar tests before we were allowed home.

I was lucky my partner had a month off to help with 2 babies, and we got through it. I remember him saying to me the day before he went back to work, “just remember you can only deal with one baby at a time”. And he was right. Soon, they were like a tag team-one started crying, got attention, then the other cried. I was at my wits end some days. I often sat and silently cried. It felt a real effort just to get them both dressed, let alone myself! I set my alarm early to get showered before they wake up, but some days they haven’t received that memo and wake before me!

Trying to deal with our first born and give her as much attention as the baby was difficult, but we always made time for a cuddle, a kiss or a read of a book with her. Gone were the days of nipping out with a single pushchair. I now had a mum bus! Trying to document mentally how many nappies in the bag, change of clothes for both, food for our eldest. Every day I felt mentally drained, like any mum does, thinking of ways to entertain them, to stop the baby getting the brunt of our toddlers jealousy. Some days, I wondered into town, and had to walk out of shops because I was so overwhelmed and stressed by something that happened that morning, I just burst into tears. Post pregnancy hormones didn’t help either! A woman came after me just to check I was ok, which set me off again!

It’s got easier, and now our baby is 8 months old. However, we’ve now hit the terrible twos with our eldest. She can put a rock star trashing a hotel room to shame! Every day there are new words, more fun, giggles, and she’s so loving to her little sister.

We often wondered to ourselves is it more difficult having a small age gap between children, or having twins? A lady came up to me once who was a mum to twins and said we definitely had it harder, as with twins they generally develop at the same time. I think any parent has it hard in the beginning. It’s such a huge change to your life, your habits, your daily routine. But having children also enhances your life in many ways that are unexplainable.

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