Faith Salie on becoming a new mom at middle-age

(CBS News) Today is a day that holds particular meaning this year for our contributor Faith Salie:


This is my first Mother's Day as a mother. My son is 11 months and 11 days old. But who's counting?

I am.

Because I'm an old mom of a young baby, and every moment matters.

I feel young, but there's no fooling Mother Nature: I got pregnant for the first time at 40, and in the past two years, I've had three pregnancies and one baby. If you do the math, it comes out to . . . I'm lucky.

After I got married, our Best Man threw us a party, complete with vans to transport guests. There was a note in the front passenger's seat that read, "RESERVED FOR THE ELDERLY AND PREGNANT."

I sat there, because I was both. Sign of the times.

I'm not alone in being an older mother. Since 1990, the birth rate for women over 40 has almost doubled. But the average age of the first-time American mother is just 25. There aren't that many of us having what's horrifyingly called a "geriatric pregnancy" -- having a baby at 35 or older.

Geriatric? Thirty-five sounds pretty young to me!

Despite amazing advances in fertility to help older women get pregnant, the complications, increased chances of autism, and chromosomal abnormalities are significant considerations.

If I could have had my baby sooner, I would have, simply to spend more years with him.

But my boy came when he came, naturally and miraculously, by the grace of God, or Fate, or the timing of a million fruitless dates that meant I met his father as I entered middle age.

And I wouldn't change a thing about him.

My mother died when she was 10 years older than I am now. This doesn't escape me when I'm with my son: how many years will we have together? Is today the day he starts remembering things like how I announce that I'm going to kiss his nose, and then his left eyebrow, and then his tummy? That I sing him show tunes instead of lullabies?

He doesn't know that I'm old; I'm just his mommy.

For the first time in my life, I'm squinting to see things far away, but I keep my baby close, so I see him clearly. For the first time, I'm getting gray hair in my roots, but my baby is too short to see the top of my head.

Mothers of all ages delight in their children, but I don't know that if I were younger, I would feel as acutely, profoundly, preciously grateful for every smile, squeal, and -- yes -- diaper blowout.

Happy Mother's Day to mothers-to-be and mothers-that-were, to young moms and old moms.


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