Being a Mom at 40.

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Have you ever questioned other mothers’ age? Or thought about if there is a perfect age to become a mom? Are there ‘too late’ timings?

At age 40 (with a 10 year old son and a 7 year old daughter), my life has changed. A lot. A new country, a new language, a new culture. And, surprisingly, a new baby. When I thought I was done with diapers and nursing lullabies, another baby was on the way.

The feelings and doubts this time were different. My previous maternity experience and the maturity of the 40’s, gave me some peace and confidence. But, on the other hand, I had a lot more information – heard and seen – than before, which made me more aware of the inherent risks.

I decided to embrace this pregnancy by taking advantage of the 40’s (and not looking at them as a disadvantage).

The main difficulties were: the onset of gestational diabetes (genetically caused), which forced me to be more careful with my diet; the physical fatigue caused by having two other children to care for and their never ending activities to manage; and, finally, some emotional fragility about missing my parents and siblings, more than ever.  Still, none of these difficulties were age related.

Regarding the experience I am living right now as an older mom, I can say that it is tremendously rewarding. I appreciate time in a different way, I try not to rush or submit to pressure. I am no better mother now than I have been before, but yes, I am a different one. The main changes I can list:

– I do not try to anticipate each stage (nor did I subscribe to any newsletter to send me weekly developmental milestones). I just want to see my baby happy and healthy (it does not matter if she’s already rolling over or sitting without support like most babies her age);

– I respect routines, but I’m no longer their prisoner. We do not miss a family activity because of nap time, baby sleeps on the way!

– I do not spend a fortune on baby clothes anymore. It’s hard to resist, I know, but the speed at which they grow in this first year is not commensurate with the money we make. I make more sustainable choices. Her smile will always be her best accessory!

– I choose the pediatrician who best interacts with the baby and me, and not the most popular on Google rankings.

– Regarding food I feel that’s where the biggest change occurred. Perhaps because of the problems that arose with my other children when solids were introduced, this time I opted for a more natural diet, preferring breastfeeding (until I’m unable to) and, as long as the baby is healthy and growing, I no more look at the tables of percentiles, pounds or inches.

– About toys, I have substantially reduced the quantity, but I try to improve quality. I provide her with toys that stimulate senses without making her excessively aroused and tired. We have many resources at home that we can re-use, and babies even prefer! As a last resort, there will always be siblings to carry her in turn!

– Finally, I hear and trust my inner voice rather than the several, confusing and often not required, advise from people, books, magazines or internet. 

My experience as a mother at 40 has been all good. I do not feel older, I feel rejuvenated (who does not prefer to focus on a diaper rash cream than on an anti-wrinkle cream?!). I know that every woman feels it differently (physical and emotionally), but as far as I am concerned, I could not recommend it more. I do not feel that being a mother at this age has made me give up on anything. But rather the opposite, just added. Love, a lot of love.

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Maria Ines Goncalves is yet another Portuguese mom named Maria (like most of the women in Portugal), but now she is a Portuguese mom in the USA. Born in Portugal, Maria graduated with a degree in Political Science and believed she was not ready for motherhood, wanting to pursue her career and travel the world, although not wanting to live overseas. Guess what? She turned into a stay-at-home-mom of three (2007, 2010 and 2018) and moved to St. Louis due to her husband's job in 2017. Changes are a pattern in her life and, when she’s not adjusting to another life change, she loves to dance, bake, photograph, sew, draw and paint with the kids. But mainly she loves to enjoy the beauty and craziness of motherhood, her real and most precious purpose in life.