Older mothers rock: why having a baby over 40 actually isn’t that big a deal

One older mum offers her advice to Janet Jackson who is having a baby aged 50.

So, Janet Jackson’s having a baby at almost 50. Congratulations, Jan! And welcome to the club for ancient mums. I’ve been a member for a while. I had my first child, Lucia, at the extremely average age of 34. Divorce and remarriage ensued, however, so it turned out that I had my second, Daisy, at 42. That already seemed pretty past it but wait for it, there’s more… Because I went on to have my third daughter, Matilda, at the grand old age of 45.

The chances of conceiving naturally – which Matilda was, in case you were wondering, which I know you were – were miniscule at that age. Using your own egg, even with assisted fertilisation, the odds are only 1 per cent (yes, you read that right. One. Per. Cent). The chances of staying pregnant were also slim – 60% of pregnancies at 45, I read fearfully, ends in miscarriage.

But we made it and now, aged 50, I am the oldest mum in the classroom. There are more of us than ever, though – numbers of mums over 40 have doubled in the last 20 years. So Janet, here’s what you need to know:

1. While your friends are having grandchildren and/or affairs, you will be pushing a buggy around Co-Op (or Hollywood in your case, but you get the picture). The upside of this is that everyone will think you are younger than you are. The downside is that pushing a buggy demotes you to second-class citizen no matter what your age – although at least you do have somewhere to hang your shopping.

2. At a time when you might be expecting to focus on yourself – retrain as a landscape gardener, launch a start-up yoga app or write your long-awaited first novel – you will be learning a new skill. That of being very, very silly. This morning I had to pretend Matilda is a puppy called Fluffy who barks once for yes, twice for no, while Daisy imagined she was a cat called Mittens; I also had to talk to Matilda’s pet worm, called, um, Wormy. I know. It’s insane.

3. Exercise takes on a new meaning. Walking becomes meaningless at best, torture at worst, as you have to slow down to tortoise pace to accommodate the ladybird your child just coaxed onto her finger. You will make up for the lost calories chasing your child around with their knickers/tights/coat/shoes/hairbrush/toothbrush/flannel, however.

4. You will lose some of your old friends who are discovering a second youth and partying too hard to be seen dead with you – quite reasonably, they will think you are too boring to hang about with any more as you have to go to bed at 9.30pm and believe that everything your child says is amazing and bears endless repetition (‘She was singing Frozen and she said “Let the strawberry jam” instead of “Let the storm rage on” – can you believe it???!!!’)

5. You will be tired. Yes, even more tired than if you were younger.

6. You will become obsessed with your own mortality – the thought that you will die before you’ve seen them all right in their lives is unbearable. This does mean you will be healthier – I now swim, run and cycle, don’t smoke and attempt to drink sensibly (although all the above does slightly drive me into the arms of Mr P. Grigio most nights, I do admit) in a bid to keep the Grim Reaper at bay.

7. There’s always an excuse to watch puppy, kitten and piglet Youtube videos, however, which is good.

Oh, and one last thing Janet. I don’t know if you get nits in Hollywood but if you do, Hedrin is your best bet.

Good luck.

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