A good number of people in the world likely don't even know the term "advanced maternal age". Usually reserved for we lucky members of the infertility world or the OB that threatens his or her patient about their impending child-bearing doom as they approach the ripe old age of 35.
I've found plenty of blogs focused on losing babies, struggles to build families, and raising children. While I haven't outright looked for blogs reflecting on what it is to be in your mid-forties or fifties while raising young children, I haven't run across them in the way I have all the others. Which leads me to think that I don't have this in common with the women I hang with (or want to hang with) and the women I feel most connected to. And you know what? It's true. I know all of two other women within 2 years of myself who have children age 3 or under. Both of them are women who lost their first child at birth. Neither of them do I see more than once a year. If that.
I like to think that hanging out with the women in my life and raising a young child at this age will keep me young. It might. But I gotta say, the 6 years of pain and intense anxiety that preceded C's birth aged the hell out of me, so there's some making up to do! The age thing doesn't really bother me in the sense that I don't regret being a Mom (at ALL) and there's nothing I can do about it. But I think about it daily. Multiple times a day, actually. It's hard not to when the general public gives you "What a cutie. You must be having fun with her, grandma!" or "Are you mom or grandma?" once a month or so. Looking in the mirror is a harsh reminder. Cheeks are sagging, jowls forming, age spots darkening, gray hairs invading like crusaders bent on defeating the coloring gods. There's the bifocals that are actually making this post VERY hard to write (damn blurry letters), an eyesight event that happened in literally over the course of a single year (I've never worn glasses prior to last year, and went straight from reading glasses to bifocals. Oof!). And my body is certainly letting me know I've got to get on a serious maintenance schedule or it's going to strike. No longer is just "not doing anything to injure myself"enough. Now just existing is causing my body to break down.
But the one thing that brings the whole situation into sharp focus? Hot flashes while I'm breastfeeding. Every time. Several other times throughout the night and day too, but always, always soon after my milk lets down.
And I think…how messed up is this?! How many other women are experiencing this? It's so telling, how we're going against nature's laws with infertility science. Women my age aren't supposed to have children C's age. 20+ years ago…I wouldn't. Probably 10+ years ago, I wouldn't. Donor egg science was just coming around then.
I also wonder if she's getting crazy hormones through the breast milk and if this will cause her to mature prematurely or hurt her in some other way. (Hence the push to actually, really, truly be done breastfeeding at age 3. But oh, I'll miss it. So will she.)
It's messed up. Aging alone is messed up in the sense that it's truly shocking at a certain point! All was pretty good until the last 6-12 months and then…it's like all of a sudden your warranty runs out.
"Grandma", wrinkles, menopause, stretchy skin.
Mom, giggles, her smile that lights up my soul, everything about her.
I'll take the former if it means the latter any day.
(My concerns for her long term well-being with 'old parents' is a post unto itself. Some day, as it were.)