“The truth about having a baby at 37”

As the Duchess of Sussex announces her pregnancy, one mum reveals what it’s really like to be an ‘older mother’

October 19 2018

Like Meghan Markle, I was 37 when I fell pregnant and had my first baby. Like Meghan, I was also on my second marriage and my husband is a tall redhead. But I won’t ever be a famous actress or part of the Royal family, so that’s probably where the similarities end!

Having conceived at the same age as the Duchess, however, I was disappointed but unsurprised when articles referencing Meghan’s age popped up almost immediately after she and Prince Harry announced their pregnancy. The Mirror talked about her ‘geriatric pregnancy’, while the Express claimed she was ‘approaching 40’ (even though she is three years away from that milestone birthday!).

And while it’s true there are extra precautions and medical issues to be taken into consideration when you give birth at the ‘ripe old age’ of 37, there are a lot of benefits too.

When I fell pregnant at 37, I had been trying for many, many years to have a baby. I was SO ready for motherhood. And when those two pink lines finally popped up on the pee stick, I can honestly say it was the best day of my life.

I also was (and am still) in a great relationship, I was happy with where I was at in my career and had a terrific job working with a fantastic team. I had travelled the world, partied, gone to a million rock concerts… and I was more than ready to give all those things up for family life.

My pregnancy progressed pretty normally, although of course, being over 35 I did have extra screening and diagnostic tests to check for genetic disorders. There were a few wobbly moments while we waited for the test results but they all came back clear. I did get a bit sick of hearing the phrase ‘because of your age’ at every medical check-up, and more than one taxi driver commented on my old age, but mostly it was water off a duck’s back. I was just so happy to finally be having a baby.

When my daughter was born, like every mum I was ecstatic… and exhausted. Maybe I would have fared better energy wise if I’d been younger. But I had nothing to compare it with, so I just tried my best to look after my health and wellbeing and get on with things. And whether you’re 20, 30 or 40 – show me the mother of a newborn who isn’t constantly sleep deprived!

And as a fertility specialist told me, age is only one factor when it comes to conceiving, carrying, birthing and raising a child. “Better to be a healthy, fit 35-year-old than a 22-year-old who is overweight and smokes,” he’d said.

At 37, I was also reasonably thick-skinned. Motherhood brings with it a slew of advice from friends, family and strangers alike – most of it unsolicited – but I took on board what I liked and ignored the rest. I felt that people would probably judge me whatever I did so I would trust my instincts and parent the way I wanted to – I’m not sure I would have been as confident if I’d had a baby earlier on in life.

When I was in hospital with my brand-new daughter, my obstetrician walked in and said “Congratulations, you’ll want to be having another one soon though, an old bird like you.” I felt like clobbering him, as I was still recovering from the birth and in a lot of pain. But I did go back for round two eventually, and my son was born a few years later, when I was 40.

When my youngest child turns 20, I will be 60 and my husband 61. But being in your sixties is not what it was a few decades ago. My husband and I are fit and healthy, we eat well, we don’t smoke. My husband is an avid-hang glider and my favourite activity is thru-hiking. As a family, we go camping and hiking frequently. We are conscious of being older parents and hope to have many more years of fun, active family life with our children.

So I truly hope the Duchess of Sussex enjoys her pregnancy and motherhood alongside her own red-headed Prince Charming. Motherhood is a wonderful journey and a gift. And if she’s lucky enough to have more than one child, even better.

For the record though, if you’re wondering (as many pundits are) whether the baby will be a redhead, I will say from my very scientific experiment of having two children with a red-headed man, that one is blonde and one is brunette. Apparently red hair skips a generation.