When 40 is the New 78

Last year, as I prepared to turn 40, I did a fair amount of worrying. And complaining. And venting. And polling about effective yet reasonably priced anti-aging serums.

But everyone told me not to worry.

“40 is the new 30!”

They all said it in unison, with the same chipper inflection, as if it was the mandatory response that karma dictated.  The delivery always had the very rehearsed and highly forced enthusiasm of a bad high school glee club audition.

And I noticed that everyone who chirped these niceties at me fell into one of two camps:

1) They were in the same, now-departing-your-30s-forever boat {Is that desperation I smell? Oh yes, I know that scent}.

OR

2) They were clearly younger and unable to conceive of such old age — probably while wondering with concern if an elder like me could be suitable as the class mom.

But as my milestone birthday approached, they all cheered me on anyway.

“Have a party!”

“Celebrate you!”

“This is the best time of your life!”

“Go big!”

And so I did. I had a party. I took the trip of a lifetime. I embraced 40.

Because The Anti-Aging Glee Club told me it’s the new 30.

Here’s the thing:  They were not being totally honest with me.

How do I know?  Well, fast forward about eight months into my 40th (or, my new 30th) year. I started telling people the great news that I’m pregnant with our third child. I was touched by all of the good wishes and enthusiasm that I received from so many. People are so lovely. So kind-hearted. So thoughtful in the words they choose.

Mostly.

And then there were the age-related comments. Suddenly, some of my formerly chipper cheerleaders found a way to let me know that 40 is not the new 30 at all.

What some were now saying was that, when it comes to my ancient reproductive system, 40 is the new 78.

When it was birthday party time, everyone said 40 would be the new 30.

But I didn’t read the fine print in my birthday cards. That After 40 Pregnancy Clause seems to have made me jump from The New 30 to The Clearly Geriatric 78. I missed that caveat.

I’ll be 41 when I deliver. I know it’s not exactly the average age for childbirth, but it’s far from a biological rarity, wouldn’t you say? I mean, I’m not getting a Michelle Duggar perm. I don’t suggest we have girls’ night out at the 3pm buffet. And, as far as I can tell, I don’t feel close to death. Except for the moments when I have to suffer through limited caffeine intake. Or when I hear a Taylor Swift song on the radio.

 

But, nonetheless, a handful of my acquaintances were ready to submit me to the Guinness Book of World Records. Or to the circus. Or to a nursing home with on-site child care.

Remember 40 is the new 30?

Noooooo. Turns out they meant for skin care. And parties. Not for obstetrics and diapers and breast pumps.

  • Those who said ”Have a party!” were now saying, “You’re seeing a specialist, right?”  
  • “Celebrate you! “ became  ”Holy crap! How did this happen? Was it planned?”
  • “This is the best time of your life!” was replaced by ”I can’t believe you’ll be looking at kindergarten in five years instead of colleges.”  
  • The “Go big!” crowd was now prodding, ”There goes retirement, huh?”  

At the risk of sounding like a late-night ginsu knives infomercial: Wait — there’s more!

How are these for your next Hallmark-inspired greeting card:

  • “That’s some serious fertility you have there.”  
  • “How old will your husband be for this child’s high school graduation?” 
  • “I could never start all of that again at this point in my life — but I’m so happy for you.” 

I smiled and tried to address their questions and comments politely. I mean, sort of. At least on the outside.

But you know those moments when you want to go back in time and revise your response to someone? When you always think of something better to say after the fact? Well, I’ve been having those lately. Rather than my cordial/smiley/wtf nod, I wish I had answered a little differently. You know, in my own special way. 

Like this.

“Why, yes, I am under the care of a top geriatric specialist studying my miracle uterus. We may bury it on ancient ground after I deliver and singlehandedly preserve mankind.”

“I’m a selective overachiever. My SATs were mediocre, but clockwork ovulation is really my niche.”

“High school graduation? Oh, jeez — that math hurts my brain. But, don’t worry, we’ll wheel my husband up to a good seat in the front.”

“Hey, thanks for your support! Where can we get those BFF half-heart necklaces?”

 

OK, yes, I’m being hypersensitive. Or hormonal. Probably both. I know. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, we are low on ice cream and that may or may not have a substantial impact on my state of mind. If you don’t want me to cry, you’ll send over some Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chip right fucking now.

To be clear, most people have been overwhelmingly nice and very excited for me. Those who suffer from I Can’t Say The Right Thing Syndrome have been a mere handful, whose names I will remember forever.

See, there I go again. I need the ice cream.

So, it’s all good — I’ve got this. It’s not my first time at the childbirth rodeo. And this time I’m going with the older=wiser angle.

Oh, and the next time I run into the Anti-Aging Glee Club, I can’t wait to show them the perfect place in my new stroller to store my eye cream. And my AARP card.

 

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Comments

  1. Oh, do I get it. I had my last baby at 39 and the thing that pissed me off the most was when I would go to the doctor and they would discuss my “advanced age.” Seriously? Advanced age? In what world was 39 (or 40) an advanced age? Then, I’d get all the same comments you listed above. Just smile, nod and say “Damn straight I’m having a baby at 40. I’m such a hottie at THIS ADVANCED AGE, my husband couldn’t keep his hands off me.”
    Amy (My Real Life) recently posted…Everyone Needs a Laugh TuesdayMy Profile

    • fordeville says:

      And here I thought it was odd that the doctors classified me as Advanced Maternal Age at 35. Now I’m more like walking litigation to them.

  2. Anna says:

    You never fail to make me laugh out loud! Maybe when you’re looking for your babysitter for this kid you can make sure that she can change baby and adult diapers – you know – since you’ll probably need them at your advanced age…
    Anna recently posted…Finding the Perfect PediatricianMy Profile

  3. Devan says:

    Well, I have been on your facebook page for a long time, but this is the first blog I have read of yours! (sorry! I am now following!) I love this! I have a baby and I am about to turn 39 and I get some of this. I mean taking the proper precautions is one thing but to say “advanced age”???? What ever!! You rock it mama – and Congratulations!!
    I will be scouring your archives over the next week or so! :)
    Devan (TNMOM)

  4. Trish says:

    I had my first child at 40 and my second at 42. My favorite I Can’t Say the Right Thing Syndrome comment always comes from people I’ve never met who are, apparently, also able to see into the future. It goes a little something like this……”your grandchildren are cute!’

  5. Donna Cheatle says:

    I guess I come from a different world than the people who are shocked that a woman would be pregnant in her 40′s. My mother in law was 42 when she had my hubs. My bestie was 40 when she had her youngest. Another bestie was 44 when she had her twins, then 46 when she had her youngest. I could go on and on. The point is simple. The judgemental people should sit down, shut up, and pass the fucking ice cream!!!

    • fordeville says:

      Yeah, I think most people know better than to be shocked. But there are always a few out there…
      And amen to the ice cream!

  6. This is fabulous! I am a huge fan of those blessed with no filter who feel the need to voice their opinion, even when not asked. Your responses are brilliant and I’m sure your kids will be sure to polish your walker for you before graduation ;-) Great post Kim!
    Tara at YKIHAYHT recently posted…Do I Look Fat in These Jeans?My Profile

  7. Shannon says:

    Just turned 40 myself (with a 2 year old) and I feel ya sista!

  8. I love this and love you more for it! I had my fifth baby at 41, and all the things other people have said to you, I said to myself! But, no worries, our kids keep us young, and that’s what’s important. Oh, and by the way, I actually happen to have some Edy’s slow churned Mint Chip in the freezer. I’ll bring it over STAT and we can talk about our miraculous aging uteri. :)
    Kathy at kissing the frog recently posted…When Your Baby Has a Birth DefectMy Profile

  9. HouseTalkN says:

    This is why I love you and your miracle uterus!
    HouseTalkN recently posted…A Melanoma PSAMy Profile

  10. My mom had her last baby at 42. My little sister is 12 now, and my parents still seem ridiculously young to me. I’ve known lots and lots of women who gave birth at 40 or so. You’re rockin’ it, my friend! Not to mention, you’re going to have a gorgeous baby on your hands here pretty soon, and that baby will be lucky to have such a great mom…:)
    Paige Kellerman recently posted…The Mysterious Goings-On of Mr. Salvador PerezMy Profile

  11. I think being around pregnant people tends to bring out the stupid in others. Even when you’re not 40. In my first pregnancy a co-worker came up to me and said, “You’re pregnant aren’t you? You’re showing in your face.” Neat. I didn’t even know you could carry a face baby.

    I’m surprise you’re getting those reactions. I thought having babies after 40 was what all the cool kids are doing. Of course, I live I’m California.
    Meredith @ The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears recently posted…The Voices in My HeadMy Profile

  12. Marcos says:

    I have your perfect retort:

    “Two words: Halle Berry”

    • fordeville says:

      Yes, this may be the only remotely possible way in which I could ever compare myself to Halle Berry.

  13. Ninja Mom says:

    Brava!

    My mother had me in her twenties, and my sister and brother in her early forties. She has always said,

    “With you I had all of the energy and none of the patience. With your sister and brother I had all the patience and none of the energy.”

    I always liked that adage. But in the context of your post, I think she might be saying,

    “Assholes are judge-y no matter when you have kids. If you’re in your twenties they think you’re too young and stupid to mother; if you’re in your forties they think you’re uterus is too dusty and your abilities addled by dementia.”

    Go big, babe. In all things.
    Ninja Mom recently posted…Spring Break but I’m not broken.My Profile

  14. I don’t want to be the first to tell you about baby-induced sleep deprivation making you feel like you just turned the “new 80″ but it was a whole different world at 40 than it was at 22. I’m sure you’ll be fine though, that whole ‘new 30′ thing.

  15. Frammitz says:

    Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chip is perfection.

    The Baby Boomers’ enthusiasm to re-set the clock on their mortality is fine, but it does not change our biology. This is why we get Advanced Maternal Age stamped on our files. I was not ashamed of that stamp, because I am not ashamed of my age. True, the risks do go up as you (and your husband) age, but we are mothers, not risks.

    Women have been having babies in their 40s forever. Women today often choose not to, because we finally have a choice in the matter. But that is THEIR choice, which has nothing to do with you.

    Can’t Say The Right thing Syndrome is another way of saying that they are being very rude. People are laying their judgements on your decisions. Somehow, pregnancy makes it seem okay to do this out loud. It’s not.

    I am a mother to a 1-year old and a 3-year old. I am 44. And it’s wonderful.
    Frammitz recently posted…Daymares, or Our No-Tragedy PolicyMy Profile

    • fordeville says:

      Bravo!
      I have no problem with the AMA stamp, per se, because I do understand there are actual increased risks. But yes, we will always have the Judgy McJudgersons to tell us all how to make our choices.

  16. Sarah says:

    I had a baby at 40, after having one at 26 and 29. if i heard “because you are of advanced maternal age…” once, i heard it a thousand times. i was ready to commit homicide by the time it was over.

  17. Sheila Schulz says:

    I had my 1st child at 17 (almost 18, though), my 2nd at 38.5, and my 3rd (and VERY last) at 41 (I’m SO done having babies! I’ve had many nightmares about being pregnant, since my daughter was born 5.5 years ago). I’m living what Ninja Mom’s mom went thru, and I totally concur with the high energy/ low patience vs. low energy/ high patience. I was WAY more judged at 17 than I was at 38 & 41, tho. People who knew me, knew how much I wanted these kids, and either I don’t know anyone with I Can’t Say The Right Thing Syndrome, or I can’t remember them (advanced age, you know). Oh, wait! There was this time (my 40th b-day party, actually) when a friend of a friend asked me when I was due, but I wasn’t preggers. AND, when my son (my 2nd child) was in grade 1, one of his snotpicker classmates asked him if I was his grandma! I say, “Whatever!”. I prefer to see the humour in it, otherwise I’d cry. Every age has its pros & cons, when it comes to having babies, but I’m a WAY better mom now, than I was way back in my prehistoric days.

  18. You poor thing. This line made me laugh – “Those who suffer from I Can’t Say The Right Thing Syndrome have been a mere handful, whose names I will remember forever.” Even if you are hormonal, you are eloquent.

    And I don’t think you are overly sensitive at all. You are surrounded by much douchery, for sure. Ellen
    Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms recently posted…9 Mom Superpowers Plus Our KryptoniteMy Profile

  19. Michelle says:

    Love this hilarious contradiction! Next time somebody says something, ask them if they’d say that to Halle Berry. She’s 46. Hell, you could have 3 more kids by 46. ;)
    Michelle recently posted…A letter to the ass-hat parents whose kids annoyed the crap out of me on vacation.My Profile

  20. Erin O says:

    My mom had me at 41. In the ’70s. With 7 other kids at home. Yeah, she took some crap for it too. I have no illusion that I was planned, either. Now I’m age she was when I was born, and I’m sitting here having lunch with my 3-year-old. My mom’s still alive even if her memory is going (which you’ll see in my linked post). You’re not the first, you won’t be the last. Enjoy your bundle!
    Erin O recently posted…A Loose WeaveMy Profile

  21. Here’s a comment from someone whose mom was 40ish when she got pregnant. Don’t go all cray cray on me–just my opinion, but if she had had me when she was younger, I would have had more time with her and my son would have had a grandma to see him graduate from college and get married and other cool stuff. She died when he was 7. Just sayin…there are other sides to the story. She’d be in her nineties now.
    Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife recently posted…Guest Post: (Aunt) Princess Rosebud writes a letter to the JesterMy Profile

    • Alas, ovulation does not work that way. If your mom had gotten pregnant earlier, it would not have been you because it would have been a different egg. Your son would have never existed. That’s a mind blowing side to the story, right? Ellen
      Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms recently posted…9 Mom Superpowers Plus Our KryptoniteMy Profile

    • fordeville says:

      I struggle with your comment — OK, that’s an understatement.
      I respect your right to present “the other side of the story,” but I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell me while I’m 7 months pregnant.

      I’m sorry you felt you didn’t get enough time with your mom — truly, I am. But to project that experience into a judgment about my choices is disappointing, at a minimum. Also, it’s pretty ironic, given the nature of my post.

  22. I’m pretty sure I was one of the people who offended you and for that I’m sorry. I have no filter. It’s a real problem for me. I will say though, my grandmother was well into her 40s when she had her last child. She and her husband are both alive and kicking and enjoying their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

  23. Christie says:

    I have a 4 month old and I am 42. I’ve heard all the geriatric/advanced
    Maternal age comments I care to hear. Halle
    Barry is 46, Kelly Preston was 47, Marcia Cross
    Was 45….I’ve got time for another! I say those
    While it may be true that when their kids are in
    College mine will be starting kindergarten, when
    They were knee deep in diapers at 23, I was living
    It up at a ski resort in France. Trying learning to
    Ski when you are in your 40′s doable, but much
    More likely to break something. And you STILL
    Have kids even if they are in college. I caused plenty
    Of trouble in college…

    • fordeville says:

      Agreed. I wouldn’t trade in my childless 20s for the world.
      But for those who have/had kids at that age, I have no judgement about that. I just personally wasn’t ready. At all.

  24. Whitney says:

    You are too funny!!! You are SO not too old to have a baby. My sister had her last at 41 and who cares what people think, They have 5, 4 girls and 1 boy!! She always got, “you are finally getting your boy, are you going to stop now?”

    Some people just have NO filter. I think it’s fabulous you are having another, and 40 is the new 30!! Trust me, I work with the new 78 and it’s actually 90!! Best of luck with that baby, and if I lived closer, I would certainly make sure you always had ice cream!!!

    Whit

  25. Ginger Kay says:

    Pregnant women must give off some residual hormone that causes those around them to stop filtering every stupid thing they think. If you’re young enough to get pregnant, you’re not to old to have a baby. Simple enough. Congratulations!
    Ginger Kay recently posted…A Library I Hate to LoveMy Profile

  26. Kim, I love your smarts and your snark and your minimally wounded heart that punched out this post full of spot-on truths. Luckiest baby ever. Can you combine the kids eat free and blue plate special deals…because, SCORE.
    Bethany @ Bad Parenting Moments recently posted…Something sticky this way comes.My Profile

  27. Pam says:

    You are hilarious. This might be my new favorite blog. Looking forward to reading more.
    Pam recently posted…GratefulMy Profile

  28. I’m doing the standing slow clap for you right now, and so is every other mom whose OB nurse did a double-take at her birth date and then made her wait even longer in the paper gown while she went and printed up new stickers for her chart since this would suddenly be a “high risk” pregnancy – because I was going to turn 35 before the due date. **eye roll**
    hollow tree ventures recently posted…Mom’s favorite hiding place (in limericks)My Profile

    • fordeville says:

      I had my first child at 35 and my second at 37. You can imagine the multitude of stickers they added this time around.
      {And thanks for the standing slow clap!}

  29. Libby says:

    I’m 41 and pregnant with #3.

    Part of me is all “Squee! Babies! Squishy cuddle love!” and then the other part is like “Jesus woman, you JUST got diapers out of your house and almost everyone knows how to swim!”

    We wanted this very much, and I’m excited, but I’m also TERRIFIED to start telling people. [I'm waiting on test results before we spill this big bean] I have a feeling we will be hearing it all.

    Think I can use my AARP card for diaper discounts?

  30. Rena says:

    I’m 43 and 6 months pregnant with my first (and probably only) child. Kaiser has classified me as “Elderly Primapara” on my medical record. Classy, right? I think I’m going to get it printed on a t-shirt.

    On the other hand NO ONE outside of my doctor’s office has commented on my age in relationship to my pregnancy. I suspect it’s because I’m in California, it’s apparently not that unusual here. My High Risk OB said I’m one of the youngest women in her practice.

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