|Jennifer Bingham Hull |
Current Resident of: Florida
Child’s name and age: Isabelle, age 14 and Jessica, age 11
Current or former profession(s): Author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life, Blogger at MidAgeMom.com, journalist.
InSeason Mom Cynthia: How long were you trying to get pregnant?
Jennifer: About a year and a half.
InSeason Mom Cynthia: What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 35?
Jennifer: Mine is a funny fertility story. After a year of trying to conceive on our own, we started fertility treatments when I was 39. We did two rounds of IVF without success and then began preparing for GIFT.
GIFT stands for gamete intrafallopian transfer. More invasive and expensive than IVF, it involves removing eggs from your ovaries, fertilizing them with your partner’s sperm, and then inserting them into your fallopian tubes through the abdomen.
Two days before I was scheduled to be hospitalized for GIFT, I went for an ultrasound. My husband, Bill, was holding a legal pad full of questions about GIFT. He was launching into them when the fertility doctor announced that I was already pregnant!
Bill slumped against the wall with his pad, in total shock. Later he raced to the pharmacy to return $2,000 worth of fertility drugs. It was like winning the lottery. Two years later, at age 42, I gave birth to our second child without any fertility work.
The Medical Community
InSeason Mom Cynthia: How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
Jennifer: My ob/gyn was great. He delivered my second daughter as well. I was very happy, though I had c-sections both times.
InSeasonMom Cynthia: Did you change doctors or would like to have changed doctors?
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
InSeasonMom Cynthia: Who was the first person you told about your pregnancy and why?
Jennifer: We called our mothers. I don’t dare say which one we called first.
InSeasonMom Cynthia: What was the reaction of friends and family when you told me about your pregnancy?
Jennifer: Happy, happy, happy - for all the right reasons.
LABOR AND DELIVERY
InSeasonMom Cynthia: Did you take any childbirth classes? Why or why not?
Jennifer: We took private classes both times. It’s important to take a refresher course with the second child. You think you remember everything but you don’t.
I particularly liked our second instructor because at that point I was set to have a scheduled c-section. It’s easy to feel like you’ve “failed” with a c-section. We all expect to give birth naturally. But she said, “No one asks later how the baby got here.” That put things in perspective.
In fact, my second c-section went well and was much easier than my first birth which involved a long labor and then a c-section - a real double whammy.
InSeasonMom Cynthia:Where did you give birth and what do you remember most about the birth experience?
Jennifer: I gave birth both times at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. What struck me most was how different my two babies were! My first was so alert. A steady parade of nurses tried to get her to sleep, to no avail. My second slept for days. Every time my husband visited the hospital, her eyes were closed. Can you guess which experience was easier?
I AM MOM
InSeasonMom Cynthia: What concerns you most about being a mom over 35 and how do you compensate for this fear?
Jennifer: Having the first baby at 40 means doing the late-night teen pickup in your 50s. My main challenge is keeping up! It takes a lot of energy to raise a family. Throw in sleep disruptions from perimenopause and menopause and you can get worn out.
I’m a person who needs alone time and down time. So sometimes I just have to unplug from all the stuff other parents are doing. For instance, I bought a ticket to the middle school auction tonight. But I’ll probably stay home and take a hot bath.
InSeasonMom Cynthia: What do you enjoy about being an older mom?
Jennifer: I sowed a lot of wild oats in my 20s and early 30s, traveling the world and working as a foreign correspondent in Central America, then a war zone. Having done all that, I was content to settle down and raise a family in my 40s and 50s. There really is a time for all seasons. I’m a much better mom for having pursued those earlier dreams, which were not compatible with raising a family.
InSeasonMom Cynthia: How has becoming a mom changed you?
Jennifer: I will never be safe again - my heart is forever exposed and at risk. But that’s a good thing too.
InSeasonMom Cynthia: What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 35?
Jennifer: Be sure you really want to have children, and if you’re ambivalent, get professional help. I did six months of therapy to decide whether to have a family. It’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Motherhood has been great for me, but it’s not for everybody.
InSeasonMom Cynthia: Any additional comments?
Jennifer: Many younger moms rely on their parents to help with the kids. But for older moms this often isn’t an option. My husband and I have no local relatives. Our parents are too old to babysit or have passed away. So we have a part-time nanny/housekeeper. She’s like family. Her role changes as the kids grow. Right now she’s helping a lot with driving.
Also, from day one my husband and I have shared parenting duties 50-50. I would marry him all over again for his math tutoring skills!
My advice to new moms: if you’re married, get dad involved early on with the baby. The more involved, the better. Everybody will be happier.
For insights on late motherhood, please visit my blog at MidAgeMom.com.
For tips on having the second child, check out my award-winning book, Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life.
InSeason Mom Cynthia would like to thank Jennifer for being an inspiration to moms across the world! (Featured InSeason Mom series started in 2006 and resurrected again in 2011) Check out previous featured InSeason Moms on this blog.