I was 36 years old when my first baby was born. The husband and I had been married for just shy of 9 years. The delay was for the most part intentional, though we had a number of family and other crises throughout those 9 years that would have been exponentially more difficult to tend to if we had had young children in the mix. We had the freedom and opportunities to travel and pour ourselves into ministry and learning opportunities without needing to worry about nursing schedules or sleep schedules or all things childcare. I have few regrets about waiting to start a family. However, on nearly a daily basis, I think of a close friend’s advice after she had her two children in her early 30s. “As your friend, I have to encourage you to think about trying to have a family when you’re younger. It’s just incredibly physical.” Of course I didn’t fully appreciate much less understand what she was talking about then, but now, the conversation constantly resounds in my mind. Everyone was right when they said I’d learn to do so many things with one hand. Cook. Tidy the house. Pack the car. All with a 20+ pound clingy child in one arm, trying to keep her from touching hot surfaces or tumbling out of my overcommitted arms onto the floor. My right wrist has an inexplicable, relentless ache. I can fall asleep on a dime if I close my eyes for longer than 10 seconds at any time of the day, but I wake at every whimper and stir in the middle of the night. It’s incredibly physical. And she can’t even walk independently yet, much less run. Mama is in trouble.
On a physical level, it would have been fantastic to have had her in my 20s. I was in better shape. I relied on coffee so much less. I could conquer the world and at times, my schedule would have led you to believe that was what I was out to do. But besides the not-so-insignificant fact that there were life situations throughout that decade and into my early 30s which demanded an extraordinary amount of both physical and emotional attention, I was simply a different person. My emotions were more volatile. I was less firmly grounded in my identity as a beloved child of God. I was less self-aware as an introvert, as a young adult who was still affected so profoundly by my childhood, and as a new bride just barely learning how to negotiate self-sacrifice and messy love with another human being 24/7.
It’s a funny medical diagnosis. Elderly primigravida. You live a day past 35 years and you are diagnosed elderly if you’re a pregnant woman. I am tired, and I am certain that 10 years ago, my right wrist would not have been as fragile and susceptible to the strains of constant baby manipulation. But I would say that Baby and her Daddy and I, we like each other a whole lot. We are good for each other. I am glad that it’s her, conceived at just the right time. Her calm, silly, sweet, goofy disposition is perfect for us. I am glad it is me, now, and I am glad it is her with us, now.