Ema, now 43 and a single parent, was 42 years old when she had her son
I’ve always loved children – I’m a nanny, after all. But at 42 I didn’t think I’d ever have any of my own. My mum was 15 when she had me and my nan was 16 when she had my mum… I think both of them felt the pressure of having children at such a young age. I felt it with my mum; it wasn’t that she didn’t want me but having me that young was hard. I was nine when my mum left – she was only 24; I am sure it was because of the responsibility of motherhood, the weight of it.

My nan raised me. I love them both dearly but I know that if they had the choice to do things over, teen pregnancy would not be top of their priority list. I didn’t want to have a child that I resented; a concept that I associated with young mums. I went on the pill at the age of 13 and it was only in my thirties that I started trying for children. It didn’t happen.

I tried for about six years and then the relationship I was in ended, at which stage I knew that if I was going to have children, it’d probably be as a single mum. And I was OK with that, mainly because I’d spent the last 20 years doing everything I’ve really wanted to do – being crazy. I’ve done the mad benders and been out and not had any responsibility. I remember thinking that the best thing about not having a child is ‘no responsibility’ but now, at 43 with a one-year-old son, I like the responsibility.

I was nine when my mum left – she was only 24; I am sure it was because of the responsibility of motherhood, the weight of it

I didn’t know I was pregnant until four months in; I thought I was going through menopause. At that time I was working abroad, and I didn’t have anyone nearby to share the shock with. But I was excited once the fact sunk in; that I was actually going to be a mum. It was the best feeling ever. I had a permanent smile on my face.

Pregnancy was awesome. The only time I ever felt old was when I went to the hospital and they kept using the phrase “at your age”. They didn’t call me a ‘geriatric pregnancy’, which is a term sometimes used for older mums, but it was made clear, at every possible moment, that my age was an issue – it didn’t upset me but it did annoy me. When I was almost full term I was told that if I didn’t have my baby before the due date then there would be complications – would, not could.

Although I understand the healthcare professionals were being cautious, I think they could have made my age not as big an issue as they did. I felt I was lumped into a category rather than treated like an individual. I mean, you can be 20 and have a complicated pregnancy.

Some older mums feel guilty about being, well, older (especially if the pregnancy wasn’t planned) but I don’t. I know that I will raise my son well, and, in effect, I’ve been a single mum for a large portion of my life – looking after other people’s children for a 12 hour day, making hands-on decisions. I’m trained for parenthood. But I do worry about dying and leaving my young son behind. My mum died at 54 – my son will be just 12 years old in 10 years time. Because of that I took out life insurance before he was born; I have a will stating what I want for my son if were something to happen to me. I am not trying not to be morbid or fatalistic, or anything – just responsible. That word again.

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