This personal story was written by Michelle in 2018.
For a variety of reasons, many women have children through egg donation when they are "older". Of course there is considerable variation in what people consider to be "older" when it comes to pregnant women – 35 seems to be a cut-off point for many, but that seems positively young to me! I was 41 when my first (naturally conceived) child was born and 45 when my second (DC) child was born. On both occasions, I was delighted to be pregnant and though there were a few complications first time round, with the second pregnancy, I was perfectly well before, during and after the birth, as was my daughter. Fast forward and I am now 56 with an 11 year old – is everything still OK for us and between us?
For me, I have no regrets about a later life pregnancy, but my daughter does have some strong feelings about it. She never tires of telling me that her teacher is the same age as me and “she has a grandchild who is 11!”. She finds having a mum who is so much older than her friends’ mums difficult. She feels it singles her out in some way at a time when she wants to blend in. Although she doesn’t express negative feelings about being DC, it does make her feel different from her friends, so being a DC child of a much older mum is a bit of a double whammy for her. Now I wonder whether we should have predicted or anticipated this when we were trying to conceive, and thought what it might feel like to a child 10, 15 years down the line? We certainly did think about the DC bit, i.e. how might the child feel, how we could help them embrace that part of themselves. But we didn’t think the "older" mum bit would be an issue, when in fact it is for our child, perhaps more so than the DC bit. But, at the end of the day, though it perhaps sounds harsh, my true feeling is that it is just tough if my daughter doesn’t like having an older mum. As I often tell her, my own mum had me when she just 19 and I didn’t like that when I was a child – I was embarrassed at her being so much younger than other kids’ mums. But I don’t think it did me any harm, just as I don’t think my daughter is being harmed by me being older.
However, one thing I would add to any prospective "older" mums reading this, is to think ahead and plan ahead - especially if, as often happens, they will be raising a child alone (and/or if they have twins). It is one thing to be pregnant at 45, quite another to be going through the menopause with a 5 year old! I was lucky in that my menopause was easy and I had a supportive partner. But some women really struggle for a long time with debilitating menopausal symptoms and that’ll be no walk in the park when you have a lively young child to take care of.