From Certain to Ambivalent back to Certain: An Interview with Liz

An elementary school teacher and part-time unit coordinator in a birthing unit, Liz is 38 and 14 weeks pregnant at the time of the interview. Liz immigrated to the U.S. from England when she was six and she became a U.S. citizen at the age of 36.

MS: Have you always known you wanted kids?

Liz: I always knew that I wanted kids and then I started to doubt that I wanted kids. I always wanted kids. When I was six someone asked me what I wanted to do for a living and I said that I wanted to be a mom.  But then, years went by and I was single and I think I was pretty depressed about being single and then

around 30 I was like, maybe I just won’t be a mom and that’ll be fine.

And all of my friends were having kids and whenever I hung out with them it felt very overwhelming and I thought, oh maybe not, maybe I don’t want that.

MS: So you went from certain to ambivalent and then you met Jeff?

We had been dating maybe a month, and he said one morning, do you want kids and I said, yeah. And that sort of surprised me too. And I said, does that make you nervous? And he said, yeah.  But it was my gut response.

Liz: When you were younger you envisioned yourself having kids, when did you think you would start?

Probably my mid-twenties. My mother had her kids when she was 24, 26, 30 and then I started to be those ages and I thought, I could not have a kid. Even if I had been in a relationship, I don’t feel like I was capable of having a kid at that point.

MS: What do you think is different?

Liz: My mom met my dad when she was 15. It’s just generationally different. They got married and had kids. And, I think that because of the internet and travel being cheaper, we have a million other things to do, whereas marrying young doesn’t happen as much.

MS: Do you think there are any drawbacks to waiting until you are over 35 to have kids?

I think the drawbacks to having kids later probably measure out to the same as having them earlier. You have less time with them more than likely. My kids will have less time with me than I have with my parents.

Hopefully, I’ll be a more patient and better parent than I would have been ten years ago.

I think I have more empathy than I used to. As a teacher, I am more able to put myself in another parents’ shoes and look for the best in kids rather than just reacting to them.

MS: How has teaching impacted your perception of parenting?

Liz: I think that teaching and seeing so many parents and families makes me realize that for 95% of people everyone is trying to do what’s best for their kids. I can’t always figure out how that works in their minds.

MS: Do you think your age has affected your pregnancy in any way?

Liz: I doesn’t seem to have. I’ve been to the maternal-fetal medicine specialist because my mom had problems and because I am advanced maternal age, and they said, everything looks really good. I can’t complain about anything in my pregnancy except for the nerves. I haven’t felt sick; I haven’t thrown up. I feel fine.

MS: What is making you feel nervous?

Liz: I know that this baby needs another ten weeks of gestation. It’s just that unknown. Every ache pain, cramp, everything I put in my mouth, can I eat that, can I not?

MS: Do you think you would’ve been as nervous if you were younger?

Liz: Yes. All my lab results are good. I just think until this child comes out and both of us are responsible for it, I’m the only one responsible for it. I wanted a sip of wine the other day and our doctor said no, and I said to him, it’s not about the alcohol, it’s about feeling normal. I feel fine, but I never feel normal anymore because every single thing I put in my body, every action I do, I think about this baby.

MS: Do you think that’s healthy?

Liz: No. I do think that because the American College of Gynecologists wants to cover their asses they are doing a lot of telling you you can’t have certain things so I then look up, well does Europe do that? If Europe and America agree, then I won’t eat it, but smoked salmon, England eats, so I’m going for it.

MS: How has working in a birthing unit impacted your perception of pregnancy and delivery?

Liz: I switched to a midwife recently and I was talking to the nurse when making the appointments and she said I had to have a doctor to go along with my midwife and she said this particular doctor is very blunt and then this other doctor will talk to you for hours. And I said, who has the lowest C-section rate? That was my deciding factor because, when a woman has been in labor for hours and the red sox game is coming on, I’ve seen doctors make the call to do a C-section.

MS: If you could give your 25 year old self advice about pregnancy and motherhood, what would you say?

Liz: Vanity speaking, I now show and most people at 14 weeks don’t show. I read that because my core was not solidly in shape, that there’s no muscles holding in my uterus. I would tell myself to be in good shape. The better shape you are in, the better your recovery will be.

MS: Sometimes there’s friction between mothers and non-mothers, have you ever experienced this tension?

Liz: So many of my friends have kids and I always tried to be very understanding. I always really liked babies and I would go over and help out. I think I had a hard time when I was a non-mom not by choice. I had a particular friend who, it was right around when my dad died, and she found out that she was having a second boy and she told me about the “grief” she was experiencing, from this planned, health pregnancy!–because she was having a boy instead of a girl, and I had a really hard time forgiving that. She and I had talked very openly about how much I did want kids and it wasn’t in the cards. So for her to use the word grief, I was so taken aback.

MS: Do you think it’s a trend of moms to be insensitive to nonmoms?

Liz: I was just at a cocktail party with a woman who told me she was trying to get pregnant and had done six rounds of IVF, and everyone who came into our conversation and just found out I was pregnant would try to talk about it, and I would try to steer the conversation to anything else.  I was not feeling guilty but feeling this poor woman does not need to hear about all of these things when she is going through this.

MS: Do you think being pregnant at an advanced maternal age helped you develop the sensitivity to steer the conversation that way?

Liz: Yes, knowing the feeling of longing to have kids and not being in a position to have them. Those conversations are not where you want to be. I didn’t always want to hear the pregnancy talk from my friends with their big bellies, but I listened.

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