Elderly Pregnancy: I Endured the First Trimester, and You Can, Too

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pregnant

Imagine my shock when I got the results of my positive pregnancy test from my doctor’s office on my electronic medical chart and saw the label, “Supervision of ELDERLY Multigravida.” I googled multigravida and found it means “a female animal who has been pregnant for at least a second time.” So, I guess that’s me. And elderly. I guess that’s me, too. I am an elderly multigravida. And here I thought I was just a 41-year-old pregnant woman happily gestating baby number 5. I mean, I was prepared to read about my “geriatric” pregnancy or my “advanced maternal age,” but “elderly”? It definitely didn’t beat around the bush.

The truth was I felt elderly that whole first trimester, like I was moving through a cloud of exhaustion, a fog of ennui, a haze of— you get the idea. I had an early miscarriage a few years ago, so my husband I decided to tell approximately ZERO PEOPLE I was pregnant until we heard the baby’s heartbeat, saw the little gummy bear on the ultrasound screen, did a couple rounds of prenatal tests, and made it through those first 3 months. That meant that this elderly multigravida went it alone for 12 long weeks.

I flaked out on more plans with friends than usual (which is saying something because I am naturally kind of a flake). I took a nap every afternoon and felt absolutely miserable from 3pm-8pm every evening, when my “morning” sickness kicked in. I didn’t even have the energy to take my coat off at my daughter’s dance class and just sat in the lobby, sluggish, freezing, and half asleep, hoping my 8-year-old’s Nintendo Switch could parent him while his sister danced. (Spoiler alert: IT TOTALLY COULD).

At 6:30 pm every evening, I put on my pajamas, grabbed the afghan my grandma knitted for me in grad school and a couple of throw pillows, and camped on the couch, dozing until 8 when I made the herculean effort to stand up and help put my first-grader and second-grader to bed. Then it was back to the couch until the middle schoolers were tucked in, and by this time, I had been asleep while the family functioned around me for a good three hours.

Thankfully, I have waddled into the second trimester, and I feel mostly good most of the time. I am still taking my spot on the couch by 8:30 every night and have had quite a nap by the time my husband is ready for bed at 10, but I can wake up early for a work out, get dressed in grown up clothes and work all day, cook meals for the family (but still not onions, garlic, or bacon—the smell is too much for me), run all of the errands, make small talk at kiddie activities. I feel almost human.

I have emerged from this first trimester armed with a couple of tips for old moms like me, so I want to share them with you:

  1. Drink all of the water, and if you are too cold for water, drink all of the tea. I really like this one.
  2. Make your morning coffee half caff so you can have 2 cups—I don’t know why, but 2 cups of weak coffee feels so much more indulgent than one normal cup.
  3. Exercise everyday even if you cannot imagine how you’ll get through it. I do 50 minutes of cardio every morning, and although I dread it when the alarm goes off, it makes me feel energized before I face a houseful of kids.
  4. Take all of the naps. You always have time. Trust me.
  5. Get all of the prenatal tests your insurance will pay for. I was especially amazed with the non-invasive prenatal testing blood draw at 10 weeks and 3 days that told us a lot about the baby and, most excitingly, revealed that IT’S A GIRL!
  6. Consider starting a gentle prenatal yoga practice. I really like this one on Amazon Prime.
  7. Get acupuncture—it can help with a whole host of first trimester symptoms.
  8. Use a gratitude journal. It can be easy to feel down during the first trimester when your old lady body might be feeling the effects of exhaustion more than it used to.  It’s also such a gift to be pregnant and elderly. Journaling helped me appreciate the magic of these lonely first few months.

One thing that surprised me is that my kids, who are 13, 11, 8, and 6, didn’t even notice I was acting sick for so long. They didn’t bat an eye when I took naps every day, and they didn’t think it was strange that I rarely ate dinner and always fell asleep on the couch right after I did their dishes. I thought for sure they’d be suspicious. Pregnancy only came up once during my first trimester. Apropos of nothing, my first-grade daughter said, “Mom, I wish we had a baby in our house. It’s too bad you’re too old to have one.”

If you only knew, I thought but was too tired to say.

Sarah Jedd
Sarah Jedd has a Ph.D. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches and studies the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood. Sarah has 4 children nine years old and younger, three boys and an oh-look-you-finally-got-your girl (why does everyone say that?). In her spare time (ha! as if!) she is writing a memoir, and she blogs at harrytimes.blogspot.com. Sarah and her husband and their kids and world’s laziest dog live in Verona.

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