Definition of geriatric in English
1 Relating to old people, especially with regard to their healthcare. (From lexico.com)
Imagine being thirty-five, in your prime and discovering that not only are you pregnant but that you are classed as a geriatric mother. At thirty-five! Cheryl Cole is thirty-five for crying out loud. Khloe Kardashian. Avril Levigne… Do any of them strike you as ancient, decrepit fossils or any of the other equally as offensive synonyms that pop up when you stick geriatric in the thesaurus? Hardly – it feels like they were trying on their mum’s push-up bras whilst I was graduating university.
Well, when those two blue lines popped up on my piddle stick (and the digital piddler told me I was 2-3 weeks – one has to be sure), I knew I was well and truly past it at thirty-nine years of age! What a term. I get it – with age comes increased risk: premature birth, defects, assisted births, miscarriage – the list goes on. I wore the t-shirt for miscarriage and it was tough, but I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.
No matter what age, that discovery is wondrous and petrifying in equal measure. You are suddenly charged with this immense responsibility and need to consider every single thing you do with and put in to your body. Hayfever? Deal with it. Cough and cold? Suck it up. Cool, refreshing glass of Chardonnay? Forget about it mumma! So with so much to worry about, it hardly seems fair to stamp this label that is synonymous with being over the hill, infirm and senior on the increasing number of women who choose to have children later.
The Guardian reported in 2015 that for the first time, ‘more babies have been born to women 35 or older than under 25. Newborns to mothers aged at least 35 accounted for 21% of births in England and Wales’ in 2014. I am one of those woman who chose to have the career, to see the world, to date thoroughly unsuccessfully (until Chris came along) and have a whole lot of selfish fun and lay-ins before spawning. Do I regret doing it this way around? Hell no! Admittedly Granny Mo was getting a bit edgy thinking she was going to have to make do with two grand-cats rather than the furthering of our family gene-pool.
Having Harry ten days after my fortieth birthday has changed life exponentially but isn’t that the case for any mum? At forty I am in the position where I have a lovely home, private medical care (thanks Chris – never would’ve got that working for a state primary school) and some of the financial pressures I had as a twenty-something living in London are no longer an issue. As for geriatric – I can hold my own in soft-play, can still bosh out a sub-30 minute 5km and I am proud to say, still have all my own teeth. If we have to differentiate between mums, then how about we go for a softer term? To coin a phrase from Bing (the CBeebies bunny I despise – but there’s a whole other post for that one) how about we just agree I’m an oldish mum. Now I’m off for a nanna nap!