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Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster
by Iris Waichler
My infertility journey started when I got married at 42. I didn’t think about my age until my doctor told me that being over 35 limited my chances of becoming a parent. Our journey lasted almost four years, and an egg donor gave us the gift of parenthood. My daughter, Grace, was born when I was almost 46.
Life before Grace included trekking in Nepal and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I had a successful career as a medical social worker covering the emergency room and working with people who had burns, head injuries, and neurological diseases. Age was not an issue.
Life with Grace
The moment I first held my daughter we looked at each other and she latched onto my nose. I didn’t want her to ever let go. Suddenly I was a mother. I had never felt such intense overwhelming love for anything or anybody. I thought about how I missed my mom, who was no longer alive, and how I needed her to tell me everything I needed to do once we left the hospital. At the time, I didn’t have any close friends who had young kids; they had made similar lifestyle choices.
Initially I felt alone because most new moms were much younger than I. I contacted RESOLVE (an infertility non-profit) and learned there was a playgroup for moms after infertility near my home. I entered a world of incredible women who were my age, and they have become dear friends. We share life experiences. We help each other through menopause. We’re becoming caretakers for our parents while raising little ones. We built our families in similar ways and share insights about what we will tell our children about how they came into our lives.
Because I was a “later life” mom we had some financial security and I had the option of being a mom full time. I believe I am a better mom now than I would have been in my 20s. Those life experiences I brought to parenting help me to be more patient, wiser, and less rattled when something unexpected inevitably happens. Many of our close friends have now had children. Ironically my daughter is the oldest of the bunch. There is a bidding war for her future babysitting services
Acting My Age
I want to live to watch my daughter grow up. I exercise regularly and live a healthy lifestyle. She is a strong motivator. When she was a baby the lack of sleep slowed me down. Our playgroup thinks about places to take our kids where they can play and we can safely watch them without having to constantly chase them.
I need glasses to read to my daughter. My legs are a little stiff when I wake up. If I don’t respond right away because of my hearing my daughter automatically repeats herself without even thinking. I am waiting for a comment from some stranger referring to her as my granddaughter. When I started going gray I began dying my hair to keep that day from coming. Having a younger child does cause me to be more conscious about looking my age. Those are the challenges of being a later life mom.
I was just at a museum with my daughter. It had exhibits from the 1750’s. She asked, “Were you alive then?” She teases my husband and me about our ages. She screams for the Jonas Brothers; I tell her about the Beatles. As she gets older and more aware, she is doing the math. It has become a warm joke among the three of us. I know I am a better parent coming into it later in life.
I’m hoping to take Grace hiking in New Zealand for my 60th birthday. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful and blessed to be a later life mom.
Iris Waichler, MSW,LCSW,is the author of the award winning Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing). Her website is infertilityrollercoaster.com. She has been a licensed clinical social worker for more than 30 years.