When I announced that I was pregnant, my mother wasn’t excited, she wasn’t even pleased. My Dad was dismissive, ‘women have been getting pregnant for thousands of years’ with rolled eyes. They had no time for NHS eating guidelines and treated me like I was being some kind of precious princess because obviously other mothers wouldn’t be following them. My mother told me to my face that she was worried because I’m so old.

I admit it, I’m 36. My reason for waiting was that I was incredibly unhappy and stressed out by my old job. I was on beta blockers in my late twenties and was signed off for stress for two months leading up to and just following my wedding. I tried to find a new job but at my salary level, in a recession, that was proving impossible.

I didn’t want to bring a little life into my misery. I didn’t want to find myself trapped on that path and resenting that little life. The situation was unhealthy and I wanted it to change before I had a baby. Even my mother in law, who had her first at nineteen, understands that. She doesn’t think I could even have conceived back when I was first married. I can only imagine how going to the doctor for fertility treatment would have impacted on my already high stress levels, not to mention my already high blood pressure.

But my mum can’t see it and it’s taken me six months of pregnancy to drag out of her why she’s being so difficult. It relates to my grandmother. My grandparents delayed having children due to the Second World War and when my mother was eventually born my grandmother was 36. She didn’t have an easy time of it though, she miscarried one and lost another due to cot death, my mother was her only successful pregnancy. I think she brought my mother up believing that she was a miracle and probably put a lot of pressure on Mum to make a baby as soon as possible after marriage. My Mum gave birth to me when she was 31. Also an old age in the 1970s. Although I’m healthy, I had wrapped the umbilical chord around my neck and Mum had to have an emergency caesarean after a long labour. That had nothing to do with her age, but they lay maternal age on thick, add to that the fact that they were very worried about developmental delays in Caesarian born children at the time and the stage is set.

My perspective on pregnancy has always been that I would know when I was ready. I knew that 35 was considered to be some magic cutoff but research told me that that was because the average woman has her menopause at 50. My maternal grandmother finally stopped bleeding at 63 and my mother looked to be on the same course when she had a hysterectomy at 54. I figured I had a bit more time than the average and I felt like my body was capable. I was more fit and active at 35 than my mother was at 30. I could do this.

The trouble is that pregnancy makes you anxious. You worry about everything and it really doesn’t take much to erode your confidence. The media and the Internet have eroded mine. Older mother’s are frequently under attack and every new development in research which suggests something terrifying is banded across the newspapers before it’s even been duplicated. Iron deficiency is linked to autism, consumption of food sources wrapped in plastic leads to birth defects, you should be scared about pesticides and on it goes. The last thing I need is an unsupportive mother because she’s scared herself half to death.

I have tried to explain that her worrying only makes me worry and that me worrying is not good for the baby but she’s always been negative and she won’t stop now. I find myself terrified of the doleful looks and ‘I told you so’ grimaces if, God forbid, anything does go wrong.

The moral of this story is, please try to be supportive of the pregnant women around you. Discuss your fears and get them off your chest before you inflict them on her. She has more than enough to worry about on her own and she does not need your help. Seriously. If you really think it’s that important to discuss your fears with the mummy to be herself,  do it kindly and give her time to give you her perspective and be open the possibility of being soothed.

No one benefits from stressed and anxious mothers to be.

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