47 year old Kelly Preston will be giving birth to a baby boy this year. After the tragic and sudden loss of their first born, 16 year old Jett, in January 2009, there is no doubt the Travolta’s new baby bundle will bring a tremendous amount of joy into their lives.
But, with Kelly in her late 40s and John well into his 50s, there is also no doubt they will have plenty of special challenges (and joys) as older parents of a newborn. Parenting is a game changer for every new parent, but becoming a new parent in your 40s and 50s has unique challenges.
Even so, as with everything in life, preparation is the key. Educating yourself with good information, preparing for the expected and the unexpected, can help make parenthood in your 40’s and older, a special and wonderful time.
Even the most fit and health conscious of those in their 40s and 50s need more rest to bounce back from a full day of work and activity than say, a 20 or 30 year old. With the round-the-clock demands of a newborn, you now have a fatigue factor so profound; exhaustion can’t begin to describe it.
If you are fortunate enough to have help with your baby in the first few weeks, by all means, schedule in plenty of naps. For you! You will need them. Or better yet, sleep when your baby sleeps, which, in the first 6 to 8 weeks, is a lot.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, keeping the baby in bed with you while you nurse (also called co-sleeping ) can enable you to catch a few more winks of shut-eye that you might not otherwise get.
The co-sleeping debate, however, is hot and heavy among pediatricians, parents and medical professionals. There have been incidents of parents rolling onto their newborn and suffocating them. If you are a heavy sleeper and fear this may be a concern for you, by all means do not do it!
But for those of us who do not fall into a deep sleep while nursing, co-sleeping and nursing definitely provides more opportunity for rest. Also, pumping your breast milk and keeping it on hand for others to feed the baby with a bottle, will also give you an opportunity for more sleep.
Whatever choice you make in the matter, the important thing is to make sure you get enough rest!
Some new moms in their 40s will face extra challenges if they also begin to enter menopause during the first few years of their new baby’s life.
To complicate the matter, post-partum hormone issues are difficult to separate from perimenopause issues. Both can cause irritability, depression, mood swings and insomnia.
So, how do you know if you’re dealing with post-partum hormone issues or perimenopause? Well, you don’t. But, if you think you might be entering perimenopause after the birth of your child, it would be wise to see a physician as soon as possible.
Hormone therapy, preferably bioidentical hormones, could be just what you need to feel your best and able to take care of your new baby.
The Grandparent Factor
If you are like me and do not color your hair, you may find yourself getting asked by strangers if your child is your grand baby. While not a serious issue, it is certainly something that comes up occasionally.
Not to mention, in all likelihood, you will be the oldest mommy helping out at your new 1st-grader’s school party or play dates. Having given birth myself, at the age of 43, I’ve been asked often if I’m enjoying my time with my 11 year old granddaughter.
Being able to laugh is always a good idea in these awkward situations. But, the good news is, as a middle-aged new parent, you will find that is much easier to do!
More Patient and Tolerant
One of the advantages of parenting a newborn and young child in your 40s and 50s is the patience factor. Most middle-aged adults tend to be far more tolerant and able to roll with the punches than their 20-something counter-parts.
This becomes invaluable if you ever find yourself with a naked toddler sliding through raspberry jam across your kitchen floor screaming, “I’m skiing!”
Enjoying the Little Things
Middle age has a way of deepening the awareness of the brevity of time. Most of us have experienced loss and grief and so very often we have an appreciation of the fleeting nature of life.
The dishes and the laundry will still be there, long after your children grow and leave the nest. But, the first smile, the first step and the first word will not.
Middle age parents know that it’s okay to stand over your baby’s crib and watch them sleep or that wiling your time a way in a rocking chair on the front porch is not being lazy.
There will always be time to run the vacuum cleaner, but there will not always be time to stare into the eyes of an infant and make goofy faces. Not to mention, it’s a lot more fun than pushing a vacuum cleaner!
It takes many years for the average person to accumulate enough wealth and income so that they feel financially stable and secure.
Middle age parents have generally been in the trenches of the workplace for 20 or 30 years or more. We may even be close to retirement age, which means we have to spend less time thinking about securing our financial future and have more time to spend playing with our children and actively participating in their lives.
It’s All Good
Parenting young children in your 40s and 50’s will definitely have its challenges. We might be slow, we might be tired and you likely won’t see us riding roller coasters with our young children.
But, all in all, middle aged parenting is good for everybody. We have the time, we have the patience, we have the money and well, what can be better than that?
“Kelly Preston and John Travolta are expecting a Boy!” August 25, 2010. People.com. August 30, 2010. http://celebritybabies.people.com/2010/08/25/kelly-preston-and-john-travolta-expecting-a-boy/
Co-Sleeping.org. August 30, 2010. http://www.cosleeping.org/
“Breastfeeding: How to Pump and Store Your Breast Milk”. August 30, 2010. Family Doctor.org. August 30, 2010. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/pregnancy/birth/828.html
“Gray Hair: How to Keep it Beautiful, Healthy & Stylish”. August 12, 2010. Associated Content. August 30, 2010. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5673866/gray_hair_how_to_keep_it_beautiful.html?cat=69
“Postpartum Depression”. August 30, 2010. Mayo Clinic.com. August 30, 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-depression/DS00546