When Sally King discovered she was pregnant for the fifth time at 44, a happy surprise was the only way she could think to describe the experience! Here she tells us about giving birth all over again.
So you hadn't planned to become pregnant at 44?
No - not exactly! I already have four children and I thought that was my lot. Needless to say, it was a surprise when I found out. A very happy, but totally unexpected, surprise.
What made you suspect you were pregnant?
If I'm honest, I thought I had a virus. You would think I'd recognise the symptoms after four babies, but no - I thought I had stomach bug and an ear infection!
Why was that?
I feel very sea sick so I honestly thought I'd picked something up from my children. Then the nausea kicked in...and then I started to wonder....
Once you realised you were pregnant, how did you feel?
Happy, but nervous. I needed to make sure the baby was OK before I got too excited because all you hear is negativity about how the baby could be affected due to your age. So I tried not to get too excited. But the tests came back clear and from that moment I was excited.
How was the pregnancy?
Surprisingly, it was fine. I thought my age would be a real issue but, other than the usual sickness and lethargy that most people get, I wouldn't say I suffered. My biggest concern throughout the pregnancy was finding other older mums to talk to. But I went online and found some older mum groups and forums and quickly realised there's quite a few of us out there. Another happy surprise!
Did you have a birth plan?
Not really - I'd c-sections with my last two babies so I knew I was going to have to have another one with this baby. I had mixed feelings about this as I would have liked to have given birth naturally, but I knew that the old scars combined with my age were probably going to end up causing me a problem, so I accepted I needed the caesarean. Although I was wondering if the caesarean techniques had moved on with time!
When did you have the caesarean?
My one request was that that baby stayed inside me for as long as possible. I didn't want her out any earlier than was necessary as I think every day inside the womb is a bonus. So in the end we agreed to perform the c-section on my due date. So, not too early, not too late. I was happy with that, as was my obstetrician and midwife.
Were you nervous?
Yes, I was. A c-section is a strange thing as one minute you are pregnant - and the next you're not! You're literally minutes away from meeting this new little person, as opposed to hours away with a normal labour.
And had the techniques changed?!
No, not really. A caesarean is what it is in my opinion! But it all went smoothly. They numbed me from the waist down and my partner came into the theatre, as he had with the previous two c-sections. It was all very familiar and the memories came flooding back! Every step of the procedure was explained to me as we went along and then - all of a sudden - I heard an almighty scream and my daughter was born.
What happened next?
Olivia was wrapped up and given to me. My fifth child. And, as with all the others, my heart melted when I saw her. All those emotions that I had felt on the previous four occasions came flooding back and I felt like I was in my 30s again! It was just absolutely wonderful and a totally amazing experience - even for the fifth time. I don't think a mother can ever overcome the emotion of that first meeting, no matter how many times she gives birth. It's just beautiful.
Any regrets over being an older mum?
Absolutely none at all. My fourth child Hannah is only five so there's not too much of a gap between her and Olivia. And, anyway, who cares about age when you have love?