The media led furore around older mothers, rumbles on. Tabloid headlines inferring that the rise in mothers over the age of 50 having babies was responsible for excessive pressure across the health service. The percentage increase was huge but in real terms the number of women (in the UK) giving birth into their fifth decade went up to the massive total of 154, a tiny figure as a part of the general rise in the number of births to older parents (35 and upwards).
When figures like this are published, I get approached by the press about my own experience as an older mother. My response is and has consistently been the same, that I am where I am, and that I'm extremely blessed to be the mother of a wonderful, exuberant and thriving two-year-old and that (in common with mothers everywhere) I'm doing the best I can for my daughter to ensure she has a happy childhood, and a safe and secure future.
Sometimes that's OK, but often the journalist will prod, looking for an angle, "How do you deal with the negative view of older parents?", "Did you feel judged by the medical profession?", "Are people rude to you when you breastfeed in public?", "You must have had a terribly difficult pregnancy?", "Do you have low energy levels due to your age?"and so on and so forth.
I've had words put into my mouth and angles that simply weren't a part of our journey invented.
I was approached recently to write on being an older mother for one of the broadsheets. I was encouraged to make it opinionated... controversial. My view was that there was no controversy. I took five precious hours (when I could have been doing a million and one other things), I submitted the piece, was complimented on it and told it would be published the next morning, it still hasn't appeared, and the editor isn't responding to emails.
A straightforward, good news story wasn't what was wanted. Which is a shame really, as a bit of good news never did anybody any harm and often inspires or helps others (if the 'feedback' I've received is to be believed).
So, to set the record straight, and because lists seem to be as popular as selfies, here are my 10 tips on what not to say to the news editor when you want your piece on being an older parent to appear in the national press.
1 - I haven't experienced any unpleasant comments about being an older mother...
But I was once asked if I was 'the nanny'.
2 - I had my daughter when I did because that's just how it worked out...
I'd always imagined I'd have a child in my early 30s, it didn't happen due to a huge number of factors including miscarriage and bereavement. Having a child later in life isn't something most older mothers planned on doing when they were younger.
3 - I've not found other mothers judgemental or unfriendly
Something incredible has been the way I've felt that having a baby has 'given me' other women, I've relished getting to know other mothers, and have made many friends. Ultimately we all share the same joys and insecurities concerning our children.
4 - I didn't wait to have my daughter in my late 40s because of my high flying career
Ha ha ha ha ha... and see the answer to two and note that I am currently a hard working self employed mother of one.
5 - I enjoy every day as a mother, and sure I get tired from time to time, but so do all mothers of toddlers
Last night she was awake from 4.30 - 7am chatting, she's getting to the "Why?" stage. Today I'm tired, it comes with the territory. A few years back I'd have been tired after a night out clubbing, only difference is no lie in now. This doesn't stop us running, climbing, sliding and playing together, the morning-after-the-night-before hangover might have done!
6 - I had a pretty straightforward pregnancy (so I'm told by the doctors)
The issues I faced were to do with external factors such being involved in a taxi accident and being exposed to shingles. Compared to the complexities and health issues many mothers I've got to know experienced, we were lucky ... only a day or two of swollen ankles and no gestational diabetes nor high blood pressure. I worked hard at it with exercise and a controlled diet.
7- Nobody has ever said anything nasty to me about breastfeeding in public
Quite the opposite, I've been offered glasses of water, pieces of cake, comfy chairs and complimented for 'sticking with it'.
8 - Medical staff were unfailingly supportive
They were pragmatic early on as to the higher levels of risk for an older woman and were kind, supportive and encouraging throughout the pregnancy and birth. At my follow up appointment my consultant asked if I was planning another pregnancy, I asked if she thought it a good idea and she said, "there's no reason why not".
9 - I didn't have a child to ensure that I am looked after in my old age
She may well end up living on the opposite side of the world, who knows, that's entirely up to her. She has her own life to lead.
10 - Every woman has her own story, her own issues and her own journey as regards motherhood.
So don't be quick to judge or generalise.
So, there you have it, our good news; older mother has child and nobody bats an eyelid shocker!
Photo: Paul Clarke Photography
This is adapted from a piece originally published on Mush Brained Ramblings, Ellie Stoneley's personal blog.