Maria’s Story

I am Maria. I am 50. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter and a sister. I am also a nurse in the NHS – as I have been for nearly 33 years now.

I became a mother at 47. It was a miracle of sorts but not the natural sort. She was born via a donor egg and IVF. The miracle was that it worked, and we got a little girl. She is three years old and she is ace. Honest to god, she is a scream and so much fun. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she can drive me bonkers, but l can handle it. I see all the emotion that overwhelms her at times and she just does not know what to do with it. I love her stubbornness and her absolute determination to do something. Even while being driven bonkers, I admire her.

There is so much joy in seeing her love life and get such unadulterated pleasure from the smallest of things like picking a daisy, sliding down a slide, running while l am chasing her, helping bake banana muffins and scoffing them, playing with her Barbies. (My sister got her Barbie vet which helps me cope with her adoration of these dolls). She never ever tires of watching ‘Stickman’ or ‘Frozen’ and loves her bedtime stories – four is always the minimum.

She makes me enjoy life differently. l don’t want to sound evangelical about motherhood. I know a woman is more than her uterus and motherhood is not the be all and end all. I just love and like this kid to bits. She makes my day even when she is grumpy, or l am grumpy! I am no perfect mother. I just want to be the best l can. She deserves this.

She makes me enjoy life differently. I just love and like this kid to bits

My girl will have to contend with having a much older mother and come to terms with her conception. I will be honest with her and keep no secrets. It is about finding the right time and words/pictures to explain. All l will continue to say to her is that she was so wanted and yearned for and her existence is the best thing that ever happened to her dad and l. We look at each other sometimes when she is making us smile unintentionally, “I want to do that by my own self”. Yesterday, for pancake day, she filled her pancakes with chocolate chips and marshmallows and l know we both still cannot always believe she is here, in front of us, changing our lives. I know that l sometimes want to pinch myself.

I thought l would never have a child because by my late thirties, l still hadn’t met anyone to start a family with and then when I did meet someone, I wasn’t able to conceive naturally. I built up a resilience of sorts, l suspect. l was always happy for friends and families who got pregnant but there was always a pang, a sadness that did not define me but was there nonetheless.

I thought I would never have a child. I built up a resilience of sorts, I suspect…

I suppose l don’t take my girl for granted. I know how lucky l am to have her. During my pregnancy, from the first moment l saw that blue line until she was born, l worried every minute of the day and night! I was quite stressed during my pregnancy. I always thought l would lose her. I think deep down l believed l did not deserve to have her. I did have blissful moments during my pregnancy and there are photos to prove it. My husband always says l virtually screamed at the midwife to give me my daughter after she was born. l had allowed the health care professionals to direct every aspect of my labour because l was an older mother and l wanted to do the best for my daughter and agreed to all their advice, but in my mind she was making me wait too long to see my daughter. I felt l had waited long enough. In fact, all the poor midwife was doing was getting my husband to cut the cord…

I know it is important to let my girl grow and become independent and resilient. To live her life and enjoy all that will and can be hers without worry or fear about her aging parents when she will still be so young.

I had this wonderful moment on a bus in Chelsea during my maternity leave. We were heading to a museum when an elderly lady sitting next to me who was quite well-to-do asked how old l was. My daughter was sitting on my lap. I clearly looked my age for her to be asking and it made me laugh – her honesty or impertinence, whichever way you take it. I told her l was 47 or 48 – whichever l was at the time – and she told me her mother had been 47 when she had had her during the Second World War. She was an only child and told me her mother had never made her stop living her life. She had encouraged her to travel and live abroad and never to worry about her parents and feel she should be responsible for looking after them. This elderly lady was giving me a major life lesson on the number 14 bus! She was so frank and honest. I admired her and I was grateful to her for telling me she was okay after having a mother who was 47 when she had her. It made me feel better about my decision to have a child at this age. I do still feel guilty about it and know it was a selfish act. The good thing is that having a child at 47 makes you want to be young and allows you to feel young. I am determined to keep young at heart and try with all my might to look younger…

In regards my daughter’s journey to life that began with a donor egg. I always take comfort with an Oprah Winfrey quote: “Biology is the least of what makes a mother”.

Here’s hoping my daughter and l will be ok.

Here’s to a Happy Women’s History Month.