What I Learned With a 20-Year Gap Between Pregnancies

Yep, you read that right.

TWENTY years between pregnancies (nodding).

What I Learned With a 20-Year Gap Between Pregnancies

And it's not like I'm all that unusual. In my many travels – both online and analog – I have met women with a decade-long gap between pregnancies, or two...and one woman even had a 22-year-old, a grandchild, and a baby bump due to be finished cooking in six weeks.

But on the whole, most of the time when I tell people I have children a generation apart, I get that raised-eyebrow look...and a lot of questions.

I admit it was quite a journey to be pregnant the first time to the tune of A Flock of Seagulls, and the second time watching those tunes on Youtube as “retro” or “oldschool.”

But honestly? I wouldn't change a thing. I knew when I was ready for my first child. And I knew when I was ready for my second. Today, we have such choices, still often with raised eyebrows but with acceptance of offshoots of the traditional nuclear family trajectory growing every day.

At the same time, I did encounter a few bumps – see what I did there? – along the way. Here's what happened, how I screwed up occasionally, and what I learned during this fascinating and very rewarding experience – in comparison format, just for fun! (P.s. Don't judge – and do it your way. I promise I won't say a thing.)

Last Time: I was naturally peppy, energetic and got in lots of walking, at least once I got past the “I could nap while driving” stage).

This Time: I had to push myself...but I found energy in there somewhere and expressed it, and yes, I felt every bit as healthy in the long run as I had two decades earlier.

Last Time: I listened with open-childlike-eyed, eager interest to the advice of those who had done all this before me, and had knowledge I did not yet myself possess. They had earned my attention and I owed them at least taking a stab at what they were advising.

This Time: I told everyone to blow me and did what I felt was right.

Last Time: I “fed my cravings” (and gained 70 lbs.).

This Time: I watched what I ate. And gained 70 lbs. (Oops.)

Last Time: I lost my courage in the hospital and allowed unmoderated (full-dosage) Pitocin to ravage my uterus and my morale.

This Time: I avoided the whole Pit thing by waiting until I was 8.5 centimeters dilated to go to the hospital, then begged for drugs at the last minute (nope, I didn't get them...and I don't regret it).

Last Time: I didn't smoke, and sat at least a few feet away from smokers.

This Time: Left the building if I detected smoke in any form. Yep. I was THAT pregnant lady. The annoying one. And I don't regret this either.

Last Time: I whined about “horse pills” (prenatal vitamins). I whined about having to work during pregnancy. I whined about how nobody truly appreciated what I was going through.

This Time: I whined a little less on the outside and had my own pity-parties in private. Yup...you'll need them. Guaranteed. And then you'll pick yourself up, and you'll move on.

Last Time: I was frightened of, and disappointed by, aches and pains – none of which I was supposed to possess, being an evolved woman who “didn't treat pregnancy as an illness.”

This Time: I treated pregnancy as an illness. Feet up, get me ice cream, have a nice day. (Sue me.)

Last Time: I read constantly about all things pregnancy and delivery.

This time: I read constantly about all things pregnancy and delivery, but I Googled all that stuff too.

Last Time: I worried about stretch marks.

This Time: I worried about age spots.

Last Time: It was funny...and worrisome...and creative...and beautiful.

This Time: It was funny...and worrisome...and creative...and beautiful.

And Now, For Something a Bit More Practical

With all that duly noted, there are a few things you may encounter with a longer pregnancy gap. Yes, there are real concerns (and they’re not always as saucy and hilarious as the above).

1. People may stare. Particularly if you (gasp!) look your age, you may get questions and even, occasionally, passive-aggressive style critiques. (What I encountered most was a wide-eyed “You’re so brave to put a child into this world knowing the risks to children born to older mothers!”) Have faith that this mindset is changing, albeit slowly. Be a part of the re-education of society in this regard. “Actually, I’m 47. And I’m THRILLED to be having a new little one.” Add “I did some research and the risks are actually lower than X in the general population.” Act natural and within your own comfort level, answer questions. Nothing ever changes for the better until people SEE the positive results of that change.

2. You may feel differently from the last time. I touched on this above, but moms, the struggle is real, at least for some of us. I was completely shocked that I wasn’t bounding out of bed in the mornings the second time around (I asked my husband if we could by one of those harnesses they used to lift whales from the ocean for this very purpose). I was also pretty darned surprised by the appearance of morning sickness; never expected that. Each pregnancy can be different no matter how large or small a gap there is between them, but unless you got started on your family very young, you may feel more tired and struggle with more issues physically this time around. Know this in advance and plan for rest time – and do ask for help from loved ones.

3. The “treatment” of pregnancy may have changed since the last time – actually, let’s change that to: it’s probably changed. We learn more about pregnancy and childbirth every day. Science changes constantly on the subject. So does the type of support we get. Take advantage of a great, supportive online or realtime meetup community), stay informed and read, read, read.

4. You’re allowed to be sexy this time. This is an evolution, so perhaps you were allowed to be sexy last time, too. I wasn’t. Giant voluminous Peter Pan-collar stuff was still in for pregnancies when I had my first little one. Next time around, women were showing off baby bumps like crazy, revealing a little cleavage, and just generally reveling. Go for it!

5. Eat well; sleep well. Whether or not you felt like Wonder Woman the first time around, this is your second pregnancy, and a surprising number of women start off subsequent pregnancies depleted in various areas. Take care of yourself – not just for your baby and your other child, but for you. Most of all, enjoy the process. Whether you feel like garbage, like a queen, or somewhere in between, remember each moment. Journal; take pics. Start a pregnancy blog. Be in the process as much as you can so you can look back and, yes…perhaps even consider going for Round Three.

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