East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 01, 2017, WEEKEND EDITION, Page 5, Image 37

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    April 2017 - EASTERN OREGON PARENT - 5
Mature moms offer insight on later-in-life parenting
By VIRGINIA JUSTICE
Geriatric, older, advanced mater-
nal age, elderly — these terms con-
jure thoughts of, well, grandparents
in a nursing home. In reality, these
terms are all used to describe preg-
nant women over the age of 30.
If society views “older moms” in a
different light are theses terms war-
ranted? Are the risks to moms over
30 or 35 any greater than those for
younger mothers? To learn the pros
and cons of being an older parent,
we asked some Eastern Oregon
mothers, 35 and up, to share their
experiences.
Pregnancies vary between
women; however, those conceiv-
ing after 35 typically experience
increased testing and monitoring
by doctors. According to the March
of Dimes, women over 35 are more
likely to have complications such as
premature birth, gestational diabe-
tes, high blood pressure, increased
incidence of birth defects and
births of multiples. It’s important to
note that many of these complica-
tions are also of concern in younger
mothers. So is being an older mom
a detriment?
Of the 11 women interviewed,
three had some issues that doctors
attributed to age — one mother
became pregnant with twins. Seven
women had full-term pregnancies
without complications and one
mom, Marie Hancock of Pendleton,
is eight weeks along, doing very
well, and no problems are antici-
pated with her pregnancy. Nearly
all indicated that their doctors
monitored their pregnancies more
and in a few instances suggested
additional testing. Delores Doherty
McLaren, who gave birth at 38,
recalls, “The doctor wanted to do
an amniocentesis, I said no. With
a previous pregnancy five years
earlier it was not offered.”
According to the American
Diabetes Association, incidence
of gestational diabetes increases
with age, particularly in those
greater appreciation for even the
not-so-pleasant parts of parenting.”
Peggy LaVallee Ruiz of Pendle-
ton, who had twins after age 35,
was placed on bed rest at 22 weeks
and was flown by Life Flight to Port-
35 and over, though this is treat-
able and typically disappears after
delivery. Birth defects, which can
be broadly defined, are also age-
related, but incidence remains low.
For instance, in mothers aged 25,
Down Syndrome occurs about once
every 1,200 births; at 35, that rate is
around 1 in 300.
Many local women have had
children after 35, though several
began families in their 20s. Almost
all said that being older had a few
challenges but also many positives.
The most frequent concern for
older parents was fatigue, knowing
their energy level was not that of
a 20-something. Rita Marquez of
Pendleton says raising a child after
age 35 is tiring, just as it is for any
new mom. “But I feel that you have
a better outlook on it and more
patience because, through life,
other stressors and life experiences
give the tools to cope easier with
the situation. And for me, I have a
land at 31 weeks. The twins were
born five weeks early and one has
been diagnosed with Asperger’s, a
form of autism. Peggy notes, “I had
[previously] experienced full-term
births. ... I think I would have been
pretty freaked out about the pree-
mie issues and the autism if they
had been my first babies.”
None of the moms I talked with
expressed regret about having a
child after age 35. Several noted
they are more relaxed and, as Rita
Marquez observes, older parents
have their priorities better lined
up than younger moms, who may
still be growing up while raising a
family.
Ree Adams Doherty thinks each
age has its benefits. She’s more
financially secure now but hangs
out less with friends. Amy Wetherill
Word expresses concern that she
may not be as much fun, but notes,
“I am probably calmer than I was.
I’ve learned to take the time to
Strategies
evaluate the situation and not get
worked up about it.”
Many of these older moms also
indicated that due to their age they
feel like better parents because
they stress manners, respect and
other things that create productive
citizens. Most felt this was due to
being from a different generation.
Asked if they felt their children
benefit from their maturity the re-
sounding answer was yes, although
some pointed out social stigmas.
Jennifer Rowden of Hermiston
says her older children were teens
and early twenties when her last
child was born and sometimes get
embarrassed when people assume
her youngest belongs to one of
them. Tami Shaffer-Pelles feels her
son does benefit — except when
other parents mistake us for his
grandparents, she laughs. Lorie
Phillips Case says she also used to
get the “grandma or mom?” in-
quiry. “I was at Walmart when the
greeter asked me this question. I
went directly to the hair dye sec-
tion and my husband helped me
dye my gray hair that evening.”
The decision to have a child,
regardless of age, is a very personal
one. Society may have some issues
with women perceived as older
having children. But the moms I
interviewed were happy with their
choice.
________
Home economist Virginia Justice
holds an education degree. The
Pendleton resident and her husband
have two college-aged daughters.