Pregnant, 40 and terrified
I’m 40 years old and just discovered I’m pregnant. My husband and I have been trying for years, so I should be thrilled. But in that time, I’ve changed my mind — and it didn’t hit me until I got the positive result. I’m afraid to talk to my husband, because I know how much he wants a kid. And I admit I’m enjoying the freedom of childlessness, like traveling and vacations. Finances are also tight. And to even think about breastfeeding, staying up all night and saving for college is giving me panic attacks. Yet I know at my age this might be my last chance to have a baby. Advice?
Sometimes the chase is more fulfilling than the actual accomplishment — and this is also true with pregnancies. However, in your situation, anxiety and fear are clouding your once-clear view of a life with a child. This is quite normal, so don’t fret.
Change how you think about pregnancy. It’s not a death sentence to activities you once enjoyed, nor does it mean that you’re trapped at home for the next 18 years. It simply changes things. Millions of people who have kids travel and take business trips. You can, too. Talk to friends and family who have kids to learn how they do it.
Realize that your fears are based more on falsehood than on fact. Do research to find out the actual cost of raising a child and then work out a practical plan with your husband to handle the added expenses. If you come up short, then perhaps explore support from friends and family and look into money-saving cuts in your current lifestyle.
Think long-term. When you think of life five, 10 or even 20 years down the road, how do you envision it? If you didn’t have fears about pregnancies, how would you feel about raising a child? What role do you see kids playing in your life? Make a pros/cons list and see how things add up.
Share your concerns with your husband, as he might be feeling the same. Most first-time parents feel at least some anxiety and even doubt. You have an enthusiastic partner as you approach this next phase of your life, so talk to him and tap into him for support.
Finally, be aware that more people regret not having kids than having kids. I’m sure you’ll be no exception.
–Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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