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MidAge Mom is for women who are parenting in midlife rather than celebrating the empty nest on a beach in Bali . . .

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5 Myths About Babies

Once I had a baby, I realized that a lot of what I’d heard about infants was wrong. Or at least it didn’t apply to my situation.

Here are five things they tell you about life after birth that often turn out to be untrue.

Misconceptions About Life With Baby

Nursing Takes the Fat Off.

I nursed my two girls for a year each and never lost a pound from it. Nursing made me ravenous. Early on I had to eat a full meal after doing it. I think nursing makes skinny women lose weight but not heavy ones.

Babies sleep a lot.

Before having my first child, I’d heard that babies sleep as much as 20 hours a day. I was told I’d get a lot of work done while my baby snoozed.

But I didn’t get anything done. My first child was up all the time until we “Ferberized” her when she was six months old, letting her cry it out for a few nights so she could learn to sleep on her own.

My second baby slept all the time. You never know what you’re going to get.

Babies are Angelic.

The truth is that babies can be little terrors who cry a lot. I wasn’t prepared for this. With the first, I thought I was doing something wrong. But babies cry when they’re hungry. They cry when they’re tired. They cry for attention. And they cry for no reason at all.

So if baby is wailing, don’t assume it’s your fault. She’s just acting like a baby.

Babies Make Great Travel Accessories.

I found traveling with my first child hell.

The problem is not just changing them on the plane or having them cry amidst the other passengers. The problem is all the gear you have to bring: the stroller, the car seat, the port-a-crib, the baby carrier, the diaper bag, and an extra change of clothes for the plane – just to name a few things on the packing list.

Worst of all, you have to leave behind your beloved infrastructure: the nursing chair, the diaper-changing table, the kitchen where you can find the bottles.

I’ve never been so glad to get home as after traveling with my first baby.

After having the second, I skipped the trip to Washington D.C for my husband’s law conference, which I’d accompanied him on with our first child. It was hard enough to get baby and toddler out of the house. I was happy to stay home.

Mother Knows Best.

Sometimes. But men seem to have a better sense of self-preservation than women do. Dad is often better at drawing the line; my husband was the one who insisted that we “Ferberize” our first child.

Then again, mom may need to train dad for the job. Some men only step up to the plate when their wives allow or encourage them to.

Train him to give the baby a bath. Then back off and let him do it his way.

The Bottom Line On Babies

There is the advice, there are the guide books. Then there is life with your baby.

Do the best you can, and it will all work out.

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How is life with your baby going? Share by commenting below! Or contact me at: jenniferbhull@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

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Don’t miss a post! Receive MidAge Mom free by email or RSS feed. Subscribe Here. And visit my website to receive advice, insights and announcements by subscribing to my free newsletter.

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It Could Happen to You

The big lesson from my recent experience with anxiety and depression is that they can strike anyone.

I was perfectly fine before I started to have some physical problems and then severe anxiety and depression almost four years ago. I had had two hip replacements in 2013 – big surgeries – but was recovering nicely and was proud of the progress I was making walking around the golf course.

That summer I travelled to North Carolina twice to drop off and pick up my two girls from camp and went on family trips to Colorado and California. That fall, however, my hands startied to be painful, and I had to get a dictation program called Dragon Dictate for the computer because I couldn’t type.

Then the pain spread and got worse, anxiety and depression hit, and I didn’t travel much again until last summer when, after a round of electroshock or ECT treatments, I went to Colorado with my family. Before that, I spent a lot of time in bed and was hospitalized three times.

Mental Illness Can Be Unpredictable

All of this was the last thing I was expecting. My life was and remains great; I have no reason to be anxious or depressed. I’m happily married, have two wonderful kids who are stable and doing well in school, live in a beautiful old Spanish house and am financially secure with a husband who has tenure.

I have a great nanny/housekeeper who is like family. I even have a good dog. And while my childhood included some challenges, overall I was happy.

When my problems started I was pretty together – the kind of person who is active and has lots of interests. I was in decent shape and went to the gym every day. I had published an award-winning book called  Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life. I liked working as a a writer. I was sending money every month to help support the driver who had worked for me in Nicaragua.

Who would have imagined that I would end up with pain so severe that I could barely walk, sit or drive and a mental condition so bad that I would end up in the hospital?

Recovery

I’ve been feeling like a new person, or rather my old self, since a neurologist put me Lamotrigine a month ago. A  walking EEG test had found seizure activity in my brain. Lamotrigine is for seizures but is also a mood stabilizer. I still don’t know for sure if the drug is the reason I feel better. And I have no idea why the pain suddenly disappeared last summer.

Mental illness can be mysterious.

The Stigmas

It’s easy to stigmatize people facing emotional challenges like depression and anxiety, to believe that they’ve done something wrong. But while I wasn’t perfect when my problems began,, for the most part I was doing things right.

In addition, a lot of people who deal with depression have been doing so for years making it easy to think that if you’ve got a good emotional track record you’re immune. For instance, Scott Stossel, author of the excellent book, My Age of Anxiety, has had psychological problems since he was a child.

Other people go through tough times, suffering the loss of a spouse or a close relative or a divorce, making their emotional problems seem predictable. If you’re not facing such challenges you feel pretty safe. I certainly did.

But the lesson of my experience is that life can take you by surprise and throw you a curve ball.

We need to treat mental illness like any other disease and recognize that, like cancer, it can strike anyone at any time.

I find it all hard to talk about. I have the same preconceptions and prejudices about mental illness that others have. At times I feel like my experience marks me as a weak person.

But I know better and keep putting it out there so other people can realize the truth too.

The bottom line is that every day you feel stable and every moment you are sane is a gift. Because you never know what is going to happen next.

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Do you have preconceptions about mental illness? Share by commenting below! Or contact me at: jenniferbhull@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

***

Don’t miss a post! Receive MidAge Mom free by email or RSS feed. Subscribe Here. And visit my website to receive advice, insights and announcements by subscribing to my free newsletter.

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                                                                                      Photo © Giordano Aita

Disclosure: I use some affiliate links. If you click and buy a product, I make a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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Why Older Mothers Rock

We all know the disadvantages of having kids late.

It’s harder to get pregnant and pregnancy can be tougher than if you were younger. You’re more likely to develop diabetes or high blood pressure. Your risk of chromosome abnormalities resulting in Down syndrome is also higher.

I had to do fertility treatments and had C-sections with both of my daughters, born when I was 40 and 42.

But actually being an older mom rocks. The benefits of having children over 35 or 40 are significant. The more research they do, the more they seem to find.

Consider five advantages of having kids late:

-Your children are smarter and better educated. Swedish research shows that babies born to older mothers stay in the educational system longer, are more likely to attend college and do better on standardized tests than children born to younger mothers.

-Your children are better behaved. A study done in Denmark found that children of older mothers did better emotionally, socially and behaviorally. This was because their mothers were more psychologically mature than their younger counterparts and, for one, didn’t scold their children as much. Frequent scolding has a negative effect on behavior.

-You live longer. A New England Centenarian study found that women who gave birth in their forties were four times more likely to live to 100 than women who gave birth at a younger age. Perhaps the women who had children late were just in better shape to begin with. But I can also say from experience that having children late keeps you young.

-You’re more emotionally and financially secure. By 40 you and your mate have probably established your careers and are a lot more stable than you were in your twenties.

My husband, Bill, got tenure as a law professor a few months after our first daughter was born, allowing him to share parenting in a way he would not have been able to do otherwise. By the time we had kids, I’d lived in Los Angeles, New York and Nicaragua. I’d gotten a lot out of my system and was ready to settle down in Miami, where we still live 20 years later.

-You’re less likely to experience cognitive decline. Researchers at the University of Southern California found that women have “better brainpower after menopause” if they had their last baby after age 35. Their research cited strong evidence of a “positive association between later age at last pregnancy and late-life cognition.”

That’s not to say it is easy to be an older mom. I have less energy than I would have had at a younger age. But the advantages are significant, and this is only a partial list.

I’m definitely a better parent than I would have been earlier. What about you? Share by commenting below! Or email me at: jenniferbhull@gmail.com

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                                                                                 Photo © Aledeane

Disclosure: I use some affiliate links. If you click and buy a product, I make a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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