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Nappy days are here again

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Saturday, September 29, 2007 | 0 comments

Tamsin Kelly discovers why some families can't resist a last-chance baby
For nearly a decade Jane Brown was a contented mother of two. Then, shortly after her 40th birthday, she had what she describes as a "road to Damascus moment" and decided she wanted another child.

Now Jane, 44, and her husband Dave, 45, are parents to Alex, 15, Oliver, 12, and Dan, who's three.

"It was a very sudden change," explains Jane, a freelance arts curator from Ticknall, Derbyshire.
"We had given our baby stuff away and moved on with our lives. But it all seemed a bit predictable. After my 40th, I thought I still had it in me to go back to those childhood experiences and Dave was very easily convinced.''I'm one of three children and perhaps there was also a feeling that there should be one more in our family. One of the reasons we didn't have a third was that, at the time, I wanted to go back to work and that would have been extremely difficult with three children close together in age."
Jane's experience of a "last-chance baby" has been only positive. "I did feel more tired during my pregnancy, but most people at the antenatal clinics seemed to be about my age," she says.
"The real plus for us is that we are able to just get on and enjoy Dan, because we are more relaxed as parents. We know childhood passes all too quickly and for us it's the warmth and love of the family that you remember, not the details."Alex and Oliver love Dan to bits. They were so proud of him when he was a baby and wanted to show him off to all their friends. They can also see first hand how special a young child is to his parents. When they're full of teen angst I can say: 'You see, this is how much you were loved and still are.'?"
Family psychologist Dr Roy Bailey says that parents usually decide to have a "last chance baby" for their own personal reasons. He says:
''Having a later child may be an attempt to recreate the sense of a particular time and enjoyment in one's life and often comes with a sense of growing uneasiness about where one's life is now."
Sue Carel, 41, is quite frank about her principal reason for having a fourth child six years after their third.

"My youngest, Jules, had just started school and I wanted somebody to look after again," she says.
"I was very aware that my children were growing up and I was broody for that physical closeness that comes with having a newborn baby and then a toddler."
Sue, an accountant from Leeds, and her husband Nicolas, 47, a teacher, are now parents to Charlotte, 15, Alice, 14, Jules, 10 and Alexander, four. "I always felt there was one missing when we had three children, even though I'm one of three," she says.
"Nicolas always joked he wanted six, so he didn't need any convincing. Now I feel our family is complete."
As Sue's oldest daughters are just 13 months apart, she has been able to cherish the contrasting ease of having an age-gap child. "For me, the transition from being the mother of one to the mother of two children was far harder," she says.
"Charlotte and Alice, are not second mothers, but they've always been very eager to help look after Alexander.
"He probably does get away with more than the others did. But that could be his character. He's a total chatterbox and always keen to disagree. There are days when I feel quite exhausted at the thought of how very old I'm going to be by the time he leaves school."

Juliette Craven, 41, is adamant she didn't have her last child to re-feather an empty nest. "He's just a beautiful, much-loved baby, not a lifestyle choice," she says. There's an eight-year gap between six-month-old Flynn and his sisters Helen, 12, Phoebe, 10, and Emma, eight.

"I loved having three children under five but I know my limitations and a fourth would have sent me over the edge, not to mention what it would have done to our marriage," says Juliette, who's married to Dave, 46, a lawyer.
"But for three years Dave and I had these eternal talks about whether we should have another child. Were we pushing our luck with three healthy children already? What would the impact be on the girls? What would it be like for us? I was also surrounded by friends having their first babies. Then one evening I was telling Dave how much I envied my neighbour who'd just had a daughter, and he said, 'We both want another baby. Let's stop talking about it.'"In the first few weeks after Flynn was born, I did feel as if I'd been sledgehammered by sleep deprivation. I also thought I'd be a super-confident, toss-him-over-my-shoulder sort of mother but I'd totally forgotten the simplest things, such as how to bath a newborn or burp him. But it's amazing how quickly it all comes back.
"Flynn has brought so much joy. He's only six months old but none of us can remember what life was like before we had him."


Image: First Time Mothers, Last Chance Babies: Parenting at 35+, by Madelyn Cain. Publisher: New Horizon Press (February 25, 1994)-First Time Mothers, Last Chance Babies: Parenting at 35+
by Madelyn Cain

-- Advice and comfort for baby boomer mothers.

First-Time Mothers, Last-Chance Babies takes an extremely thoughtful look into a subject that is ignored in our society.

Her carefully written and researched book reveals the truth about the difficulty, and the rewards, of parenting later in life.

Image: Buy Now on Amazon.comPaperback: 220 pages
Click to order/for more info: First Time Mothers, Last Chance Babies



About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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