Two things. Firstly, I’m 40. (Cue screaming, tearing of hair and general hysteria.) On top of which, as you may or may not know, I’m also pregnant. (Cue my P45.)
Secondly, I can’t bear it when people say, “in this day and age” as it goes hand in hand with one of these three things:
- Something about “common courtesy” – ie, you’re all rude and need a haircut, and that’s because it’s 2014 and not 1954.
- Being held up on the phone or in a queue – ie, things were a darn sight faster in 1954, mark my words. No shilly-shallying, I imagine. Shilly-shallying is a very modern concern.
- Something derogatory about women, usually clothing-related – ie, in 1954 we all wore sackcloth down to our toes and STILL got husbands when we were 14.
However, to neatly segue these two things together, I need to press on.
In this day and age, I would have expected more positive role models for women having babies later in life, but there bloody well aren’t. There are lots of people (Lauren Laverne, this is all your fault) who are keen on saying that they had babies early and aren’t they clever to have done so, but there aren’t many speaking from the other side of the fence. It’s pitiful if the only poster-woman we have for our growing concern is Claire Sweeney. I mean, I’m not sure if an early career in Brookside followed by years in the wilderness, and topped off by far too long on Loose Women is really the example I want to follow. Although I wouldn’t have minded a night on the tiles with Jimmy (in his pretend-teacher, Guardian-reading year, obvs).
I was thinking about this last night when – as I had the house to myself albeit for a small person who woke up every half hour to say “Car!” and then fell asleep again – I decided to catch up on a couple of episodes of One Born Every Minute (aka Pregnancy Crack – or possibly Ketamine, which I believe is more fashionable these days).
It occurs to me that in all the episodes I’ve watched (which are legion, frankly), I’ve only ever seen two captions come up saying that the woman concerned is 40. The first time, it was for a rather glamorous-looking woman who was driving a car at the time (I mention both these facts as, for me, they are incredible feats of attainment by themselves, but being glamorous AND driving together is an impossible fantasy of epic Neverending Story proportions. I digress). So, the caption read something like, “Emma, aged 40”. And she chatted away, saying something like, “Well, I didn’t expect it to happen to me. Not at this age.” And there I was on the sofa, cheering through a mouthful of chocolate digestives (this was in March, some time before the move to Bourbons). Oh bloody hurrah, someone else is doing it, I thought. And then it turned out that she wasn’t pregnant – she was about to become a grandmother. The INDIGNITY.
And then there was the second one. Someone should have warned me about her, considering this episode aired about three weeks ago. Now, I’m not one for being a snob, or making snide remarks about other people’s looks, that’s not me at all. Nope. Let’s just say she looked the wrong end of 60 and leave it at that. We might also mention that she was giving birth to her SIXTH CHILD and that she looked as though every minute of every birth had been etched on to her face with the business end of a pair of forceps. We could also say that she had named her children in alphabetical order. We could do all of those things, but we shan’t, as we’re not horrible people. And I’m not sure how I’ve managed to become plural in all of that, but let’s put it down to guilt and a way of trying to alleviate the blame for our snobbishness.
Needless to say, I think I’m the only (sane) person on the whole entire planet who is pregnant at 40. Being pregnant is a weird thing, a strange state of existence. You can’t socialise like you used to, you need to eat more, drink less, sleep more. Un-pregnant friends of either sex can find you incredibly boring if all you do is talk about anterior placentas, it turns out. So for a while, it can be really quite lonely. And being pregnant at 40 highlights that feeling – or at least it does for me.
For while I know a few people who are also knocked up, there’s something about being over this particular hill that sets me apart and makes me different. Being middle-aged with a baby on the way puts me in a very small club and one in which I, currently, don’t know any other members. It’s not just about remembering when Top Of The Pops used to be good (1982) – although that’s incredibly important – it’s about thinking about how long I’ll have with Baby 2 (which I don’t think you necessarily think about when you’re 39, even), and it’s about suffering other agey symptoms along with the pregnancy ones (of which I’d go in to detail were it not for the fact that my parentheses spiralled out of control about three paragraphs back).
It’s also about realising that my mum had me when she was 30, and in the 70s I thought she was bonkers old – so what will the two Teds think of me at the school gates as I claw for them with one of my scaly, arthritic paws while clinging on to a packet of Tena Lady with the other?
It’s as if I’m really going though some sort of deep crisis, isn’t it? But if I’m honest, the whole point of this article is justifying the eyebrow tint I’ve got booked in next week. And I think I’ve managed that admirably. Next week: Oh My God I’m Enormous I Look Awful In Everything (subtext: shoes might help the situation).
*It isn’t. It’s just me. It’s the new, er, unpopular thing.