Sharon Lowe is a business director. She lives in Shrewsbury with husband Simon, who works in robotics and their two children, Charlie, six and Georgia, four. Like Meghan Markle, who this week announced her pregnancy at the age of 37, Sharon conceived her first child in her late thirties, too. Here, she explains why it’s the best decision she’s ever made.
Having children wasn’t even on my radar until I hit my mid-thirties. I’d seen all the scary headlines saying that career women like me might miss out on motherhood if we left it too late. But Simon and I were enjoying our lives too much to think about having children.
We met when we were 23 and married in 2004. We both had well-paid jobs. I was Head of Performance Management for a company and Simon works in robotic technology. We ate out regularly and enjoyed several holidays a year, which took us around the globe. We bought our own four bedroom house and had a car each. I love riding and owned two horses. I simply wasn’t ready to give all that up for children.
But, by the time Simon and I hit our mid-thirties, we began to think: ‘It’s now or never’. Many of our friends had children in their twenties or were happy to remain child-free. We didn’t know anyone who had struggled to conceive but at the back of my mind, was a lingering worry that it could take several years of trying, the pregnancy might be hard and there was also the added worry that if we left it too long, the children might have health problems.
However, within two months of trying, I saw the positive line on the pregnancy test and went into shock. I really didn’t think it would be that easy. After all, the news stories always say it could take years. I felt a mixture of nerves, excitement but I was also scared. Although Simon and I were mature enough and stable enough to bring a baby into the world, how was this going to really impact on our life together? That was my biggest worry.
I sailed through the pregnancy, loved eating lots of chocolate and the doctors and midwives certainly never mentioned my age. At NCT classes, there were a lot of younger mums but also a few of my own age so I didn’t feel too unusual.
I was induced on my 38th birthday as Charlie was two weeks late. I remember eating birthday cake and strawberries as I was given the induction drugs. But the birth was horrendous. I was in labour for 36 hours, it was a forceps delivery and I was so bruised and battered I ended up being in hospital for two weeks. Charlie came out grey because he wasn’t breathing and was in high dependency for a few days and an incubator because he was jaundiced. It was absolutely terrifying and I wonder if I’d been younger, would it have been easier? I’ll never know.
But we fell in love with him from the moment I saw him. I can’t describe the overwhelming love we feel for both of our children and after bringing them home, I knew that nothing else mattered apart from looking after them. Being an older mum makes a difference in that respect. I’d achieved all I wanted to be in my career. I had nothing left to prove. Before the birth, I always assumed I’d go back to my career but afterwards, it felt less important. Simon still had a well-paid job and I was happy to make financial sacrifices such as holidays and horses if it meant spending more time with Charlie and later Georgia. I didn’t think twice about giving up much of my social life either. I’d been out for meals and clubbing a million times in my twenties and early thirties so didn’t feel I was missing out anymore.
Having a second baby two years later was a natural decision and we were lucky to get pregnant quickly again with Georgia. But the lack of energy you experience in your 40s is definitely one of the cons of being an older mum. Both my children were terrible sleepers and we ended up seeking advice from a sleep clinic for both of them. I was exhausted but you get through it.
When Charlie was about two, he inspired me to start my own business – a product called a RascalPack – a combination of a child’s rucksack and a reflective vest featuring Bobby the Bus. As a new parent, I had a new appreciation of products that were fun, useful, practical, highlighted safety and was not just another toy to go in a cupboard. Had I been in my twenties, I’d never have had the idea, the confidence, the tenacity or the willpower to go from full-time-mother to launching my own business. At 28, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to begin but I had enough experience to know how to research the markets and approach potential clients; one of my first customers was Ryman. I felt I needed something to stimulate my brain but something that could work around the children. This was perfect.
My life is now 100 per cent different from what it was before children. I no longer have horses. We don’t have nearly as many holidays. I rarely go out unless it’s to watch my children play rugby. But I’ve never regretted it for a moment. Getting pregnant at 37, might not be for every woman but it was the right decision for me.