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I didn’t expect to be 40 and pregnant. But here I am, turning 40 this month with a baby growing inside me.

Sometimes I think I have no business having a baby at this age. Then I wonder, why the heck shouldn’t I have a baby at 40? What’s so bad about it? Is it because I’m tired? Because I have more wrinkles dancing around my eyes when I laugh or smile? Is the truth that I don’t have enough energy for my children, that they deserve more, and that more is a younger mother?

I see us everywhere—older moms who are worn in and worn out and worn down. I see the strands of gray and white tangled in our hair, our skin sagging a little and showing signs of our age. I see the fatigue in our movements that we feel deep in our bones and hear our tired voices emerging from tired bodies. But I see something else in us: gratitude and appreciation. We are some of the lucky ones. We were able to have babies; we created people. We get to be mothers, even at 40.

RELATED: Why Having a Baby after 35 is So Great

There are pros and cons to being a young mother, a mid-mother, and an older mother. My husband is glad we waited to have babies and often points out all that we did before having kids. I know he’s right, and I know it doesn’t matter because there’s no turning back. But I think about it sometimes and imagine my life as a younger mother. What would have been different if I’d had my babies younger, say in my 20s? Would I have been energetic? Would my body have bounced back better, more easily? Or would I have resented being a younger mother and sacrificing while my friends and colleagues were still kid-free? I’ll never know.

I could have had my babies before 30 and been ravaged by cancer and died like my brother’s dear friend last year. I could have been a young mother who lost her husband to a lethal pulmonary embolism and been widowed before my children were 5. We have little to no control over how long we get to walk this earth with those we love, so we should hold our people tight, let go, and look forward instead of back. I didn’t have my babies in my 20s. That isn’t my story, so there’s no sense romanticizing it or wondering what could have been.

My story is I am an older C-section mama of daughters. I had my first baby at 34, my second at 35, my third at 38, and my fourth will be at 40. By definition, I have been advanced maternal age for all my babies except the first. As a C-section mama, I’ve faced longer recoveries than some of my friends, but I’ve been able to return to my normal physical activity, even after three surgeries. Like I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. For the first time, I’ve realized I’m learning to love my story. I’m a mom to three, soon-to-be four, daughters I love fiercely and totally.

RELATED: Dear C-Section Mom, You Are a Warrior

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I look darn good for my age, and sometimes I look in the mirror and want to weep. Being 40 and pregnant can be tough physically and mentally, and sometimes those collide and hit me in waves of anxiety and sadness. But I’m working hard to shift that focus, to appreciate this gift. Lately, I’ve stood in front of the mirror stark naked and marveled at my pregnant body, my baby bump obvious but not yet uncomfortable. How marvelous it is to grow life. I’ve lived in this body for 40 years and it’s grown four children. This body is part of my story, and I’m growing to love it too.

Am I an older mom? You bet I am, and I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds. Soon, I’ll have my final baby in my arms, and I won’t care for one second how old I am when she takes her first breath.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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