Days before my birthday, I met a woman at a party who told me that 40 was a magic number–when one reaches enlightenment and truly feels grown-up. I smiled but doubted I would share the same experience. My life didn’t change at the stroke of midnight when I celebrated the milestone. But five months later, my world turned upside down. During a routine visit to my gynecologist, the nurse entered the room and announced, Ms. Brown, you’re pregnant. Being 40 and pregnant was not the magic I was expecting. 

Five lessons I learned being 40 and pregnantBeing 40 And Pregnant

I wish I could say I was immediately overjoyed when I heard her words. But I didn’t do a cartwheel off the exam table. I sat silently as these feelings suffocated me: fear, sadness, hope, anxiety, and the tiniest bit of excitement. Part of me was petrified. I miscarried just two short years beforehand. The other part of me screamed, “You’re 40, for Pete’s sake! You’re too old!” I mentally combed through the list of all the problems that could come with what the hospital labeled a “geriatric” pregnancy.   

I thought about all the over 40 first-time moms: Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mariah Carey. Then it hit me–I was neither a movie star nor a pop singer, and I couldn’t afford a nanny or an army of helpers. My family lived five hours and a whole state away. And even though I definitely had more physical resources at my disposal than I would have had at 20 (more income, my own home), I could only think of the resources that were missing (patience, energy, a 20-year-old body). I believe at 40. I was better prepared than I would have in my 20s. I was a “young 20”, still in school and dependent on my mother. Bringing a child into that setting as a single mom would have been difficult.  

Despite my doubts and fears, my inner voice screaming, “You can’t do this!” Somehow I did! Years later, I am parenting a beautiful little girl. Although I sometimes wish I had her at 31 instead of closer to 41, the timing taught me some life lessons. Here’s what I learned.

What I learned being 40 and pregnant. What I Learned From Being 40 And Pregnant 

Take Good Care of Yourself

Since having my daughter, I have learned to take better care of myself. I no longer eat like a teenager on spring break. I swapped fast food for organic options. I exercise regularly to keep up with my daughter at the playground. I am now the proud owner of the Hip Hop Abs DVD. I’m also much more in tune with my body. If I notice something weird or different, I get it checked out immediately.

Be a Kid Again

Not only do I get to take the little one to the playground, but I get to play on the equipment too. I forgot how fun it was to swing on the tire swing or climb on the jungle gym. I even ride the teeter-totter! When I get the inevitable strange looks from kids and adults, I say I’m watching for my child’s safety. In my 20s or 30s, I might have felt too cool to ride the purple dinosaur rocker in the park. At 40, I have that confidence that comes with age-the confidence where you couldn’t care a little less about what people think of you.

Be Comfortable in Your Skin

One time a woman at the local McDonald’s asked me if I was my daughter’s grandmother. When I got home, I stared in the mirror, wondering if I needed to break out a little more Oil of Olay. I became increasingly familiar with every one of my gray hairs. I began to wonder if I should buy a bottle of dye. My best friend only reassured me that the McDonald’s woman was obviously crazy and that it still looked good for me to get back to being comfortable with being a mature mom. Perhaps when I notice a few more grays and wrinkles, those feelings will resurface, but I am now comfortable in my skin.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I’ve always been a major worrier. Right after having my daughter, all kinds of anxieties kicked in. I worried about her well-being, my well-being, where we live, who we know, and on and on. Yet, the more she grows, the more calm I become. Yeah, I still freak out now and again over serious things. Still, any parent of an independent and willful toddler learns that you can’t control some things in life. This brings us to patience. Heaven knows I have more patience now than I had ten years ago. And finding my darling daughter covered in all-purpose flour at one, Vaseline at two, and a lipstick she discovered at CVS at three, has taught me the value of deep breaths and counting slowly to 10. Let’s hope this skill will remain intact during the teenage years!

Prepare for the Future

I do think about my daughter growing up. That’s one of the biggest things I reflected on when I was pregnant at 40. Being an older parent has made me more mindful about preparing for her future in a way I hadn’t previously thought about, even when preparing for my own. I have definitely thought more about how to provide for her if anything should happen to me. It made me more serious about investing in a savings account and even increasing my life insurance premiums. Raising a child as a single mother of a mature age has also made me think more about preparing for her future, including establishing a savings account for her to afford college.  

If you're considering motherhood later on in life, here is a story sharing 5 things this mom learned about being pregnant in her forties. As with all things in life, there are pros and cons. And being a mature mom is no different. I still find myself playing the “when my kid is X years old,” I’ll be game. But for now, I’m just taking things one day at a time and enjoying each day with my daughter. Besides, she keeps me young!

Hey single moms–Did you wait until later in life to conceive? What was the first thing that went through your head when you found out you were pregnant?

Read More Single Mom Stories.