Note: I also posted a Mother’s Day Profile on www.divorce-dayz.info. I interviewed a single mom who was the breadwinner during her marriage and after her divorce. Please feel free to click on the link and read her story.
Note: I met Heidi in the late 1990s when I moved back to Central PA after my divorce. She is a nurse practitioner and certified midwife. When I returned to PA, I went through a period of depression, which she helped me through. We have remained in touch, and despite the fact she is young enough to be my daughter, our philosophy of life is similar, and like me, had children late in life, so I feel strongly connected to her.
On a recent visit back to State College, where I lived before remarrying and moving to Philadelphia, I went to visit Heidi Loomis with the express purpose of interviewing her about having children in midlife. My husband and I drove out of State College over a mountain covered with fog and emerged into the rural part of the area. When we turned into Heidi & Jimâ€™s gravel road to their house, I was transformed back into the series Little House on the Prairie, updated.
The house was modern, not a log cabin, but inside I felt like I had been pushed back in time. The comfortable living room had stuffed furniture, including a rocking chair, of course, and the small dining area off the kitchen sat next to a wood burning stove. The kitchen was what I would call country modern and the whole downstairs felt cozy and comfortable.Â As we sat talking, a black rooster appeared out the kitchen window, and Jim pointed to a chicken coop a few yards from the house.
Heidi and husband Jim have two children: children Kate (7), born when Heidi was 40 andÂ and Eli (5),born when Heidi was 42. When I first met Heidi, she was in her late 30s, single, and working full time as a nurse practitioner. Now Heidi works one day each week at her nurse practitioner job and the rest of the time she is a stay-at-home mom. Their first child, Kate, was born with a midwife in the hospital and her son Eli was born at home with a midwife, both good experiences with no delivery problems. When she was pregnant, Heidi was considered a â€œPrimagravita,â€ which in medical terms means an â€œelderly,â€ first time mother. So, we talked about having children after 40 with the advantages and disadvantages. Here are the advantages Heidi gave me, keeping in mind that Heidi has training and experience in the health care area:
1. More informed about childbirth and health in general
2. More life experiences
3. More stable financially
4. More mature emotionally
5. More comfortable in her career (15 years in the field)
Here are the disadvantages Heidi listed:
1. More polluted breast milk because of her age
2. Increased possibility of birth anomalies
3. Issues surrounding returning to her careerÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
4. Possible issues around energy levels.
While we chatted, Kate and Eli buzzed around their mom, wanting all her attention. Jim worked getting them interested in other activities, but Mom was definitely the center of attention, which was fine with me.Â I come from a family of five children and am used to the hubbub of activity in a family setting. While the children were home schooled for a few years, they are now both attending The Friendsâ€™ School in State College.Â Kate had a difficult time at first, but now enjoys school and also playing Suzuki violin. She gave us a â€œprivate concertâ€ and I was amazed at her level of accomplishment.
One of the pleasant surprises was that Heidi is making snack bags with napkins for children. They are lined with non-polyurethene fabric and she is selling them locally under the name Stone Valley Designs. (To learn more and to see the different, delightful colors, go to www.stonevalleydesigns.com.)Â Heidi has a little corner of the dining room set up to house her fabric and her tools of the traded. Since we both sew, we had a conversation about organic cotton and I decided to buy some for my tote bags.
Heidi and Jim are â€œmodern parentsâ€ who happen to live close to the earth. (I would NOT consider Heidi an elderly mother, the way the medical profession views it.) They eat simple meals that are made from organically grown foods low on the food chain, dress casually, and devote a great deal of time to the care of their children and the care of their land, their legacy to their children. I interviewed Heidi the day after Earth Day and realized that they could have been part of the solutions that Mark Hersgaard writes about in his book, HOT, which I reviewed for Earth Day. (Go to https://www.menupause.info/index.php?cat=2.) Scroll down to the book.
At some point, Heidi wants to do more in her chosen fields, especially counseling older women who want children or who are pregnant. Since we live longer than we did 100 years ago, having children at 40 does not seem a problem for most women who are healthy to begin with, which is another issue Heidi would like to address in her work.
(I had my third child at age 41 and felt healthier than I did with my first two. See my article to be posted in a few days, called â€œMy Turn at Midlife Motherhood.â€) She also wants to spend six months traveling with Jim and the children to organic farms all around the globe, working in exchange for room and board.Â (See the website: wwoof.com to learn more about organic and sustainable agriculture in other countries.)
I hope that Heidiâ€™s story will inspire those of you who are thinking about a midlife baby. The advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages, at least for me, and I think also for Heidi. Womenâ€™s Lib notwithstanding, having a child is one of the most transformative experiences in a womanâ€™s life, and when that child comes to you at midlife, you remain young at heart! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
P.S. Heidi sent me a beautiful essay of her feelings about being a midlife mom. It will appear tomorrow, Mother’s Day,Â because it is too beautiful to be an add-on to my Profile.