When I found out I was pregnant with my last baby, I was almost 36 years old. I had five living children, had experienced a full term stillbirth and a miscarriage with a D&C where I lost a huge amount of blood and nearly my life. So naturally, I was terrified to tell anyone; especially the people close to me. I thought that they would not be happy or supportive about the pregnancy. In fact, I thought they would think we were crazy and just plain stupid. I even thought they would be mad at me for endangering my life.
I mean, who gets pregnant again after all that?
If you’re here reading this, you’ve probably experienced lots of comments about your family planning and building as well. Whether you chose to have babies later, have struggled with infertility, or had your other children a while ago and then got a little surprise, I can guarantee that you could give me some amazing quotes from family, friends, and strangers.
So what do we do about this? What do we do when the words coming out of the mouths of others seem hurtful, disrespectful and inappropriate?
In some cases, it’s easy to shrug it off, but when it hits a little closer to home, those words can really sting, and even permanently affect relationships. So I’m going to give you three tips to deal with these types of comments.
First, recognize that what other people say is about them, not you.
We all have beliefs about how life should go, and the people around you may have opinions about yours. That’s ok. But it doesn’t really say anything about you–it just shows you what’s going on in their head. Even if it’s your MIL asking about when she’s going to get her grandkids. She likely thinks you’d be happier and she’d be happier if you have a baby. It’s ok to let her think that and even say it out loud…as many times as she wants to. It’s so much easier not to react to those words when you practice believing that it’s 100% about her or them.
Second, let the humans be human.
Look, we all know we’ve said things we wish we hadn’t or that we didn’t realize would be painful for someone else to hear. So when that lady in the grocery store comments on the size of your belly, remember this: we can’t control what other people say, and when we try to (especially with the people close to us) it never works. So we’re often left feeling terrible. But guess what? They don’t have to change in order for you to feel better. You just have to practice believing that they are doing their best, and sometimes their best is terrible! But that’s ok.
And third, get confident
Whatever your journey to a baby after 35 looks like, you have the life experiences to really lean into confidence now. But you have to be intentional when it comes to people’s opinions. Many times we get an idea that “everyone” is thinking something about us. But most often it is just a few people whose opinions we really care about–not everyone at school or the playground. Take a minute and write a list of the top 3 people in your life that you think might be saying things about you or feeling a certain way. Then ask yourself if you want how they feel or what they think affect you. Being confident means you recognize what’s really going on for you. And all too often, the comments that really hurt us are the ones that expose something we already believe about ourselves.
If Aunt Alice said she really thought you should paint your bedroom purple instead of grey, you probably wouldn’t have much of an emotional reaction because you’d be confident that she was wrong about your color choices. But when she says you are a little old to be dealing with diapers, and you kind of agree with her, it stings. A LOT! When people’s words touch some of our own fears about ourselves, whether we recognize them or not, that’s when we have a problem.
But the solution is easier than you think.
Did you know you can just decide that your life has gone perfectly up until now? And that this is the exact right time to be growing your family? Well, you can! And once you decide to truly believe that, you are going to create confidence. When you use confidence to drive your decisions and your interactions, you will come from a much better place.
And me? I was wrong about my family. They were so excited about the new baby, and even if they hadn’t been, I was confident in our decision to bring one more little one into our home.
So the next time someone says something to you about your family, remember:
It’s not about you, it’s 100% about them.
You can let the humans be human.
And you can create your own confidence.
Because you’ve got better things to do with your time and energy than worry about what other people think!
Amy is a mom of six living children and two babies in Heaven. She uses her experience with miscarriage, stillbirth and high risk pregnancy in her work as a Certified Life and Grief Coach for other moms whose babies have died during pregnancy or infancy. Amy hosts the podcast Smooth Stones where she teaches these women that they can create a beautiful life, even without all their babies in their arms.
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