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Tough for 40-something new moms

By Dana Wood, Special to CNN
Dana Wood with daughter Parker in the Bahamas in 2008.
Dana Wood with daughter Parker in the Bahamas in 2008.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dana Wood, senior fashion features editor of W, became a mom in her 40s
  • She shares her hard-earned wisdom in a book and a blog
  • Says you'll take longer to bounce back from childbirth than younger counterparts
  • Your sense of self will be shaken; it will take longer to look great
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Editor's note: Dana Wood, the senior fashion features editor of W and the author of "Momover: The New Mom's Guide to Getting It Back Together (Even If You Never Had It in the First Place!)", is the writer of "Momover," an online column that explores the collision of age and first-time motherhood.

New York (CNN) -- Like so many women in New York, Los Angeles, and increasingly smack in the middle of fly-over country, I waited until I was in my 40s to have my first child.

After finally getting hitched (no mean feat in this town), I figured having a baby would be a cakewalk. I'd had a successful career for decades in the notoriously tough industry of fashion publishing, so surely I'd be a just-add-water insta-mom, right? I expected to feel terrific the second I stepped out of that maternity ward, ready to seize the day.

If you're in a similar late-in-life mother demographic, I can hear you chuckling right through those computer cables.

First-time mommy-hood is a shock to the system at any age. But I can assure you that for women in their 40s, giving birth can seriously topple your mental, physical and emotional apple carts. And when you think about it, that makes perfect sense: You've had that much longer to get used to life on Planet You than your average twenty- or thirty-something. So of course you'll feel discombobulated when you first encounter the ...

Five universal truths for forty-something, first-time mamas

1. You don't own your life anymore. Hmmm ... how to put this nicely? You know all that freedom you've enjoyed over the past few decades to structure your perfect world exactly as you saw fit? Let's hope you've kept a journal, because it will be another 20 years before that happens again.

2. You'll take longer to bounce back from childbirth than your younger counterparts. Whether brought on by accumulated stress, environmental toxins, chemicals in our food and water or just general wear and tear, our bodies get depleted of vital nutrients as the years pile up.

That means we boomers will need to work doubly hard to recover our pre-delivery health. And for some of us, perimenopause is headed down the pike at the same time we're mastering the fine art of swaddling our diapered darlings.

3. Your sense of self will be shaken to the core. In the first few plus-baby months, even if you're a Harvard grad or a CEO, you'll be hard-pressed to form a single sentence that doesn't include words such as "blankie" and "binkie."

In short, your identity will be held utterly hostage by this teensy-weensy, innocent-looking creature. Your confidence can take a hit, too, especially if you've had next to no experience caring for a living / breathing / peeing / pooping newborn.

4. You'll spend a lot more time trying to look great and probably be half as successful as you were pre-baby.

The collision of age and first-time mommy-hood is rarely pretty. Of course, one of the key reasons this occurs is that you're just flat-out exhausted. Somehow, crow's feet look even worse against a backdrop of raccoon-caliber dark circles. Don't fret; that's what concealer is for.

5. You'll know in your still-poochy gut that it's all absolutely worth it.

If you're already a late-in-life new mama, I realize I'm preaching to the converted. So I guess this particular Universal Truth is aimed at those of you who still might be debating taking the plunge. Do it. Not only is the water fine, it's outstanding.

 
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