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Becoming Parents in Mid-life -
Another Child?

QUESTION: I recently gave birth to my first baby, a girl -- and I'm in my mid 40s. I want another baby, badly. Should I have another child so soon after giving birth?

You have just entered a new chapter in your life that involves both fulfillment as a mother and loss of the freedom afforded by life without a child. Allow yourself the time to process all the feelings that are part of this enormous transition before pressuring yourself about whether or not to have a second child. It's possible that you are substituting "making a decision" for taking the time to resolve the natural, ambivalent feelings that motherhood evokes. Ambivalence in motherhood is a sign of healthy adjustment, which all parents must recognize and come to terms with over time.

Most women just coming out of pregnancy and childbirth do not want to even think about another pregnancy for at least six months! Perhaps the last year of physical change and transformation has left you tired and projecting these feelings into the future. So much is new, it would be difficult to project how you'll feel when your child is two years old.

However, if you feel you have "pushed the envelope" by having your first child in mid-life, you are in good company! In the last decade, there has been a burgeoning of parents who have delayed parenthood. Mid-life brings to childrearing both strengths and weaknesses, which probably won't change significantly for one or two children. Yet, younger parents may lack the maturity of middle-age, which may make parenthood an easier adjustment!

The concerns you may have as mid-life parents may include resources related to your health, money and energy. But you have already brought one child into your current situation, so you must have some faith in your future. And the biggest commitment to change (parenthood) is already sealed.

You are currently in the midst of tremendous psychological change as you become parents! This next year will bring not only your daughter's first birthday, but the birth of a new relationship based on family life. You have the opportunity to discuss how you want to share the responsibilities of parenthood.

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Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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