A Happiness Box for Kylie

In September, the Project began to capture longer, more in-depth stories of Advanced Maternal Age Mothers.

We asked each woman to share her life-line, a chronological depiction of her life to date, noting major milestones and how she felt at each in writing. Then we heard their stories in person. Our researchers asked a few questions, but really listened. Some of the most important comments are captured in the audio clips of these session. Where additional resources were shared, we include them at the bottom of the story. Our compilation of their story is this narrative.

Kylie and Family

Kylie with Her Own Family

Here is the narrative, which we call A Happiness Box for Kylie.

During my childhood in Australia, my mother was the main emotional support for both my sister and me. She worked nights as a nurse and cared for us during the daytime. She had to work to help pay for hidden debt that came along with her marriage to my father and that was not a secret she kept from us. As a result, my mother absorbed a lot of stress and became the structural support for our family.

Watching this family dynamic shaped my views of being a parent to represent unhappiness, struggle, and settling for second best.

Throughout my childhood I was a high achiever in all academic areas. I received a lot of praise for my success and also pressure to become a doctor or a lawyer. My mother would always tell that there was plenty of time to have kids and that I needed to fulfill my potential.

A recurrent theme from my teachers and mom was to not settle for second best.

Watching my mother’s struggle and being pushed to having a career first ultimately led me to wait until I was 35 to get pregnant with my first child.

I began my university studies with the goal of becoming a lawyer. During my first year practicing law, I realized that being a lawyer wouldn’t lead me to a personally fulfilling career and I decided to leave. I instead became a teacher and found this path very rewarding. When I was 24 I ended up meeting my now-husband John in Japan where I was teaching overseas. He was from the U.S. and we had a long-distance relationship for a few years. During this time I wanted him to move to Australia and he wanted me to move to the U.S. In my late twenties I ended our relationship as I was tired of having a long-distance relationship and spent time teaching overseas in England and Canada.

The peak of my career occurred in my early thirties when I became an assistant principal at a primary school in Australia overseeing 2,500 children, 1200 in my own school and another 1,000+ were my cohort from feeder schools that I oversaw with my ESL/refugee team. During this time, as well, John and I got back together and he moved to Australia. When I was 35 we married. 

Having fulfilled my needs within my career and having a loving and stable partner by my side led me for the next step in my life and seeking to become a mother.

At the age of 36 I had my daughter Mia in Australia. The only complications I had during my first pregnancy were blood clots. I had to take blood thinners and I also took extra care of myself. I ate well, practiced yoga, aqua aerobics, aromatherapy, and acupuncture. (I still take blood-thinning medication.)

My experience with doctors and nurses was very positive. I was encouraged to write out my birth plan, a common exercise for Australian women, and felt that they were engaged in my pregnancy. I had a midwife during labor and delivery as well who was good for emotional support and acted as a voice for me when I was in pain. I also had support from my friends and family during pregnancy and beyond. For my baby shower my friends gave me a special gift, a happiness box. It contained pieces of paper that said what they liked about me and what I was good at. Also included were dried flowers, photos, and delicious candy. It was a source of comfort after Mia was born when I was up in the middle of the night and couldn’t call my friends or mom for a needed a pick me up. I had a friend that prepared a lot frozen meals too, which was especially helpful!

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