An Interview: Jeany’s* Story

 

Co-founder Sharon Interviewed Jeany about Her Story.


Sharon: Tell me about your family and who is in it?

 

Jeany: My family includes me, my husband Donald, and our 1-year-old biological son named Donel. My husband has two children from a former relationship, a son aged 19 and a daughter aged 12, who do not live in our home.

 

Sharon:  At what age did you start trying to start a family?

Jeany: When I was 34 we started to try to conceive. I had married at age 31. My husband is 8 years older than me and he had a preference not to be changing diapers at age 50. He had been through that with his other children, my step-children. We had no idea how long it would take for me to get pregnant. I knew that my age might be a factor.

Sharon: What life choices or circumstances led you to that point?

Jeany:  I worked hard to get my Ph.D. in psychology when I was 28 and launched my career in my hometown of Washington, D.C, working with children enrolled in special education programs ranging from newborns through 21 years of age. I moved to Texas and found myself working at the Texas Youth Commission, counseling troubled kids, many of whom had records of violent criminal behavior. While working with these challenging cases, I had no desire to have children of my own. My work seemed to deter me from having children earlier, plus I wanted to be in a stable relationship.

Sharon: Why did you decide to have a child?

 

Jeany:  We were ready as a couple plus I had a new job, which I currently hold, training foster parents on issues around children’s mental health and supporting those with trauma. I cover a wide range of topics in my courses for foster parents. Someday I might seek to foster and adopt a child as well, though I would wait until my son is around 4 years of age. My father is a retired social worker who worked with foster children, many of whom I got to meet and play with in my childhood.


Sharon: Describe any of the challenges you may have encountered along the way.

 

Jeany: I was first pregnant in April 2009 and it was just a few weeks until I miscarried. Though an early loss, it was painful and caused some depression for me. I was determined to try again and had Donald’s support; however, his work then and now takes him to the Middle East regularly. We worked hard to time his vacations around my ovulation cycle, but that wasn’t always easy! On at least one occasion, he changed his schedule to be home for us to try to conceive.

Sharon: Please share your feelings from that process: getting AMA label, experiences with medical professionals, etc.

 

Jeany: When we conceived Donel in August 2010, I knew that there were additional risks around an advanced maternal age birth. I proactively took a number of measures while trying to conceive, including losing weight and exercising. I did yoga, took herbs and got some chiropractic care to improve my body’s alignment. I really took care of myself and was prepared. Our family of medical doctors were a bit skeptical, but I don’t regret taking these measures to be healthy.

The biggest challenge we faced was my preeclampsia diagnosis, which I sense may have been caused by my age. It was disappointing and made us change our birth plans from seeking natural childbirth in a birthing center to having Donel delivered in a hospital by an OB. Then, when in labor Donel’s heart rate slowed and I suddenly needed an emergency c-section. This was a big disappointment!

Sharon: Looking back on the process…do you see things differently? Is there anything you would do differently? Have your feelings changed? If so, how?


Jeany: 
I was able to deal with my early fears about having a child, removing the perceptions I had in my early career from working with troubled youth.

I had self doubt after the c-section and blamed my age. It had been my dream to have natural childbirth. I wonder if preeclampsia would have been my diagnosis at an earlier age?

Sharon:  Thinking back, do you feel good about your choice or are there things that you regret?

Jeany: I regret that I might not be able to have another child. It’s uncertain how much support I’ll receive from my husband to conceive again, or to foster and adopt. We’re talking about it now.I did it the best way for me, in terms of waiting to be married, being well into my career and certainly past my fears about the troubled children I counseled early on.


Sharon: Now that your child is 1-year old, what has been your experience as a parent? How might this be reflective of your maturity or other factors?

Jeany: My son is a delight and like all toddlers, can be quite challenging at the same time. Some days when my husband is traveling, it can be trying caring for a 1-year-old on my own. Once he’s in bed and I have time to rest and reflect and then realize that he is a true blessing. There are many women that cannot have children and I am truly happy with my choices.

Thank you for interviewing me and may I encourage other women of color to be a part of your project?

Sharon: Absolutely. We encourage this and thank you Jeany!

Jeany* was a first-time mother at age 36 and has a background in counseling psychology and works with foster families and children. She asked to be interviewed for The Advanced Maternal Age Project, which we did by phone on May 24, 2012.

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