Claudia SpahrAge: 42
Marital Status: In a stable, committed relationship
Residence: Spain for most of the year but we spent the last three winters in South Goa, India.
Children: Santiago, 3 years old and currently pregnant with second baby, due early September.
Profession: I’m an author, journalist and speaker specializing in women’s health, fertility, pregnancy and motherhood ClaudiaSpahr.com, RightTimeBaby.com (Paperback, Kindle).
I’m also a yogi and set up, together with my Spanish partner, a yoga and therapies resort on the beach in South Goa, India Lotus-Yoga-Retreat.com.
I have a passion for travelling and immersing myself into new cultures. Being by the sea grounds me and I love swimming in salt water, especially now with my growing bump as it’s the best remedy against lower back pain.
I’m fascinated by change, transformation and where we’re headed collectively as a planet. I love snooping around in the space where science and spirituality, or religion, meet.
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? Tell us what your road to parenthood was like.
A: My reasons for becoming a mother later are the classic ones. I had a string of dysfunctional relationships in my twenties and thirties with men whose sense of family, responsibility and commitment were practically adolescent. I thought I was ‘ready’ to become a mom in my early thirties but with no suitable father candidate around, I threw myself into my career. I was working in the fast-paced world of television news, racing around with microphones and cameras. For a couple of years I was the UK correspondent for Swiss TV, based in London. It was a highly fascinating job but meant I was constantly on call and had to drop any personal commitments at a moment’s notice. Far from ideal if you’re a mom.
I changed my lifestyle in my mid-thirties to focus on writing and met my partner on a trip to India. He was very different than other men I had been with because he really wanted children. But then you could say, maybe I had to change first to attract that kind of man into my life. To be very honest, I just wasn’t properly ready to give up my independence or freedom any earlier. Another interesting point is that my partner is younger than me, so he grew up with different gender expectations. I realized early on that he was evolved enough to want to share the job of rearing kids. You could say I met the right man at the right time, which happened to be in my late thirties.Q: What do you most love about your work? What is most challenging about it?
A: I love that fact that I’m my own boss. The publishing business may not be as lucrative as my old media job (let’s just say ‘yet’ and keep our fingers crossed!) but the editors are so much nicer to me. I am treated like an author with a personality, not a replaceable journalist who’s on the production line. I am of course fulfilling my childhood dream The challenge with writing books is that you never quite know how your work will be received. While writing you’re in a sort of vacuum and just have to believe in what you’re doing.Q: What do you see as the positives and challenges of becoming a 35+ mom?
A: I was much more ready to change my priorities. I’m a social butterfly and hate to miss a good party. If I would have had kids younger, this may have made me feel like I was missing out. I’m also more established in my career, so I don’t see the stroller in the hallway as an obstacle to my professional fulfillment. Becoming a mother later means I have more life experience and wisdom to cope with the challenging aspect of rearing kids. I think I have more patience to deal with them when they won’t stop crying or asking for the things that just aren’t possible (like another ice-cream).
I would say the only negative thing about coming to motherhood later is that you don’t necessarily have the chance to have a huge family (although according to the research in my book we can influence our fertility and greatly improve it). What I have observed with some mothers 35+ is that they can become a bit obsessed about their child, striving for perfection in an area of their life, where perfection is not possible. Or maybe it’s just such a shock to the system because if you’ve been independent for so long, it’s a huge change to put a child first. I must admit that it did take me about a year or two after the birth of my son to really feel who and where I was again.Q: Has anything about being a mom surprised you?
A: It did surprise me how much the first months demand your undivided attention and eat up your time. However, what surprised me more was how happily I embraced this taking over of my life. Before you have a child you don’t realize how pure and unconditional love can be. It really is what makes the world go round. Parental love keeps growing even when you thought you couldn’t love your baby more. You have this incredible instinct to protect your off-spring and want only the best for them.
Everyone always says a baby will change your relationship but you never know – until you actually go there – just how much. There are positives and negatives. You have less time for each other, of course, and you’re more tired. But you also gain a whole new aspect to your relationship. You share a very special kind of love for a little person.Q: What do you most want to teach your children? What influence, if any, has your own mother had in your life and in your parenting?
A: I think tolerance and an open mind are important in today’s world. Being able to understand other cultures and have compassion for all beings. Language skills can be a great asset for communicating with ‘strange others' and getting outside of your own mindset and social conditioning. I grew up bilingual and found learning other languages much easier as a consequence. My 3 year-old son is actually trilingual right now because that’s the environment he’s growing up in. He speaks Spanish with his dad, German with me and English at Kindergarten or when I read to him (he was even learning Hindi in India but we’ve left now so he probably won’t keep this up). As much as we teach our children I think they have a lot to teach us. They’re much more in awe of their environment. The new generation has rather sophisticated DNA – what I mean to say is that in an evolutionary aspect our kids are ahead of us, so we should listen to them too.
My mother is a painter, amongst other things. She taught me appreciation of nature. As a painter she saw a multi-colored, fascinating world with motifs for paintings everywhere. She tuned me in to this sensibility but rather than using a paintbrush, my tool is the pen (or the keyboard as we’re in the digital era).Q: Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? How do you think an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later moms?
A: A lot of my friends are later moms like me, so we support each other. I find pregnancy yoga a very nurturing environment because you’re surrounded by women with bumps just like you and the class generally begins by sharing mutual concerns. Similarly going to yoga with your baby after the birth can be a great way to re-connect with these women. Some can become really good friends. I find women are extremely supportive and have great solidarity when it comes to ‘female realms’ such as pregnancy and motherhood.
Motherhood Later…than Sooner is a great place to go for advice and information that is specific to this demographic. It’s wonderful to read inspiring stories and see that you’re not alone in some of the more challenging aspects of coming to motherhood later.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: Get as healthy as possible beforehand. According to the research I did for my book, Right Time Baby, preparing for pregnancy 3 to 6 months prior to conception massively improves fertility and the chances of having a healthy baby. In fact according to various long-term studies done in the UK, at a place called Foresight, 90% of people got pregnant naturally after following a pre-conception lifestyle and diet plan (involving detox and individually tailored supplement programmes). There were only 2% miscarriages (normally the average is 25%) and no birth defects. Most of the participants were over 33, many over 40, some even over 50. The great majority of participants incidentally suffered years of fertility problems prior to the study.
I did two detoxes before getting pregnant this time and made sure I ate really healthily prior to conception. This means no alcohol, coffee, tobacco; very little white flour, sugar, processed foods and lots of fruit, vegetables and wholefoods. I also exercised regularly by doing yoga which increases blood flow to the internal organs and uterus. Learning meditation or a form of relaxing the mind can be great tools for when you’re exhausted, frustrated or simply run down by the kids and juggling all your responsibilities.Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother or mother figure share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other moms?
A: My mom was from that generation who got married young and immediately had kids. She had me when she was barely 20 years old. Her advice to me was always, “Live your life before you have kids and don’t give up things for a man.” I don’t think she regrets her choices but she definitely wanted me to find myself before settling down. I know women with teenage daughters who are advising them to have kids young, along the lines of what the UK media and medical establishment keep trying to ram down our throats. The problem is of course – apart from that these girls may want to get educated, travel and have careers first – the men. There are few 25 year-old guys who are ready to commit to family. I don’t think I would give my kids too many guidelines on this issue. It’s such a personal thing and depends also on who you’re in a relationship with. I would however, probably tell the sons to take more responsibility – especially when it comes to sex and pregnancy. Far too much onus is on the girls.
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