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Motherhood in your forties

Wry amusement washed over Cari Rosen when she heard women such as herself described as 'career-crazed power-freaks' on a radio show.

For she's no city slicker with her nose to the office grindstone - she's just a first-time mum.

But she's an older first-time mum - she didn't have her first, and only, child until she was 43 - and entering motherhood at such a late stage still provokes assumptions that such mothers are career-obsessed.

However Rosen, now 45 and a mother of a healthy two-year-old daughter, insists she didn't delay motherhood to further her career in TV production and editing. She, like many other women, simply didn't meet the right man to have children with until she was in her late thirties.

She sets the record straight in her new, tell-it-as-it-is book, The Secret Diary Of A New Mum (Aged 43 1/4), which aims to show that being an older first-time mum these days is absolutely normal.

There are certainly plenty of famous mums who've given birth after the age of 40 - Cherie Blair had son Leo when she was 45, Nicole Kidman had her first child at 41, and other celebrity mums who've given birth after 40 include Madonna (41), Emma Thompson (40), and Halle Berry (41).

And the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that over the past decade, the number of births to mothers aged 40 and over has nearly doubled, from 14,252 in 1999 to 26,976 in 2009.

Experts say more older women are giving birth because of various factors including better health, staying in education longer, and concentrating on their careers.

But Rosen, who now works part-time as a copywriter, says she interviewed thousands of women as she researched the book, and most were just like her, and simply hadn't met the right man until late.

"I know that the press say it's all about women wanting to have it all and putting their careers first, and I'm sure that's the case for some women," she says.

"But for the vast, vast majority of people I met, it was about circumstances and finding the person they wanted to have a child with."

She agrees that waiting 'til your forties to have a baby can be risky, but stresses that "If circumstances dictate that you don't have a choice, then you have to keep your hopes up".

Rosen got pregnant just two months after getting married at the age of 41, but had an early miscarriage.

She was told by a doctor that it was a "one-in-a-million chance" that she'd got pregnant in the first place, and that it would never happen again.

"I went home and cried for a few hours, and then I thought 'No, I'm not going to give up.'"

When the couple were able to try again, Rosen was pregnant within six months.

The pregnancy went smoothly, although she says: "There was a lot in the press about the terrible things that could happen if a woman in her forties got pregnant, and I worried a lot.

"But the feeling of being pregnant was amazing. I was so proud of my bump."

She had a planned caesarian at 38 and a half weeks, due to a previous gynaecological operation, and her baby was a healthy 8lbs 8oz.

The proud mum declares: "I'm the most blessed person in the world to have this little girl."

She doesn't reveal the name of her daughter in the book, as she wants her to be able to "stay away from the limelight".

But it goes through all the stages of her baby's life from pregnancy until the age of two, charting everything from the problems with breastfeeding and how each suck "sends a thousand razor-sharp daggers through my nipple", to the joys of toilet training and her daughter showing her 'big girl knickers' to the monkeys at London Zoo.

Ultimately, the book emphasises the fact that being a first-time mum is pretty much the same whether you're a youngster or one of the 'Zimmers' - the title Rosen suggests may be appropriate for older mums.

"Most of the friends I've met through being pregnant are much younger than me, but the differences are just cultural - they haven't heard of the people I talk about, and they don't know what a polytechnic is.

"But on a day-to-day basis, it's the same for all of us."

She remembers when she was at school that a classmate had an older mum.

"She was a grey-haired little old lady - I'm not one of those.

"Times have changed, and if I stay relatively fit, healthy and young-looking, my age doesn't have to be an issue for my daughter."

She suggests that older mothers have plenty of advantages - including more wisdom, being likely to have already climbed the career ladder, and probably not wanting to go out clubbing every night.

"I've got more patience, and I appreciate my daughter so much because she's a blessing that might not have happened."

She adds: "If you're 40 and you want to have a child, you can't expect it as a guarantee, but you shouldn't give up hope - many women, like me, have a happy ending."

:: The Secret Diary Of A New Mum (Aged 43 1/4) is published by Vermilion on February 3, priced £11.99.

PA Media