Can you believe a woman who is pregnant at the age of  35 or older is considered a “geriatric pregnancy”? Yes...it’s a thing, and it’s stupid.Then, you’re told it’s “high risk” and has “complications”, but pregnancy post 35 is more common than the medical field will tell you. Ask Halle Berry who believes it to be “more meaningful”.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes. My mom’s best friend became pregnant with her first child at 40, then delivered another one a few years later without complications. I believe that it was set up for me to stretch beyond society’s timeline and move at my own pace. After all, I held out on having sex a lot longer than my peers. I could chalk it up to religious reasons, at the time, but realistically my mind wasn’t prepared for engaging in something that could create humans. I didn’t even start menstruating until I was fifteen, so late-blooming is kinda my thing.

It was no surprise when one of my younger brothers started the parent life before me. He was already pegged as the first sibling to have children, but being the oldest and a woman, it was always assumed that I’d have them first. Did I expect to celebrate my 36th birthday this year without a bun in the oven? Not at all. I was actually working on it at the beginning of the summer with my boyfriend. When we broke up after my birthday, I realized that was a blessing in disguise. Staring devastation in the face, as I cried at my reflection in the mirror, I realized that God was laughing at my plans, per usual.

I planned for my first love to be my husband. I think we would’ve had one or two children but mama would’ve been consulting her lawyer on drafting divorce papers by now. The second love would have been equipped to father financially but emotionally was bankrupt. There were a couple “situationships” in between love number three that could have resulted in single-parenthood, but were never ideal for me. The third love, though? He was supposed to be the one. And who knows- he still very well may be- but time and personal growth must be on our side before procreating.

Even with all of the lessons and revelations from love gone sour and becoming a beloved aunt to two precious (and damn-cute) girls helped me realize that I still need time. These past three years navigating auntie-hood have taught me more about parenthood than I ever expected. Staying on top of a feeding and sleeping schedule is easy. I can make a bottle at perfect temperature, change a diaper like clockwork, and fasten a baby in a car seat with Marine precision. Once my nieces started walking, that was another ballgame. You cannot blink and miss a beat because babies will explore, touch, pull and grab at everything! Then they learn the word no and have tantrums when you don’t allow them to stick their finger inside an electrical socket. If they become too heavy to pick up but insist on it anyway, you’re forced to drag them into the grocery store since they refuse to walk. It was eye-opening to see that my own patience levels with my precious nieces were lower than I thought. I became grateful that I didn’t push out children first.

But before I can even have kids of my own, I still have to raise myself. I know the basics of taking care of myself physically and financially (although I’m no expert in either category), but what about emotionally or spiritually? I haven’t even fully connected or committed to my life’s purpose or passion. To navigate parenthood amidst this rocky road- as much as this hurts to admit- would be an accident that I’d see coming but drive into head-on. The pregnancy would be rooted in anxiety and apprehension instead of joy and bliss. I’m not saying expectant mothers who are happily awaiting the birth of their children don’t experience a healthy fear of the unknown, but mine wouldn’t involve the word healthy, at all. Stress management hasn’t been easy lately, and I don’t want it to triple when pregnant. That creates a mother raising children from a broken place who then has to take on the unfortunate responsibility of raising themselves (I’m a living witness of this).

Instead of wasting time worrying about running out of time, whether it’s from medical articles or my own self-imposed limits, I have an opportunity to create the life I deserve with intention. A few weeks before my birthday, I wrote a manifesto stating this year I would occupy my time with fulfilling my goals and dreams so much that there wouldn’t be any room to feel like I was missing out on anything. Who or whatever is destined to come into my life will be a shocking bonus instead of something I’ve been seeking or waiting for. 

So I’m going to keep that same energy and stop lying to myself about what I think is the right time. Truth be told, the right time is when it happens. My grandmother can say it’s too late for me until she’s blue in the face but it won’t make my uterus and ovaries dry up tomorrow or five years from now. I am a woman who is married to her purpose, happiness, growth and evolution. Cultivating a self-love that keeps my happiness maintained is what will make the difference after the babies come. Being present in this moment, without focusing on having empathy for anyone aside from myself, is a healthy habit to practice. It’s a habit I haven’t practiced enough so I won’t rush through the process or dare take this time for granted.

Alicia is a Guest Contributor for TGM. You can find her other work here.