Months before I even had my son, a mama in her 40s made my ears perk up. I was listening to Dr. Christiane Northrup on her Hay House radio show, Flourish, when she had fertility coach and author Claudia Spahr on as a guest. The two women spoke eloquently about the fear and confusion around later motherhood, and Claudia, who had birthed all three of her naturally conceived children in her 40s, shared tons of solid advice about conception and pregnancy, as well as new data that she had researched for her own book, Right Time Baby.
Claudia, a former journalist-turned-author and fertility expert who now resides in Switzerland and Spain, expressed herself with the kind of competence that results from living what she’s teaching. While listening to Claudia talk, I looked at her website and saw photos of a slender woman with dark, flowing hair, who looked at least ten years younger than what Dr. Northrup’s introduction had suggested. No way this woman was 45—I want what she’s having!
A couple of weeks later, Claudia and I met for a fun Skype interview during which we talked about becoming moms in our 40s, a conversation journalist to journalist and mom-to-be to new mom of a 4-week-old baby girl. I liked Claudia from the start. Her down-to-earth attitude, solid knowledge of the topic, and easygoing manner—she was rocking her newborn on her lap all during our interview, while occasionally shouting through the open window to her husband who was corralling their two little boys in the yard of their house in Ibiza, Spain—were inspiring. (Watch excerpts of our interview here: BettinaGordon.com/bonus/.)
When I reached out to Claudia for this book a couple of years later, we jumped right in. She told me, “I had a string of dysfunctional relationships in my 20s and 30s with men whose sense of family, responsibility, and commitment were practically adolescent. I thought I was ‘ready’ to become a mom in my early 30s, but with no suitable father candidate around, I threw myself into my career.”
For over a decade, Claudia was working in the fast-paced world of television news, racing around with microphones and cameras. For a couple of years, she was the UK correspondent for Swiss TV, which was based in London. It was a highly fascinating job, but it also meant that she was constantly on call and had to drop any personal commitments at a moment’s notice—something which is far from ideal if you’re a mom. Even though I chose Claudia’s interview for the BODY section of The Joy Of Later Motherhood, you’ll see how beautifully all three components of pregnancy—the MIND, the BODY, and the SPIRIT—are interwoven in her story.
Claudia: I changed my lifestyle in my mid-30s to focus on writing. I met my now husband 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 fifteen years 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 30s. Three children later, I am passionate about motherhood at the right time for you, the individual woman, not for anybody else.
My mission with my work today is to empower women and to tell them what I believe the real story is and not feed into the fear and confusion that is out there. For women who are trying to conceive, it’s really important that they have confidence in their own body and their body’s nature and that they be grounded and solid—which is not easy to do when health care providers, the media, and the latest “facts” take away our confidence.
Bettina: How did you become confident yourself?
Well, at first my own experience was that of extreme self-doubt as to whether I would be capable of getting pregnant. That’s why I know so well what I am talking about and what so many other women experience. I was rapidly approaching 40, which is a dreaded cultural portal for many women. So many of us think that everything is going to change the moment we hit 40, which, of course, is not true unless your mind is thinking it, which is a very important aspect. But unlike other women who had never been pregnant before, I had already lost a baby. I had just miscarried, and I was getting very impatient and frustrated. Every time I ovulated, I would think about a new beginning, a new chance, and every time I started bleeding again, I’d initially think it was implantation spots, until I realized that this was, indeed, menstrual bleeding. It was disheartening. And I kept having really short periods because my body was just all over the place.
In Chinese medicine, they say that a miscarriage is like a pregnancy and that a woman should give her body time to recover and heal, which is why I now completely understand the dilemma of many women who are going through IVF. They are often rushed to go from one round to the next, to the next, and they mentally feel that there is a time bomb ticking because they will be 40 or 42 or 44, and they cannot possibly lose another month. But what this rush means is that their bodies respond less and less. Our bodies are not machines. The more we try to push them, the less they are able to favorably respond.
Bettina: A friend of mine said exactly that: “My body is a machine that was not working well. When my car is not working well, I take it to the mechanic. So, when my body was not working well, I took it to a fertility specialist.” She had exactly this mindset that you described: my body is a machine, it is broken, and I need to fix it. My friend pushed and pushed and ended up losing five IVF pregnancies.
Our bodies are not machines that work disconnected from our emotions, thoughts, lifestyle, or belief system. I understand this deeply, as I, too, did not give myself time to heal at first. I wanted to push on. So, I got myself into a place of fear and panic and, yes, desperation, thinking that I had missed my opportunities.
Bettina: So, what changed?
I had a spiritual experience, which helped me let go, and I believe it opened the door to me getting pregnant with my first child the same month. I was invited to a family constellation session (an alternative therapeutic method) where some issues around guilt and shame came up. They were related to a fear I had about not being worthy of becoming a mother. After acknowledging the fears and forgiving myself, I was able to let go. The therapist showed me a different perspective.
This took me out of my limiting mindset and gave me my confidence back. She also said, “It’s going to be fine,” and I felt, “Whew, everything is going to be okay.” I think she connected with my intuition and was able to mirror it back. It was like instant healing. I’m a rational person but also a spiritual person. Since I’m familiar with yoga and try to practice regularly, I do believe there is more to life than what meets the eye. I think what happens when you have encounters with people who are working with other dimensions is that they perceive more than our limited capacity does. It was very liberating.
Bettina: This spiritual experience enabled you to leave the fear and doubt behind and trust again?
Yes. I think what happened was that I stopped putting a timer on when I would conceive. I became of the mindset, “It’s going to happen when it is going to happen.” It was not my interaction with this woman alone that made me regroup—there was something else happening at the same time as well. At the time, my husband and I were living in Ibiza, Spain. One day I was lying by the sea, and all of a sudden, I had the very real and strong feeling that there was a baby around me, a spirit baby. This was not a hallucination; it was a very real feeling.
After this experience, I started reading the book Spirit Babies (more about this concept in the SPIRIT pillar) and listened to interviews by a Chinese medicine expert who ran a huge clinic in Houston, Texas, and who, very successfully, had helped women to conceive. She said, and I am paraphrasing, “On the other side, there isn’t the same notion of time. If a baby is going to come, it is going to come whether it’s this year or next year or in two years. If you are of the mindset that it has to happen now, you may be hindering things, as this mindset is going to cause your body to tense up, and the stress will imbalance your hormones. There is a correlation between stress and not getting pregnant.” This made sense to me, and I stopped putting a timer on my pregnancy. As I said, my first son was conceived shortly thereafter.
Bettina: I’ve heard many women speak about this and wonder if you believe it too: do you think that there is a divine connection between mother and child, that the soul of the child is connected to the soul of the mother, even before the child is conceived?
Yes, absolutely. I believe in karma and divine connections, and I believe that we have the child that was meant for us. I also think this is true for a miscarriage or abortion. These experiences are part of a soul’s journey, and the mother and child are fulfilling something. A miscarriage or an abortion is not necessarily a bad thing; we just don’t know what agreement our souls had with the souls of our children. This thought, this belief, was very healing for me and brought me peace in dealing with my own miscarriage.
I kind of believe that things are the way they are meant to be, which is not necessarily what someone who is not able to get pregnant wants to hear. I do think that we have the children we are meant to have—or not. And that includes adoptive children as well. In the book Spirit Babies, there is a whole chapter on adoption, and the author describes how two souls, the child and the parent, finally come together through adoption and are no longer separated.
Bettina: I, too, read the book Spirit Babies. When I was pregnant, I was convinced I was having a girl. When we found out we were having a boy, I cried for two days. I still feel a loss for my girl, and I mourn her. I know that may sound really strange because I have this healthy, strong, and beautiful son, whom I enjoy tremendously, and yet I still mourn my daughter as well. And so sometimes I lie down in bed talking to her. I tell her “to find me” and “to come to me.” Maybe she will be conceived by another woman and be born through another woman, but maybe, somehow, we will still find each other and be reunited. That’s how strongly I feel about her.
I think adoption is really beautiful. My own father was adopted. I believe people often don’t understand how deep the bond and connection between a child and the adoptive parent can be.
Bettina: Did you have a divine experience with your second child as well?
My experience with my second child was different, but there was a divine component as well. In 2010, my husband and I were living for six months in Europe and for six months in South Goa, India. I started to work on my book, Right Time Baby, and researched all about later motherhood. I found really encouraging data as well as fertility experts who basically said that pregnancy in your 40s is much more natural than the stories we read would imply. So, I was in a very positive mindset.
I was interested in having another baby, but at the time, my husband was not so inclined. I also went to see my gynecologist for a check-up, and he found a very big cyst on one of my ovaries, which apparently can happen to women when they stop breastfeeding. He said we should keep a close eye on the cyst as it can become dangerous and may have to be surgically removed. Oh, and this cyst would keep me from getting pregnant. So, I thought, “Gosh, no, I have no pain. I don’t want to have an operation! I’d rather find other ways to heal my body!”
Oh, by the way, I see a huge focus on women being healthy and living a clean life before they conceive, but men are often left out of the equation. This is a big error as men’s sperm count and quality has gone down dramatically in the last few decades. I wrote about it in my book, Right Time Baby. Industrialized farming affected the men who worked in this industry really negatively.
When you ask the fertility specialists, you actually find out that 40 to 50 percent of the time it’s the man who has fertility issues, not the woman. The sperm is not as healthy as it used to be, and that makes it harder for women to conceive healthy children. Just recently I was listening to an Australian fertility expert who talked about new research that said that the egg compensates for any damage in the DNA of the sperm. So, if there is damage in the DNA of sperm, the egg has to work so much harder to create an embryo.
Often, we think that miscarriage is the women’s “fault,” while it may be that the sperm could not produce a healthy embryo that was growing properly. It can get a bit tricky for some women to convince their partners to have their sperm checked as the guys often think of themselves as infallible. But checking out the quality of the sperm should be one of the first things a couple does. And then the couple can get into a healthier lifestyle together.
Shortly after my doctor’s visit, my husband and I left for South Goa and lived close to the beach. The news about the cyst encouraged me to do a detox and to practice yoga on a regular basis. We both ate healthy vegetarian food and observed our circadian rhythm. We were not exposed to computers at night or to TV, and we were very grounded. Through yoga, my body became stronger, and I felt strong and healthy and very vital. I felt confident in my body.
Bettina: So here we are back with the body confidence piece you mentioned earlier.
Yes. I was strong and confident, and I think I was also letting go of any expectation or sense of time. I was just in the here and now, feeling strong but not focusing on getting pregnant. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen—I am not even going to think about it. It was a very subtle shift.
Since my husband did not want to have another child, we were careful not to get pregnant. However, one time we didn’t pay attention, and I got pregnant immediately. The cyst did not matter; the fact that my husband was not so sure about a second child did not matter. It happened anyway. It was really like a one-hit wonder! It’s interesting, but for many women I talk to who got pregnant in their 40s, or even 50s, it happened like this. They stopped taking precautions and got pregnant from having unprotected intercourse—all it took was just that one time.
I think it’s also a sign that, when the spirit baby is ready to come in and you are relaxed about pregnancy in body, mind, and spirit, there only needs to be a small window of opportunity. I truly believe what the author of Spirit Babies writes: “When a soul wants to come in, it will come in no matter what!” It actually also happened to us again in getting pregnant with our daughter, our third child. I was 44 at the time, and I know exactly when she was conceived. I even joked afterward, “Oh, don’t worry; you know what they say about the chances at my age.” So much for listening to mainstream advice.
Bettina: Are you up for child number four?
I love having children, but I feel called to do other things now. I just turned 47, and I often forget how old I even am. I am totally sure that I could easily get pregnant again. So, my answer is that I think we are done, but we are still careful.
To find out more about Claudia and her AWESOME mommy and child retreats in Europe, Bali, India and other beautiful places, please visit http://www.holymama.info/
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