Meet Later Mom: Dawn Gallagher
AGE: Upper 40’s
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
RESIDENCE: New York City
CHILD’S NAME/AGE: Lucia Elisabeth Jacobsen/ 5 years old
My mission: To empower and educate women to look and feel their best at any age. I am an author of two books “Nature’s Beauty Secrets” and “Naturally Beautiful”, blogger, home shopping guest expert, event planner and mom. I travel the world, going off the beaten path looking for unique beauty and health secrets and incorporate them into my everyday lifestyle to share with women. I am also an experienced event planner and Co-chairs fashion galas for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital every year. Visit www.dawngallagher.com.
What was your road to parenthood like? Since the age of 5 years old, I always knew to be a mommy. As a teenager, I had a babysitting job taking care of an 8 month old and I loved it. At 17, I was discovered by a local model scout, ended up in NYC as a model and traveling all over the world. I was very ambitious and wanted to be successful and independent, so I put marriage plans and children on the back burner.
It wasn’t until I was 40 that I met the love of my life. We married and started trying to get pregnant right away. I thought it would be easy for me to get pregnant, after all, I could still fit into my skinny jeans so how hard would it be to get pregnant? Wrong! After several years of trying, 6 miscarriages and several IVF attempts I was exhausted. Finally, I remember having 3 frozen embryos left and telling my husband that this was it. If it didn’t work, we were not meant to be parents. The doctor thawed the 3 embryos and implanted one. The other two did not make the thaw. I remember crying to my husband Glade that there was no way the one inside me was going to work since the other two did not make it. So we decided to just have fun, drink a bottle of wine and forget about it. I stopped taking all my medicine.
Two weeks later when I didn’t get my period, I thought it was because of stress. Another week went by, and I decided to buy a home pregnancy test, although I was sure I wasn’t pregnant. I almost fell on the floor… two pink lines! I didn’t tell anyone for months, I was still pinching myself until the day I gave birth.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? The positive for me is that I have all this incredible life experience and wisdom I can share with my daughter. I am not trying to build a career, so I can have fun with her and really enjoy our time together. I also have more patience.
The challenges would be that I am probably more tired than if I was younger although I try to keep myself in good shape. Most nights I’m in bed by 9:00!
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? What do you love the most about it? I think what surprised me the most is that I thought I knew so much about raising a child. I have now realized there is no cookie cutter approach and that every child is so different. You have to be flexible and try to always figure out what is best for them and take your ego out of it. We are trying to expose her to many different things and what she seems to gravitate towards we help foster that.
What I love most about being a mom is the cuddles and the “I love you mommy” moments that melt my heart. Plus she draws the funniest pictures of her and I doing silly things together. She makes me laugh every day and her laughter is contagious.
Can you share a funny or AHA parenting moment with our readers? A recent AHA moment was when my daughter Lucia woke me up in the middle of the night crying and wanted to know why a little boy in her class did not want to marry her. He wanted to hang out with the boys instead. I thought wow, it really starts this early?!! Also, I wish people without kids would stop giving parenting advice. You don’t know until you have one!
What do you most want to teach your daughter? To be kind, to be fair, and to be safe. Something she is also learning in school, but we talk about it at home all the time. I want her to know about other cultures and countries and how fortunate we are to live here and be able to speak our mind. That we live in a democracy. Women in other countries are not so lucky and to never take that for granted. To love herself and others, to be independent, but especially to be her goofy silly self!
What does your daughter think of your work? My daughter really likes when I am on TV and watches QVC when I am on. She wants to be the one to pick out my dress. Some of the pictures in my new book are of her and she likes that. LOL
What inspired you to write your books? I studied cultural anthropology in school, and I find other countries and cultures fascinating. I liked how the definition of beauty was so different culture to culture. In my first book “Naturally Beautiful,” I wrote about my travels and beauty secrets from around the world. In my second book “Nature’s Beauty Secrets,” the focus was spas from around the world and how you can have a 5 star treatment in the comfort of your own home. We moms need pampering!
What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting? I come from a family of 10 including my parents. A big Irish family and my parents worked very hard to raise us. I was taught very early to be independent. You have to be coming from a family of 10! So my parent’s biggest influence on me was to be independent, be responsible and if you want something bad enough you will figure out a way to get it. That’s how I lived my life.
Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? I have a pretty strong group of mommy friends I hang out with on a regular basis, and I think it’s so important. We share ideas, questions, and give each over all support. We know this is the toughest job in the world! Every Friday, we’ll have playdate where one of the moms will host at her home then rotate at another moms the following week. We have a glass of wine while the kids run around and we laugh and share stories. Often it turns into a big pizza party.
An organization like Motherhood Later…Thank Sooner is fantastic for older moms and later families so we can connect and share stories. I love reading other stories and what families have been through. It’s also a great resource of information and support.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? That parenting is never easy no matter what age you are but the rewards are fantastic. If it’s your dream, go for it, and don’t give up. It will happen! I am right now in the process of helping a friend get pregnant through embryo donation. Something I know a lot about and have helped many women achieve who could not get pregnant or did not have the finances for adoption or IVF. It’s a fantastic alternative, not expensive and no wait time! I love helping people achieve their dreams of parenthood.
When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? The advice that really resonated and that I will share with my daughter is to go after her dreams and never give up.