Meet Later-in-Life Mother Suziette Ukey-Agazie: Interview by Robin Gorman Newman


YOUR NAME: Suziette Ukey-Agazie
AGE: 42
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
NAMES/AGES OF CHILDREN: Wayne/23 and Warren/2
RESIDENCE: Lagos,  Nigeria

I love to tell stories and as such, have written for an array of mediums. I have over 10 years experience writing for the stage, advertising and creative writing. I also blog, create content for social media, have written a biography (Fixing Stereotype, my way) and am presently writing an inspirational book for a client plus a storybook for Nigerian Children in the diaspora (historical).

I started a movement for older motherhood in Nigeria due to the stigma and poor medical attention the status attracts.  I am building a community and creating awareness through our blog www.momat4ty.com.

The passion to take it further drew me to Motherhood Later …Than Sooner, and I am the head of their newest chapter recently launched in Lagos, Nigeria.

What was your road to pregnancy like? I was not prepared for my second child (same as my first…LOL). We had talked about having a baby, so when I got pregnant we were happy. It was stressful and painful, though, as I had a nagging pain on my left side. We had two scans done but nothing was found, as I had feared an ectopic pregnancy. Weeks later, we lost the pregnancy.  Six months later, we were pregnant again. I had just started working in a financial institution, my first in such corporate organization, so it was a demanding time for me.

I was not sleeping well (had insomnia.. but it got worse) and as the pregnancy grew, I lost my breath and had to wheeze almost through it all. Thankfully, it was not serious though. In my third trimester, I had swollen feet which scared my sister, as she is an older mom too. She sent me straight to the doctor, and for the first time, I heard the words ‘older mom’ and ‘high risk pregnancy,’ and that started the whole new world of motherhood for me.

You live in Lagos, Nigeria….what has been your experience becoming a “later” mom there? It has been a tough one, as Nigeria’s health sector is not well developed, so it has no room or should I say no real understanding of older motherhood.  The medical teams are not prepared for it and as such, we experienced complications that might have been otherwise avoided.

Many here unfortunately frown upon ambitious women, and when you have a baby late for the first time, you are almost seen as committing a crime to the child. If you are having another child after your 30s, especially your 40s, you are almost seen as evil. You are meant to have babies at a young age, sit at home and take care of them – education has really not changed us that much.

So as much as I found it exciting, sometimes I get backlash and thank God for my personality and age, I stand up and let them know there is nothing wrong with being a later mom. I celebrate older motherhood because whether by choice or circumstance, it is great being a mom.

Is it challenging to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits, and what is your strategy?  Yes, I find it very challenging especially during this COVID season.  When you leave your child with caregivers (In Nigeria they are not well-groomed), they hardly do as you say 100% and so you see yourself doing most of the things you entrusted to them.

As for personal life, it was hard to manage at first as I am used to being on my own and making spontaneous decisions.  Now, I have to think and calculate all the risk before taking one…LOL. For some time, I could not hangout with friends as I didn’t want to take my baby with me. When he turned one, I still could not, as I was scared of running around after him and stopping him from scattering stuff. I had to give up my job as it was taking a toll on my health – not easy having a baby and keeping a high demanding job when over 40.

Now I am basically freelancing but looking for a 9/5 that isn’t as demanding as a bank.

I have a caregiver who helps me around the house (3 times a week) and another who takes care of my baby and my house when the other isn’t coming. When schools closed due to Covid, I got a pre-school lesson teacher to keep him company and busy with educational stuff so I get to do my work, and we both end at 4 pm. We have our time together until 7/8 pm when I go back briefly to work and he, his cartoons. In between we have our meals. We even go for walks at least 3 times in the week (short walks though, one needs to be careful). During the weekend, my hubby helps with giving him a bath while I relax and then we watch movies together.

My older son lives on his own. We catch up mostly with video calls as he is very busy at work.

What are the positives and challenges of having a child over 35?  The positive is enormous; I had my first baby at 17. I was younger and more energetic but lost and scared of the prospect as a new mother. Thanks to my mom and big sisters, as they took care of him until I was in my 20s and mature enough to take care of a child. With my second child, I was very prepared emotionally and mentally. We bonded on a mother and son level (with my first we bonded like siblings…LOL), and I am learning and experiencing new things as I did not with my first. I make more informed decisions especially on how I want him to grow – feeding, clothing, emotional and physical well-being. I am also more financially capable of making decisions and can manage his tantrums without getting overwhelmed.  I cry less compared to my experience with my first son.

The challenge is I have experienced so far has to do with my career. I was almost at the peak but had to give it up.  It actually made me realize that family is everything. I also found out I had missed out on some aspect of life that has to do with having a child in my 20s.  For example, my first is in his 20s and out of our home so I could live my life, but now, I am going through the parental life again and will only retire in my late 50s or early 60s.  That is a long wait…LOL!

What do you most want to teach your sons? To be God fearing, caring, independent and to believe in themselves. I also want to teach them to have fun, live life, build things, create value for humanity, be greater than you think you can be. Explore the world. My first son was born an introvert but today, he is an ambivert. My second is so obviously an extrovert like his mom.

Do you have memories from childhood that inspire you to make memories with your sons? Yes, I remember my parents dancing with us, going to the beach together, praying and reading the bible together, learning how to paint together and taking lots of pictures. Parents nowadays do not have time for their children.  My parents ensured we were all together every weekend doing something special. I am working tirelessly to ensure we have that in our home.

We were encouraged to be who we are, to have strong personalities and most especially, that we girls have value and should never look down at our gender. I am teaching my boys to respect women, dislike cheating, especially in relationships, and not have any habits that Africans/Nigerians term just for male or just for female. Like my first son cooks and can clean up the house. Nigerians believe it is a woman’s job to cook and clean up, which is not a positive belief for young girls. I did not grow up like that and have no intention of grooming my children that way.

How do you practice good self care and role model for your sons? I let them see and take part in my activities while explaining why.  For example, I do aerobics at least 3 times a day, I drink lots of water and ensure the space around me is always neat and arranged (I think I have OCD though…LOL).  My first son is neat, organized and focused. He is also health conscious and reads a lot. I am teaching my toddler this too… especially to read.  Nigerians are known not to read, but my parents taught me to love knowledge and so my children will too.

I also ensure I work at home 9 – 5 with short breaks in between so they know how to be disciplined and not take time for granted. I also teach them bad habits (You know all work and no play makes you a dull one…LOL). Every Friday, I spend time with friends or just with my spouse.  My kids need to understand that socialization is a vital part of life.

What words of wisdom would you share for someone contemplating parenthood over age 35? Go do it!  It will be the best decision you will ever make because that ache you feel can only be filled with a child. Trust me, the right time is older.

 

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  1. 16 Responses to “Meet Later-in-Life Mother Suziette Ukey-Agazie: Interview by Robin Gorman Newman”

  2. Beautiful😚

    By Brenda on Jun 5, 2020

  3. This was a lovely read. I learnt a great deal. I am still in my late 20s and considering to only have kids when I am mentally ready. This has has given me so much clearity. Thank you. Continue to be awesome Sush♡

    By Meoti on Jun 5, 2020

  4. As a family friend, I met Wayne first before meeting him mom, Suzie. She is an awesome Mom and I glad she achieved her quest for a new baby on getting hitched. The movement she started is real because this segment of female population need support for the challenges ghey face being pregnant at that age. More grease on your elbows Suzie.

    By Nubi Achebo on Jun 5, 2020

  5. Thanks for sharing.
    Not so many women think of experiencing motherhood after age 35, based on different different studies and also sometimes being scared of the consequences.
    You’ve given a positive response to their thoughts and concerns.
    Awesome.

    By Mitchelle on Jun 5, 2020

  6. Thanks for sharing.
    Not so many women think of experiencing motherhood after age 35, based on different studies and also sometimes being scared of the consequences.
    You’ve given a positive response to their thoughts and concerns.
    Awesome.

    By Mitchelle on Jun 5, 2020

  7. I enjoyed reading this. I am glad you are able to find somewhat of a balance. Wishing you the best in all your endeavors. You are truly an inspiration.

    By Esther A on Jun 5, 2020

  8. Lovely piece Mama. You know it and know how to drop it

    By Kingsley Itiose on Jun 5, 2020

  9. You got me with the “do it older” motivation. Nice one Suziette.

    By Adeola Adejokun on Jun 5, 2020

  10. Im sincerely happy for you, while thanking God for your strength.

    By David Christian on Jun 5, 2020

  11. Interesting read. I love that you make out time to create family memories every weekend. I also had my last child at 39 and one of the pros as Sush mentioned is that you are more mature and deliberate with raising the child.

    By Mofolusade Sonaike on Jun 6, 2020

  12. Motherhood is a sweet experience but also with it’s own pressure.
    Having a second child at a late age is not easy, kudos for being a strong woman

    By Mohammed Salisu on Jun 6, 2020

  13. This is inspiring and a positive vibe for all older mom and even to younger moms.

    By Ennie on Jun 6, 2020

  14. Congratulations on both your experiences and the woman you have become. I have younger mothers would learn about balancing life as a career woman, a mother and an house wife. You seem to be tenacious in what you want. It’s good to read the values you are instilling in your sons. Kindly add that of respect for women and that they should never raise up their hands against any woman. Well done. Quite an interesting read.

    By NAB on Jun 6, 2020

  15. Interesting read👏🏼👏🏼

    By Jennifer on Jun 6, 2020

  16. I know Sush for almost a year now. She is a great friend and an intelligent human being.
    Her writing skills are extremely good and articulation of words is impressive. God Bless her always. Cheers

    By Rajeev Dua on Jun 7, 2020

  17. Very interesting and helpful

    By Mirabel on Jun 7, 2020

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