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The early pregnancy experience of women over 30 offers paradigmatic evidence which supports the significance of persistence for the study of nursing phenomenon Pregnancy and first-time motherhood have come to be associated with change, growth and development This research, which was undertaken to describe the changes experienced by older primiparous women during early pregnancy, illustrates how research grounded in a particular paradigm, in this case the growth or developmental paradigm, can limit the interpretation of data When viewed from a developmental perspective, women in this sample were seen as resistant to change and could be said to be having trouble ‘adapting’ to their impending motherhood However, when these women were viewed from the perspective of stability they were seen to engage in activities that allowed them to persist in their current self-view In the biological sciences, persistence refers to a compensatory process which allows a system to maintain goal-directedness in spite of both internal and external disturbances Women in this sample used balancing and buffering to continue their self-patterns Balancing represented the verbal and behavioural processes women engaged in to integrate their experience of themselves as pregnant into their sense of themselves as not pregnant Buffering included those activities that women used to maintain a sense of themselves in the face of the threat posed by their impending motherhood Balancing and buffering represent mechanisms used in the service of persistence and reflect pattern maintenance activities