OK, I know you’ve heard it all before, the pregnancy statistics over 40 are dismal. As far as I’m concerned, statistics are for statisticians. What about the fact that the number of unintended pregnancies in women between 40 and 44 is second only to teenagers? Many women in their 40’s think their too old to get pregnant, they get a little lax with their birth control, and bingo!
I would venture to guess most women over 40 aren’t trying to get pregnant (and many have had sterilization procedures). I wonder what would happen to those statistics if all women over 40 tried to get pregnant. I think we’d all be surprised. Our society and media is so ‘age obsessed’ that women begin to believe their life is over at the age of 40 (heck, now it’s more like 35). The message is you’ll need plastic surgery, you’ll be replaced by a trophy wife, you’ll have a hard time getting employed, and your chances of having a baby are less than your chances of winning the lottery.
As far as I’m concerned, I won the lottery, but it wasn’t by luck. I was 44 when I had my daughter who, in my totally unbiased opinion, is perfect. I had a normal pregnancy and normal delivery and I conceived without fertility treatments. Yes, I’m the oldest mom at the playground, but so far, nobody’s asked me if I’m her grandmother. As a matter of fact, I’ve been asked more than once, “Are you having another?” I’m in the best shape of my life, and even though my very active daughter wears me out occasionally, I’m keeping up just fine. As a matter of fact, I remember babysitting my niece and nephew when I was in my 20’s – it wasn’t any easier back then.
Being an ‘older’ mom is such a blessing. I’m wiser, more patient, and totally skilled at dealing with the trials and tribulations of a two-year-old. I have no hidden agendas for my daughter. Since I’ve already accomplished everything I wanted to do in my life, I’m not trying to live my dreams through her. It’s her life, and I’m behind her no matter what path she takes. The comment I hear most often is, “She’s such a happy little girl.”
I will admit I had an interesting journey to parenthood. My own childhood was less than perfect. I grew up with parents who were totally mismatched leaving me with a negative impression of marriage and family. As a result, I waited until I was almost 37 to get married and didn’t even start trying to get pregnant until I was almost 38. After a year of trying on our own, we went in for fertility treatments. I spent over two years trying medications, inseminations and IVF twice. The medications and inseminations didn’t work at all, and the IVF’s ended in miscarriage and the removal of my left fallopian tube. I became disillusioned with the assembly line practice of my fertility clinic and the amount of drugs and hormones I was pumping into my system was totally inconsistent with my ‘all natural’ way of life and personal philosophy. I notified my doctor that I was moving on to ‘childfree’.
I was over 40 at this point and as if to spur me on, no matter where I went or who I talked to, I would hear yet another story of a woman giving birth in her 40’s. I met a woman at my niece’s graduation party who gave birth to triplets at the age of 45 (without fertility treatments), a tenant in our rental property all of a sudden tells me she gave birth to her son at the age of 45. A local radio personality said his mother had him at the age of 48 (before the days of fertility treatments). I was standing in the ski lift line and some teenagers behind us were laughing that their mom was going to have another baby at the age of 43. I started researching my own family history, and both my grandmothers were in their 40’s when they had their last child. I couldn’t get away from it!
I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on getting pregnant but I absolutely did not want to go through anymore fertility treatments. I started researching natural methods to enhance fertility. I quit a high stress job, I started a totally new way of eating, and I went back and confronted all the unresolved issues I had with my parents and my less-than-perfect upbringing. I also researched natural methods of balancing hormones, increasing pelvic circulation, and I changed my ‘pregnancy mindset’ through visualization and meditation.
I was shocked when I became pregnant naturally just months after completing fertility treatments. Unfortunately, I was miscarrying by the time I realized I was pregnant. Even though my miscarriage was heartbreaking, I was ecstatic to finally know I could get pregnant on my own. Now, more motivated than ever, I continued researching natural methods to enhance my fertility and I continued adding things to my ‘getting pregnant’ protocol.
To make a long story short, I got pregnant two more times, but miscarried both. Why was this happening? I had the fetal tissue examined after a D&C, and wouldn’t you know it, my baby was chromosomally normal. So much for the well-meaning condolences, “Something was probably wrong, it was a blessing”. I continued trying to get pregnant, even though I was now 43 years old. I could feel my baby hovering over me. I needed to give her life. But, when I was 43 and 11 months, I almost gave up. I thought maybe my ‘internal barometer’ was broken. I was so sure I was going to have a baby, but here I was, almost 44, and still childless. My baby was out there but I couldn’t get to her. I reluctantly decided that it was really time to move on to childfree and get on with my life.
Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. I was a little angry that I finally made a firm decision to move on to childfree, and here I was, pregnant again! I guess preparedness finally met opportunity (I think I was the healthiest human being on the planet by then). I was cautious but excited nonetheless. We decided not to tell anyone or to see a doctor until any ‘normal’ person would. I didn’t want a ‘blow by blow’ accounting of my hCG numbers or a depressing speech about the risks of pregnancy at my age. When I finally did see my doctor (one who was quite negative about women in their 40’s getting pregnant), he was bouncing off the walls with excitement! My ultrasound looked great! This one was going to make it.
The moral of my story is “trust your instincts”. If you know deep in your heart that you can do something, you probably can. I’m sure many doctors would use my story as an example of how difficult it is to have a child over 40. But, fertility treatments were probably the most detrimental factor working against me. There’s a higher incidence of tubal pregnancies with IVF and I’m sure all those injections of drugs and hormones threw the delicate balance of my reproductive system further out of whack. If I would have started my ‘all natural’ pregnancy protocol earlier, I would have saved myself years of frustration, $25,000 in fertility treatments, and I would have had both my fallopian tubes essentially doubling my chances of getting pregnant naturally. I partially blame those over-quoted statistics. I can’t tell you how many times I read that if you’re in your late 30’s or 40’s you should “run not walk” to the closest fertility clinic because time’s running out fast!
The bottom line is I overcame all of my challenges and succeeded naturally at the age of 44. So, for all you statisticians out there, I’d like to ask, “What are the odds of that?”