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I had my first child at 26. I always assumed that I would have one or two more but things just weren’t meant to be with my son’s biological father. After we split up when my son was just shy of a year old, I was single by choice for the next five years. During that time, I still wanted at least one more but was starting to wonder if it just wasn’t in the cards for me.
At 32 I met my (now) husband and we took things relatively slow. We waited for a year and a half or so to move in together. A year after that, we got married. A month after our first anniversary, we decided to try to have a baby.
Everything I read about getting pregnant over 35, staying pregnant, and having a healthy outcome was so dismal. It became depressing and kind of scary for someone like me who has anxiety issues anyway. Then one night in February, at the advanced gestational age of 36½, we decided to give it a try. Two weeks later I had a positive pregnancy test, which was a huge shock since I kept hearing about how hard it was to get pregnant at my age. Yet here we were, pregnant without even really trying.
At that time, I would have loved to find a few articles that told me that most likely, everything would be perfectly fine. Just one thing that didn’t tell me how old I was and how decrepit my eggs were. Not many positive articles seem to exist despite that fact that now, more than ever, couples are waiting until their thirties to even think about starting a family. The medical community seems to still be in the stone age about maternal age.
Then there are the OB appointments where they tell you how old you are (thanks, pal) and offer you every test under the sun for chromosomal and other abnormalities since you’re so, you know, OLD. One of my providers actually used the term geriatric maternal age. Yes, they said this to a hormonal pregnant woman which takes some serious guts. For real.
What they DON’T say in all of their statistics and scary talk is that at my age, there was actually less than a 1% chance of having any chromosomal abnormalities. In fact, it was about a .25% chance of having a chromosomal abnormality. Except in pregnancy, when does a doctor ever consider a .25% chance of anything being of any real risk, or risky enough to warrant a myriad of invasive tests?!
In light of this, we declined an amnio which had a higher risk of miscarriage than we had of having a baby with Down Syndrome. Seriously. Think about that for a second. We did opt for the less invasive nuchal scan which came out fine so we didn’t get any additional testing done.
See that? A perfectly healthy baby boy, despite his mother being there for the invention of the wheel.
The point of this post isn’t to rub anything in the face of women who are having difficulty. It’s also not to say that women over 35 who are having a hard time or didn’t have an optimal outcome are doing anything wrong. My point is to let women who are considering getting pregnant over 35 know that the vast majority of pregnancies have a positive outcome.
It isn’t always difficult and the outcome isn’t always (or even often) the worst-case scenario. So don’t let the medical community make you feel like you should be shopping for a walker and Geritol. You’re NOT old and, most likely, you will have a perfectly healthy baby.
If my grandmother can get pregnant over 35 and have two healthy children in the early 1960s, then surely most women today can and will. Just follow your doctor’s advice. If you are worried about whether or not a pregnancy would be harmful to your health, please be sure to visit with your physician and have a physical before beginning to try getting pregnant.