Well I know you’ve heard it all before, pregnancy statistics over 40 are lousy. As far as I’m concerned, statistics are for statisticians. What about the fact that the number of unwanted pregnancies in women between 40 and 44 is second only to teenagers? Many women in their 40s think they are too old to get pregnant, they relax a bit on their birth control and bingo!
I would venture to assume that most women over the age of 40 do not attempt to get pregnant (and many have undergone sterilization procedures). I wonder what would happen to those statistics if all women over 40 try Get pregnant. I think we would all be surprised. Our society and the media are so “age obsessed” that women begin to believe their life is over at the age of 40 (heck, it’s more like 35 now). The message is that you will need plastic surgery, you will be replaced by a trophy wife, you will have a hard time getting a job, and your chances of having a baby are less than your chances of winning the lottery.
As for me, I won the lottery, but it was not 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 conceived without fertility treatments. Yes, I am the oldest mother on the playground, but so far no one has asked me if I am their grandmother. In fact, I’ve been asked more than once: “Are you going to have another one?” I’m in the best shape of my life, and although my very active daughter wears me down from time to time, I’m fine. In fact, I remember babysitting my niece and nephew when I was 20 years old; then it was not easier.
Being an “older” mother is a great blessing. I am wiser, more patient, and fully adept at dealing with the trials and tribulations of a two-year-old. I have no hidden agendas for my daughter. Since I have already accomplished everything I wanted to do in my life, I am not trying to live my dreams through it. It is her life and I am behind her no matter which path she takes. The comment I hear most often is, “She’s such a happy girl.”
I must admit that I had an interesting journey towards parenthood. My own childhood was not perfect. I grew up with parents who did not fully agree, leaving me with a negative impression of marriage and family. As a result, I waited until almost 37 to get married and didn’t even start trying to get pregnant until almost 38. After a year of trying on our own, we decided to undergo fertility treatments. I spent over two years testing drugs, inseminations, and IVF twice. Medications and inseminations didn’t work at all, and IVF ended in a miscarriage and removal of my left fallopian tube. I became disillusioned with my fertility clinic assembly line practice and the amount of drugs and hormones I was injecting into my system was totally inconsistent with my way of life and my personal ‘all-natural’ philosophy. I notified my doctor that I was transitioning to “childless.”
I was in my 40s at the time and, as if to cheer me up, it didn’t matter where I went or who I spoke to, I was hearing another story of a woman who gave birth at 40. I met a woman at my niece’s prom Having given birth to triplets at the age of 45 (without fertility treatments), a tenant of our rental property suddenly tells me that she gave birth to her son at the age of 45. Local radio host said his mother had him at the age of 48 (before the days of fertility treatments). I was standing on the 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 of my grandmothers were 40 when they had their last child. I couldn’t get away from it!
I realized that I wasn’t ready to give up on getting pregnant, but I didn’t want to go through any more fertility treatments. I started researching natural methods to improve fertility. I quit a very stressful job, started a whole new way of eating, and came back and faced all the unsolved issues I had with my parents and my less than perfect upbringing. I also researched natural methods to balance hormones, increase pelvic circulation, and changed my ‘pregnancy mindset’ through visualization and meditation.
I was surprised when I got naturally pregnant just a few months after completing fertility treatments. Unfortunately, I was miscarrying when I realized I was pregnant. Even though my miscarriage was heartbreaking, I was ecstatic to finally learn that I could get pregnant on my own. Now, more motivated than ever, I kept researching natural methods to improve my fertility and kept adding things to my “get pregnant” protocol.
To make a long story short, I got pregnant two more times, but miscarried both times. Why was this happening? I had my fetal tissue examined after a D&C, and they don’t know? My baby was chromosomally normal. So far the well-meaning condolences, “Something was probably wrong, it was a blessing.” I kept trying to get pregnant, even though I was now 43 years old. I could feel my baby floating above me. I needed to give him life. But, when I was 43 and 11 months old, 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 that I was pregnant. I was a little pissed off that I finally made a firm decision to move on to Childfree, and here I was, pregnant again! I guess the preparation finally met the opportunity (I think by then I was the healthiest human being on the planet). I was cautious but excited anyway. We decided not to tell anyone or see a doctor until any “normal” person did. I didn’t want a ‘blow-by-blow’ tally of my hCG numbers or a depressing speech about the risks of pregnancy at my age. When I finally saw my doctor (one who was pretty negative about 40 year old women getting pregnant), I 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 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 the fertility treatments were probably the most damaging factor that hurt me. There is a higher incidence of tubal pregnancies with IVF and I am sure that all those injections of drugs and hormones further upset the delicate balance of my reproductive system. If I had started my ‘all natural’ pregnancy protocol earlier, it would have saved me years of frustration, $ 25,000 in fertility treatments, and my two fallopian tubes would have essentially doubled my chances of getting pregnant naturally. I partly blame those over-quoted statistics. I can’t tell you how many times I read that if you are between 30 and 40 you should “run, not walk” to the nearest fertility clinic, because time is running out fast!
The bottom line is that I overcame all my challenges and made it through naturally at the age of 44. So for all of you statisticians, I’d like to ask, “What are the odds of that?”