Age when you gave birth: 41
State of residence: New Jersey
Child’s name: Chad
Current or former profession: Social Worker
How long were you trying to get pregnant?
We were trying to get pregnant for about 8 months and we got pregnant naturally in March 2010. Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 10 weeks. We began trying again in the Fall of 2010 and conceived our son in July 2011.
What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 40?
Initially, when we were first trying to conceive (when I was 39), we didn’t do anything. Then we began to do BBT charting, ovulation kits and all that goes along with trying to conceive naturally. That is when we conceived the first time. After the miscarriage, we started out pretty much the same. Neither one of us was chomping at the bit to pursue the medical route to conceiving but it became clear to us that if we wanted to be parents, we needed to at least explore all of the available options.
So in April of 2011, we began looking into adoption. We were (and still are) interested in welcoming a child from the foster care system into our family. My husband has always wanted to adopt. I can’t say it’s something I always wanted to do, but I am certainly open to it; especially given all of the children that languish in the foster care system without ever knowing the love and nurturing of a family. It wasn’t about us having a biological child, necessarily. It was about sharing the love we had in our hearts with a child who really needed it.
We also decided to get information about where we were medically, too. In May of 2011, we decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to get the preliminary testing. My husband had a semen analysis and I had my hormones tested and a hysterosalpingogram.
My husband’s sperm count was normal and my tests were normal for “my age.” We were given the “unexplained infertility” diagnosis that is both hopeful and infuriating!! The RE did not feel we needed to do anything aggressive because I did not have any barriers truly preventing me from becoming pregnant. We were presented with the option of doing rounds of Clomid with an intrauterine insemination. I should pause here to say that my husband and I are people with a strong Christian faith. We’d always believed that if the Lord wanted to bless us with a family, He would do so in His way and in His timing. This we were clear on.
Venturing into the realm of medically assisted conception was concerning for us because we wanted to be careful not to tread in His territory, so to speak. After much prayer and seeking godly counsel, we came to the conclusion that our inability to conceive was a medical issue, just like diabetes or asthma (conditions my husband and I have, respectively). We seek available treatment for that to live healthy lives. That is how we believe God provides treatment/healing through the knowledge and wisdom He gives medical personnel. So we felt comfortable with this level of treatment to address our inability to conceive. And the bottom line to us was that if it wasn’t His will, no amount of treatment would allow us to conceive. So we went forward and conceived our son on the first round of treatment. Our RE marveled because he said that it was exceedingly rare.
How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
That was truly a mixed bag. I felt decidedly unsupported during my first regular OB visit. My OB is a nononsense, blunt kind of doctor, something I was not particularly appreciative of during my first OB visit, after a miscarriage, and being of “advanced maternal age.” I was expecting her to congratulate me and to be excited with me. Instead, she let me know that because of my age I had a 50% chance of miscarrying during the first trimester and I had an increased chance of having a child with a birth defect because I was 40. She was appalled that my husband and I were opting not to have any invasive testing done. She related a story of how one of her patients “foolishly” didn’t have testing and was devastated when her child was born with Down Syndrome.
I explained to her that my husband and I were committed to this pregnancy no matter. The testing would only serve to add additional anxiety. I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy and I didn’t want to risk, however small, an invasive test that could cause a miscarriage. After my first appointment, I literally cried in the parking lot!
On the other hand, I absolutely LOVED my perinatalogist. He was a kind, older OB who was very experienced with older moms. He made my pregnancy seem like the most natural thing in the world despite being a doctor that specializes in high risk pregnancies. He was so encouraging and reassuring. And most importantly, he respected our decision to not do any invasive tests.
Did you change doctors or would like to have changed doctors? Why or why not?
I came very close to changing OB’s. I attempted to make an appointment with an OB that a doctor friend recommended but I would have been 16 weeks along before she could see me. So I decided to stay with the practice I was already with. I reasoned that I only had a 25% chance of delivering with the OB I had a negative experience with and I liked the other OB’s and NP’s in the practice. As the months passed, I realized I needed to at least see this other “dreaded” OB to get to know her in case she did end up delivering our baby.
As I got to know her, I actually grew to appreciate her forthrightness. I found her to be much more confident and accurate in her assessments than the other OB’s. I truly trusted her competency. I wouldn’t choose her to be my friend but I did choose her to deliver my baby when I found out I had to have a scheduled c-section!
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told me about your pregnancy?
Overjoyed!! Everyone was supportive, excited, and hopeful!
LABOR AND DELIVERY
Did you take any childbirth classes? Why or why not?
We opted to take childbirth classes because at the time, I didn’t know if I would have natural childbirth or have an epidural. We felt that even if we decided to go with an epidural, the breathing techniques would be helpful to cope with labor. Little did we know we wouldn’t need it at all!
At 36 weeks I was informed that my little sweet pea (as we called him) was more like a lima bean and that I would need to have a C-section. They estimated that he was at least 9 pounds and could be anywhere up to 11. Since I’d never given birth before, they had some major concerns about shoulder dystocia. I delivered my son via planned C-section 5 days before his official due date. He weighed 9.5 lbs.
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
Two things: It was (and still is) mind boggling. It truly is a miracle of God. One moment your child is inside of you. He is more of a notion than a reality. The next moment you have this living, breathing person in front of you.. The other is that it’s weird not knowing what labor or contractions feel like. After 9 months of waiting, I didn’t have to (get to) experience what is usually the culmination of pregnancy. I’m not complaining. It’s just weird.
I AM MOM
What concerns you most about being a mom over 35 and how do you address these concerns?
Living long enough to see my son grow up and have his own family is a great concern to me. I address it by taking care of the things that are within my control. I am trying to lose weight, exercise and eat healthier. The rest of it is in God’s hands!
What do you enjoy most about being an older mom?
Having never been a younger mom, it’s difficult to know how it’s different but I think that I am wiser (or at least I hope so). I don’t feel like I’m missing anything as a younger woman might think. I think having experienced infertility and a loss has more of an impact on my enjoyment in being a mother than my age. This is something I longed for. That longing has been fulfilled and I am enjoying being a mom way more than I could have dreamed or imagined. It truly brings me joy. I am grateful every single day. I see my child as a blessing, not a burden.
How has becoming a mom changed you?
It has made me slow down and live in the moment more. There is no “rush, rush, rush” with a baby. I am less selfish.
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 35?
Don’t focus on the increased odds of having a child with birth defects. At 40, your chances of having a baby with Down Syndrome goes from significantly less than 1 % to like 2%. Yes, but that still means that you have a 98% chance of having a baby without Down Syndrome. All negative statistics have a positive flip side. Focus on that!