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For the first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I spent a little too much time obsessing about my “advanced maternal age“. You know how the Internet can be. It’s a wealth of information, but sometimes it’s full of so many warnings and horror stories that it can start messing with your mind.
I remember reading one of the more reassuring articles that I had found online, which explained that many women are now starting families at the age of 40. A woman’s 40s are the new 20s, the story said.
But then I got to the last line of that article. It said something like this: “Having a baby in your 40s is safer than once thought; but it’s not recommended.”
Not recommended? It’s not like I’m trying to decide whether to bounce on a trampoline with my shoes on our ride a bike without a helmet. The deal is sealed, whether it’s recommended or not.
Those first few weeks, my mind was constantly trying to think of examples of people I knew in real life who had given birth in their 40s.
Wasn’t So-And-So’s sister-in-law 45 when she had her first child? And then there’s Kathy. I’m pretty sure she was 40. My friend from high school is pregnant and she’s almost 40. Oh, and then there’s that guy my husband knows. They are trying to get pregnant for the first time, and they are probably getting close to 40.
In the evenings, I would shout out to my husband between bowls of ice cream and plates of scrambled eggs: “Honey! Remember your Aunt So-And-So?!? How old do you think she was when she had cousin Sally?!”
He would get out his family history book and we would use birth dates to determine the maternal age of all of the nice, respectable, attractive family members who had been born to a mother in her 40s.
Then he would remind me: “You were 39 when you got pregnant. So, you were in your 30s!”
Several times, I went back and read this post by Antique Mommy. I had remembered reading it a few months earlier. It seemed really sweet at the time. But it was like a comfy blanket to me now. I could wrap those words around my mind and warm myself in their assuring tone.
About a month later, I finally told the women in my Bible study that I was pregnant. This was only the second time I had said the words out loud (other than telling my husband). I was so full of emotion, that a floodgate burst open, and I started crying hysterically.
Those poor sweet women. It’s one thing to see someone with tears in her eyes. But when someone breaks down into a full-blown blubbering cry, it’s a little unsettling, I’m sure.
After my wailing grew quiet enough that anyone could hear herself speak, two of the women reassured me that they were 40 when they had their youngest. One of the women has five beautiful children, and the other woman’s daughter was also in our study. Her incredible daughter is 40 now herself.
Another friend told me her mother had her eighth child when she was 40. I was on Facebook later that week and saw a picture of my friend’s sister, the one her mother had when she was 40.
“She’s soooo beautiful,” I thought, as yet again, I cried. “What if she had not been born?”
Thank you, God, for your kindness to me. Thank you for surrounding me that day with these women who knew what I was going through. And for sending reassurance that it would be OK.
After that, I stopped reading articles on the Internet about advanced maternal age. But if you know of any great stories of people born to a 40-year-old mom, they always make me smile!