Thirty-Five and On the Edge
When my mother was thirty-eight years old, she became pregnant with my brother. This was thirty-one years ago and technology was different back then. The doctors wanted to stick a long needle into her belly and test the amniotic fluid. They were worried at her age that there would be complications with her pregnancy, that my brother would be deformed or even worse be born with Down’s Syndrome.
Fearing the needle would pierce his little embryo, she flat out refused. And of course he turned out fine.
I am turning thirty-five years old in approximately two weeks. They say that after thirty-five years old, the complications of having a baby increases dramatically. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, older women are at a higher risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Also, the risk of having a child with a birth defect due to an extra, missing or damaged chromosome increased with age as well. My eggs may also be less viable too, as fertility decreases rapidly with age. We have a fixed number of eggs in our ovaries and the number goes down over time.
By age thirty-five, I have really reached an accelerated phase of my life where the question to have a child or not becomes even more important. Granted, I have known people who have had healthy children in their forties, but risks aside, I don’t think that I would want to be an older mother with less energy and vitality to give my kid.
I recently read an article in Time Magazine, which reiterated the fact that the number of women having kids later in life continues to increase. When I think about my own mother, she had her first child when she was thirty and this was not by choice but circumstance. Some doctors told her that she may not be able to bear a child to full term.
When my mom was thirty-four years old, she already had a four year old and a newborn. Managing two young children is a lot of work and she was often taking care of them on her own while my father was at business trips or working overtime to bring home the bacon. It’s strange thinking that I could also have been in her position.
And here I am at thirty-five, enjoying my freedom.
I’m conflicted because there’s so much pressure to have a kid these days. I know that more and more women are waiting to have them and they are prioritizing their careers, but still. It seems as though a lot of people want to judge you silently (or not so silently) and tell you that you are not on the path that you should be.
When my father would tell me “just wait until you have kids” in this knowing way, I sometimes wanted to scream.
So this birthday, I am doing myself a favor and relaxing a bit. There are so many societal expectations to have made it by a certain age. I’m really not scared of entering this new stage of life. Anyway, at the very least, I can always freeze my eggs if we end up deciding to have kids.
How about you? Do you feel your clock ticking now that you are over a certain age?