Well, when I fell pregnant I was actually 41 if we’re being pedantic about it. Haha. A year makes all the difference now doesn’t it?
As the double test strips turned a vibrant blue my internal dialogue went into overdrive, ‘hang on, I’m 42. Oh no. No. Wait. I’m 41 and a half. Born in 1974. So, I’m nearly 42. 41 just now but I’m nearly 42. I’ll be 42 when I give birth. Right yes 42 when I have the baby’.
I genuinely had to work out my age. It made me half smile. Having to calculate how old I am. Such a stereotype.
Immediately I google ‘celebs baby after 40.’
This helped. Try it, great results and loads of them. I cheered quite a bit. I breathed easier. Plenty of them older than 42 as well. Susan Sarandon was 45 when she had her third and Halle Berry was an extremely fabulous 47 when she welcomed her second baby into the world. Phew. Not bad company to be among really.
I paused … my sensible head told me that the celeb thing is not real. It helped to see happy endings though as pregnancy over 40 can be such a negative subject. I didn’t want to read the ‘increased risk’ articles. Not right then. I decided not to google any further. All that could wait. It wasn’t going to change anything at that moment. So, I placed my phone firmly out of reach and decide to let it sink in.
Fast forward to today and at the time of writing I’m 27 weeks pregnant and I don’t think about my age, at all. For me my ‘advanced maternal age’ has just never been an issue. And nobody has made it so. After I did the home test I had the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor who pointed out, ‘yes you’re pregnant, those tests don’t lie’. She also went through the motions; height, weight, history, due dates and gave me the ‘don’t eat soft cheese’ lecture. All the while I waited for her to mention my age. She didn’t. As I rose to leave the appointment I stuttered out some words about being 42 and pregnant and and and …
Quick as flash the doctor looked right at me and said, ‘Oh don’t be ridiculous. Thousands of women in their 40s have babies every day. It’s fine,’ and that was that. Not even a discussion. I felt relieved.
I did have the First Trimester Screening at 12 weeks. This combines a blood analysis with an ultrasound and provides you with the risk factor for certain chromosomal abnormalities. I admit I did work myself up into a fit of tears just prior to the screening results. I guess this was partly a 40-something panic but no one, no matter what age they are can really know what’s been going on inside their body with the teeny life that’s forming. I mean we do a test, it says positive and we go about our life as a newly pregnant woman. We can’t actually see everything is OK. Sadly, for some woman, at the first scan complications are discovered. And that’s partly why I teared up beforehand. It wasn’t all about my age.
According to statistics, pregnancy rates for over 40s have more than doubled in the past 27 years. Why should this be? Well we can all speculate but it’s only as individuals we ever understand the choices we make. Perhaps we’re waiting until we’re financially secure and own our home, some prefer to scale the career ladder then take time out to have a family. For some maybe it’s taken longer to the find ‘the one.’ We don’t tend to marry our teenage sweethearts anymore. The world is a smaller place, we travel more, we meet more people. Altogether there are many more experiences accessible to us all and these invariably impact life’s major decisions.
It was never, ever in my life plan to have a baby at 42. It wasn’t until my son was around 6 years old (I was 39) and I was having morning coffee with fellow school mums with their toddlers that I began to think, ‘should we have another?’ Is this the right time? I’m having coffee with these mothers and their little ones, so if I had a wee one it wouldn’t upset my life really. It would fit in quite nicely. From that point on it became a question mark, ‘am I finished?’ Not something I spent time brooding over though. ‘If it happened, it happened’ and this became the standard response to questions from others.
And what do you know? It happened.
Interestingly women over 40 have an unintended pregnancy rate that’s second only to very young women. Oops. Not so worldy wise after all eh?
Being pregnant over 40 used to be a taboo subject. It was ill-advised by the health profession and gossiped about by others. That’s certainly not the case now. In fact the medical profession recognises that it’s not an age thing, it’s more down to how healthy you are. If you make smart lifestyle choices, eat well, exercise regularly and keep your blood pressure under control there are no reasons you shouldn’t have a normal pregnancy.
And I needn’t have bothered googling ‘celeb mums over 40’ I have the most amazing examples of 40-plus mums right next to me on the school run every day. Goes without saying I’m very much looking forward to their help in around 13 weeks time!