I’m Pregnant And I Refuse To Let The ‘Advanced Maternal Age’ Talk Freak Me Out

pregnancy stressI could sense the talk was coming. It came with a vengeance the last time, and I was 37. Now, I am 39 and approaching the second trimester of my second pregnancy. I knew the “advanced maternal age” talk was on the horizon. It finally went down yesterday, when I got my first ultrasound.

Since we weren’t exactly planning on having this baby, I had no idea how far along I was. I know that sounds pretty stupid, but I really didn’t think that conceiving a baby was something I could do with no effort. It took years of trying and every trick in the book to conceive our first. I guess there is something to the “All you have to do is stop trying!” mantra that everyone likes to shove down your throat when you are infertile.

Anyway, I needed to have an ultrasound so I could date the pregnancy. If the memory of my last period was serving me correctly – I would be about 12 weeks along. This is about the time that the first set of genetic tests can be done if you are “advanced maternal age,” so we decided to kill two birds with one stone. Needless to say, I was nervous.

I have really been trying not to live in fear through the first trimester of this pregnancy. I think I have been doing a pretty good job. But there was definitely some sweaty palms and hand-wringing before I went into that ultrasound room. When you have suffered a pregnancy loss, there is always a flicker in the back of your mind that it could happen again.

I entered the ultrasound room, and waited patiently for the tech. When she finally arrived, I smiled and said “Hi.” She responded with, “How old are you?”

“Thirty-nine,” I said.

“Forty?” She replied.

“No, thirty-nine.” I insisted.

“Almost forty,” she decided.

“Fine. Almost forty,” I conceded.

(Photo: Gladskikh Tatiana / Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Kwhite

      Sounds like you really need a new doctors office. No way they should be discussing this with you, like this, so casually! Thats what the doctor is for. If you say no, then that should be it, with no other comments made.

    • katydid0605

      I know just what you mean, with my last (and probably the other two, i dont remember) i refused the 16 week blood work for genetic disorders, as well as the NT scan. the nurses acted like i was crazy, and very bredugingly gave me the form to sign. They got me so worked up i asked my OB if she felt i was doing something wrong by not having these test. she replied “would you terminate if there was a probabiltiy of abnormality?” i said “no, absolutely not” and she said, well then they arent necessary.

    • Lauren

      Oh MAN! That is awful. Ultrasound techs are so hit or miss. You did a pretty awesome job dealing with her, though. I’m glad all looks good with the babe! Just scheduled my NT appt for 12/24. Way too far away.

    • Fabel

      I hear so many terrible stories like this–certain doctors/medical professionals really need more bedside manner training or something. Congrats on keeping your cool!

    • IASoupMama

      My “advanced maternal age” pregnancy was with twins. You can imagine all of the extra attention I got, zoinks! Everything was fine — both girls were delivered vaginally at 37 weeks and were absolutely perfect. I was 38 and somehow managed to avoid going from the OB ward to a nursing home.

    • LiteBrite

      I had my son when I was 38 (okay, 38 1/2), and I’ve always been grateful that my OB/GYN took a very easy going approach. She too offered the genetic tests as an option but also added that since I and DH were in great health, no major genetic disorders in the family, etc she wouldn’t be broken up if we opted out. In fact, I was the one who brought up the risks of having a baby after 35. She agreed there were risks and higher instances of certain disorders but also said in my case she wasn’t worried. This went a long way towards making me feel confident and easy with my pregnancy, and I can’t thank her enough for that.

      I’m glad to hear you and baby are doing awesome; however, I’m sorry you had to deal with that on what should have been an exciting day.

    • Ellie

      OMG. Here, I’m going to send you a link to my Perinatology office, and a plane ticket to get there. Because you’re in the wrong place. Ugh. I was 37 with my first and 40 with my second, so yeah, got all those talks. But they spoke to us like we were intelligent beings. And were very professional and fabulous about the whole process.
      FWIW, we *did* get the testing done beforehand. But not because we would terminate, because we absolutely would not have done that. We wanted to know – if possible – if anything was wrong so that we could be as prepared as we could be. So we could research things and find resources. So that Birth Day could be just Birth Day, not birth and then OMG what’s wrong? We wanted to be ready to support that child no matter what. Thankfully, everything came out fine and we had no need to do any of that preparation.

    • Loowho

      Just wait until you’re about 34 weeks along and they want to ultrasound you every week because you “may run out of fluid”. Apparently, your body forgets how to have a baby once it turns 35.

    • Katheirne

      One of the things they DON’T like to talk about is the actual statistics involved in “advanced maternal age.” They like to use phrases like “your risk doubles”. But at lot of those risks “double” from 0.1% to 0.2%, for example. Don’t let them scare you! There’s risk with every pregnancy; if everyone waited for a risk-free pregnancy the human race would die out :-)

    • Laura

      Yikes! My jaw hit the floor reading this post. I am right there with you…37 and absolutely SHOCKED to be (unexpectedly) pregnant with my second, after being told 10 years ago that I would be lucky to have one, even with intensive medical intervention. I’m feeling really lucky that my OB and her staff completely rock. They said, “Do you want the tests?” I responded, “Nope. No deal-breakers here.” Their reaction? “That’s cool.” And that was it. It’s bad enough being reminded that you’re ‘advanced maternal age’ at every turn, who needs the kind of crap your office is throwing at you?

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      I think it’s awesome you stood up to them and didn’t let them bully you into it. It inspired me to do the same with my next one, which very well could be after age 35 as I’m almost 33 now.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Oh man, talk about total lack of bedside manner, sheesh! Poor you :( I wanna go yell at your office for you!

    • TheSquirrel

      Yikes! If only there was someone to complain to about the lousy service. It seems some people in the medical field think that just because we *have* to deal with them that we should be grateful they simply wash their hands before they see us and don’t fart in our presence.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      Congrats on your pregnancy! I hope everything goes perfectly, you deserve it.

      Many people put off getting pregnant until they’ve reached “Advanced Maternal Age,” Hell, my mom had me when she was 41.

      Just Don’t stress about it, most end with healthy happy babies.

    • LEB

      Yikes, time for a new OB! They should have just handed you a pamphlet and said, “There are some screening tests that we offer up to X-number of weeks, and while I encourage you to read this so you know what is available, they are 100% optional. If you have any questions or would like to schedule, just call us anytime.” And left it at that. I do think it is a practitioner’s responsibility to ensure that their patients HAVE information that can help them, but there are certainly more tactful ways of presenting it than a guilt trip by a lab tech who wouldn’t even take them herself!

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    • Youngatheart

      Ok, so I know this post is a year old, but I just found it and have to comment. I am 41 and expecting my second child. I had my first 3 weeks before my 40th birthday. He is perfect in every way! :-) We didn’t do any of the screening tests with him, and weren’t planning on doing any this time. However, at the standard mid-pregnancy anatomy scan last week, the ultrasound tech was pushing heavily for maternit21 testing. This is after each previous appointment felt like a sales pitch for the NT, which we just kept refusing. They even made us an appointment for the NT scan and told us we could cancel if we didn’t change our minds! We cancelled the appointment. Anyway, at the anatomy scan last week, they told us that one of the baby’s kidneys is slightly enlarged. They said its probably nothing to worry about but they want to get a second opinion from the ultrasound at the hospital in the antenatal testing unit. I guess their ultrasound machines and techs are more sensitive. So, I got a call from the hospital this morning telling me that they scheduled my anatomy scan and genetics counseling with the maternit21 blood test. I was confused, because I thought I was just getting a second opinion about the kidney issue. When I called the doctors office to clarify, I was told that the hospital requires the genetic testing because I am “advanced maternal age.” Really?!?!?! A hospital can require a woman to undergo tests that she doesn’t want??? I doubt it. I think I’m being manipulated into testing so the docs can be prepared in case the baby is born with a problem and I refused the testing. I’m so angry right now, and so sick of being reminded that I’m supposed to be too old to be having children!

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