I Said I Refused To Be Freaked Out By My ‘Advanced Maternal Age.’ I Lied

shutterstock_56186314I said I wasn’t going to let the “advanced maternal age” boogey monster get to me. Well, I lied. I’m only human.

When you’re pregnant, the only news you want to hear is “everything looks great!” Anything less than that becomes an immediate source of endless hours of Googling, sleepless nights and what if’s. Unless you’re the most Zen person on the planet, that is. I’m not that person. I have a new found respect for those women who skip the genetic screening all-together. My experience with it this pregnancy put me on a roller coaster ride that I am just barely getting off of now. I am five months pregnant. That is a long time to wonder if everything is okay.

As I mentioned in a previous article, my experience with my first trimester screen was pretty odd. I’m 39, so I was approached as if I was some sort of dinosaur with dried up eggs attempting to have a child. After I was informed of the hundreds of genetic defects that a child that emerged from my old womb could have, I was offered a series of genetic tests to go along with the routine first trimester NT scan. I had such great results with my last pregnancy, I decided to decline. My last pregnancy was only two years ago so I figured, how much worse off could I be now?

The NT scan results give you the statistical probability that you will have a child with certain types of genetic disorders. I took the test in my last pregnancy and my probabilities were those of a 24-year-old woman – my results came back with a 1 in 1,300 chance. Two years later, my results were 1 in 81. All of a sudden my reproductive system really is 40 years old. Great.

A receptionist from my birthing center called me after she received those results to inform me that they had found some “soft markers” for genetic defects, and I should consider getting an amniocentesis. There was also a new blood test available that has almost the same detection rate as an amnio, without the invasive procedure of actually putting a needle into your uterus. I opted for that. She said she would schedule it. She never called me back.

So I called her back. She was visibly annoyed.

Her: Oh. Did I call you?

Me: No, that’s why I’m calling you.

Her: Oh, I figured you must be returning my call, because why else would you call?

Me: I’m calling because you told me some disturbing news, said you would book an appointment for me, and then never called me back.

Her: Well, I haven’t made the appointment yet – so I’ll call you when I do.

Me: Click.

I called the perinatal testing unit and made the appointment myself, which I’m glad I did

because the woman actually never called me back.

Be Sociable, Share!
You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
Be Sociable, Share!
  • Fabel

    I can’t believe how rude everyone is— wtf? And how is 99% any different than “almost 100%”?

  • Amanda

    I’m so glad you can look at them realize they are crazy people. If it had been my first pregnancy, I know I would have totally get sucked into everything. I think you did the best with the information you have, and I admire your willingness to say, “WTF?”

  • Tinyfaeri

    Dude, that birth center sucks. Even if you weren’t moving, I’d suggest running away from them as fast as you can.

    • TheSquirrel

      Agreed! These people sound like shady morons.

  • Anne

    I am VERY GLAD you’re moving away from them and getting a whole new set of medical staff. These people sound like assclowns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/coffeeestrumpet Mary-Lynn Jeppi Ragot

    Take care and try to relax. I had alarming results which turned out to be nothing. I think that a lot of those initial tests and claims are just the medical community covering their proverbial asses.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

    Thanks, ladies. I am finally allowing myself to enjoy the pregnancy. I’m so stupid. And yes, these people are nuts. Advising me to board a train from Orlando to Penn Station when I’m getting ready to deliver? Crazytown.

    • Andrea

      That bitch has MASSIVE issues. I strongly suggest you find a different practice (you are right?) and report her to her supervisors and whatever other governing board watches over her crazy and insensitive ass.

    • jsterling93

      Also does she think FLorida is some back water? VBACs are not so advanced you can’t get them except a few select places. I’m in Arkansas and my friend just had one.

  • American expat in Europe

    I had my daughter at 40 and even though I am probably done, my amazingly talented and head of OB at the hospital here keeps asking when I’ll have another. I’m 42 now. He also did not advocate any extreme tests, those forced flu shots everyone was getting and even told me toward the end of my pregnancy a glass of red wine was a good thing. Did I mention I am in Europe? You guys are in the wrong country. I’m American and love my country, but you couldn’t pay me to give birth there, let alone go through an entire pregnancy with that kind of idiocracy. I’m sorry you went through that. As I said, idiots. Happy pregnancy, baby and mama! <3

    • LiteBrite

      To be fair, not all OBs and birthing centers over here are as cray cray as Maria’s seems to be. I had my son at 38, and my OB couldn’t have better. She too did not recommend extensive genetic testing, was fine with my diet, gave me the green light on coloring my hair, and even agreed that a little alcohol was okay (although I still pretty much abstained).

      Maria, run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit and go far far away from this place. It sounds like they’re playing on your fears just to rack up more profit for them, to be totally honest.

    • American expat in Europe

      Fair enough, but the statistics show it is more relaxed, less invasive, natural birth rates higher (nowhere near as many c-sections unless necessary) and the infant mortality rate is lower here — at least where I am in Europe. We also have one of the best maternity & paternity systems in place. Don’t get me wrong, I do still love my country of America, but there is a lot of work to do there.

    • American expat in Europe

      I should add that I’m really happy you had such great care @Litebrite. My sister in the US also had great care, as many friends family. I realize it’s a case by case basis, but overall I just feel the US needs some tweaking in that dept. I also agree with your advice to Maria, run, don’t walk.

    • http://twitter.com/ashleyaustrew Ashley Austrew

      I would love to live in Europe for the maternity/paternity leave alone. I’m at home, so it’s not that big of a deal for me, but for my husband, it was really hard to get any time off at all when our daughter was born.

      I, too, had great care here in the States, but I know it definitely doesn’t seem to be the norm.

    • American expat in Europe

      @twitter-42171911:disqus , I agree it’s not the norm. It makes me really mad too. I can’t compare the maternity/paternity care personally as I have only ever been pregnant and gave birth here in Europe, but I have sisters and lots of friends that in the US that have. And it goes without saying, you just can’t compare 1-3 years of paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave and the money you get per child til they are 25.
      I’m sorry it was so hard for your husband to get time off. That’s a huge bummer. My husband and I (he’s from here) talk about moving to America sometimes (mostly for my family), but when I tell him about 20 days sick leave, vacation time and other non-benefits, he can’t believe it. I mean, they get 5 weeks vacation here and sick leave is unlimited so long as you get a doctors note — which is free to get/do and easy as well. I really love America and miss it for many reasons, but I would be lying if I said I couldn’t wait to go back. Lack of support and benefits will likely keep me here.

  • latoya

    Wow! I thought one of the whole points in going via the birth center/midwifery way was to have a more relaxed and stress-free pregnancy. I hope you find a great practice in Florida!

  • Anne

    A good friend of mine recently moved from Orlando and had a great experience with a midwife there. I just emailed her to ask for the woman’s name. She handles births at home as well as at her birthing center.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom


    • Anne

      Kelli Johnson Amothersnaturemidwifery.com only does home births, and my friend has used her twice. She also recommends Diane Albright who works at a birthing center, Albright Beginnings is her center.

    • krister

      Yes, yes, yes! Kelli Johnson helped me have a successful (10lb!) Vbac 18 months ago. She is fantastic!

  • http://twitter.com/bossmomonline Portia Mount

    Maria, I had my son at age 40. People want to treat women who are having children later in life as dried up crones. I was fortunate to have a very cool OB who told me that I wasn’t his oldest patient by a mile and that I shouldn’t stress out. I skipped all of the other tests (though I don’t think the Harmony test was around three years ago for me) and went straight for the amnio. Glad I did because it allowed me to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy. The medical professionals around you seem like complete douche brains. For God’s sake, back in the “olden days” plenty of women were having children in their late thirties and forties except they were having like their ninth kid and not their first or second. I know it’s hard but try and relax and just nurture that baby growing inside of you. All signs point to your having a very healthy baby. Enjoy and take care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mindy.gilmore.5 Mindy Gilmore

    When I got pregnant with my daughter at 35 one of the practitioners I saw was appalled at the fact that I didn’t want testing done. 35?? Advanced maternal age?? Give me a break. Even today less than 1 month away from 40 I still wouldn’t have the testing done. I am naturally a very laid back person and strongly believe what will be will be. No sense in stressing myself out for 40 weeks. Be calm and let your body take care of growing the child inside of you the way mother nature intended. Ultra sound are great and I because they are non-invasive they are the best way to follow the growth and development of the tiny package you are carrying.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    You’ve done what’s healthy and comfortable for you, and that’s what matters. There are never any guarantees no matter how many tests you do. Sometimes you just have to live your life.

  • Guest

    Sorry, had a good response but had to edit because I inadvertantly posted with my full name.

  • Lalizarde

    I love you.
    No, seriously, this is the best pregnancy article I’ve read yet.
    I was pushed into genetic testing before I really had a chance to think about it. Quite frankly, I didn’t care if I had a kid with Down’s – I mean of course I’m glad my son doesn’t have it, but I don’t think it would have require any “decision” on my part.
    And I liked this bit:
    I’m having a hard time even accepting that I am pregnant. I don’t know if this is a coping mechanism brought about by all of my past problems with pregnancies, or if the stress of these tests is not allowing me to relax and bond with this child growing inside me. Whatever the case – it sucks.
    That was exactly how I felt about my pregnancy. I hadn’t had any past pregnancies, but I was 41 when I got pregnant, and had heard so many horror studies and gloomy statistics, I had a hard time believing I was actually going to get to have a child. I totally hated and resented my pregnancy because I couldn’t let myself get emotionally invested in it in case something happened and it was all taken away from me. It wasn’t and he’s here and he’s wonderful, but I still wonder if he’s going to turn out to have autism because I was so old or something else like that.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom


  • Yves

    You have the WORST OB/midwife practice/where you go. Seriously, who are these people that are so rude? I have NEVER had such an experience. PS. I am a labor/mother & baby nurse and can’t imagine treating a patient like that!

  • SusannahJoy

    Yeah, that place sounds crazy. I’m pregnant and 29, and still had to tell the various nurses/doctors (I see a different one every time I go to the hospital for a check up) that I didn’t want genetic testing done at least 5 or 6 times. One of them even started telling me the procedure for an amnio. I had to stop her. I mean, seriously? Why on earth would I get an amnio done? I just viewed those tests as extra things to stress about. At least they were all polite about it when I said no thank you, and as annoying as they can be, I am sure that I’m getting good care, which is good, because I don’t have another option.

  • Kate

    Wow…I thought I had a bad experience but you were treated horribly! Those tests are BEYOND stressful and you’re right…insurance companies are making a pretty penny from them. I also received my medical history after the amnio came back ‘normal’ because I had to fly. I was flipping through the notes and of course it says “patient knows that just because no anomaly is detected doesn’t mean there can’t be one”. Way to put that little nugget in my brain for the rest of my pregnancy! I know they write that to cover their asses but seriously.

  • Jennifer

    I am sorry you have had such poor experiences with your Drs. As a pregnant 35 year old I see an OB and a maternal fetal medicine specialist, both of which are very knowledgable. I have had the blood tests done and monthly U/S to rule out any defects. I have been fortunate. And BTW, I am in SW Florida. Maybe you should move down here sooner than later. ;) Good luck!

  • Frosty

    I’m currently at 36 weeks and turned 35 during this pregnancy. I didn’t have any testing done, because like you, the person that was supposed to call me so we could schedule something never bothered. Combine that with switching jobs, doctors and health centers and by the time it was brought up again it was too late. Now I just have to trust that things will turn out fine, and regardless of what the results would have been we will have a beautiful baby boy with or without testing.

  • Jen

    Not being a 20-year-old pregnant woman shouldn’t freak you out – the incompetents you had to deal with, now they are a great cause of freaking out and concern!

  • Elizabeth

    I had my second child at 45. I had an incredible, wonderful experience in Memphis, TN. Well, one male doc made a rude remark about not having any OB patients who needed “cheater glasses” for reading( I reported the comment to my main female doc,she took take care of it.) I had one test early on noninvasive in the first trimester that gave me 1 in 1,000 chances of genetic issues. After that, no more test! MY ob did get my and the baby “under surveillance ” with many Scans starting the second trimester. Delivered a healthy baby boy. He is no3 years old & he has an awesome big brother who is 9. The gap was b/c of some bad luck with old eggs.

    I got every rude question under the sun, do you know how old you will be when the baby is in high school. How will you have the energy? Are you CRAZY?

    The most supportive people were my husband, my real friends & the entire staff at my ob sans one rude doctor. Never settle for anything but the best!

  • Carolina

    I agree with the suggestion “run”.
    I will also add – enjoy your pregnancy and stay away from people that ooze negativity and/or that stress you.
    I had my first child a month after I turn 50.
    To say I was shocked to find out I was pregnant is a major understatement and in the beginning I was so worried all the time (when I google it the outcome didn’t look rosy. My age was not even on the charts!), I couldn’t even start to appreciate the beauty of this amazing gift. That said, I was lucky to find an OB, nurses & techs and a lovely doula that helped me through the experience and tried to make it as stress free as possible. It really makes the difference. BTW, my son is now 14 months and perfectly healthy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cseckinger1 Cindy Seckinger

    I was your age w/my last biological child & I refused all the tests, he was perfect (now he’s 17 so I’m not so sure) I adopted a child when I was 50, she’s 6 now & my pride & joy. I certainly don’t think I’m too old. Have fun w/this baby!

  • Shelly G

    The way your situation was handled is appalling. And this is coming from someone who works in perinatology. I have never seen a patient treated that way, it’s a shame that you had to.

  • sistalula

    I went through this at 35 with my daughter. I will never forget the midwife calling and saying, you have a 1 in 48 chance of having a child with Down’s Syndrome. Then we had a terrible visit with a genetic counselor who was trying to sell us every test in the book. I had a feeling when we had our sonogram that our daughter would be ok, but there was always a nagging feeling from that call from the midwife until I had my daughter. I did not do an amnino. I also found out during my reading that of the 50 women who test positive with the screen I had done, only 1 will have a child with a genetic disorder. We would have handled it and loved her all the same, but if on the off chance I get pregnant again, I will not have any testing done.

  • Michelle

    With the support of my husband, I had the amnio done at ages 38 and 40. The peace of mind was totally worth it to me. But here’s what happened in my case: my doctors (different docs working for the same clinic each time) weren’t on the same page with me. I thought they’d ordered the amnio, but I showed up and they wanted to perform the less-invasive test. Why, when I really needed to know? Lack of communication, I suppose. I rescheduled for the amnio both times without the lower-level testing.

    Good luck with your VBAC. My sis-in-law went through it last month and delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl!

  • http://twitter.com/ashleyaustrew Ashley Austrew

    Good for you for making that decision and taking your health into your own hands. I’m sorry you had to jump through so many hoops. The idea of an amnio really freaks me out, so I’m with you: I wouldn’t have one unless it seemed absolutely necessary. Best wishes on a less stressful rest of your pregnancy and a happy, healthy baby!

  • http://twitter.com/bethany_ramos Bethany Ramos

    I am pregnant with my second baby, and I am constantly disgusted and irritated by how many tests I have been encouraged to get – even with a natural birth at a birthing center and at home! Because our baby had a two vessel cord, we were told about all of these risks that did nothing but cause unnecessary worry. How are you supposed to get that out of your head for 10 months??? He was born completely healthy, and we still had to have another ultrasound for him to make sure that his kidneys were functioning well. They were. I know that it’s better safe than sorry, but why can’t doctors be more realistic with the statistics that they throw at you that seem more scary than helpful? I feel for you.

  • jessica

    I’m kind of torn on this subject. My baby was born with an extremely
    rare genetic disorder (um 12 people in the world with it). An amnio most
    likely would not have picked it up purely because it’s not tested for.

    said it would have ruled out all the other genetic disorders that they
    were testing him for and we may not have spent 2 months waiting on test

    That said we didn’t know there was anything wrong until
    week 32 of the pregnancy when he developed hydrocephalus so there is no
    real point in wondering what it would have changed. I had no testing
    done with my other two kids and they are all fine.

    When they
    discovered hydrocephalus (they were really concerned due to it showing
    up so late in the pregnancy, their biggest worry was infection) they
    offered an amnio to find out what was up. At the time we declined it
    purely because it wouldn’t change anything. I mean literally there was
    nothing we could do at 32 weeks there were no decisions to make. No idea
    what decision we would have made but it doesn’t matter because we had
    no options, no choices.

    So I guess you need to decide what
    finding out answers means to you. Does it mean you’d make a tough
    decision? Does it mean you would just prepare yourself for the future?
    Does it mean you will have answers now instead of waiting for a month
    after the baby is born?

    I doubt this has helped at all but I just thought I’d share my little story in case it helped. :)

  • Nica

    DIdn’t have a chance to read any but a few responses and I agree – RUN RUN RUN from that practice and find yourself some competent and compassionate care.

    FWIW, I had my 2nd child back in June at the age of 39. I’m one of those “brave” women who refused all prenatal testing except for the 20 week anatomy u/s. It was the right decision for me and my family. I personally know too many people in your situation – that had inconclusive results and the push was for more and more invasive testing. In my case, termination was not an option, so I didn’t see the point. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen. At my 20 week us, the perinatologist said “Everything looks fine on the scan. Are you interested in an amniocentsis?” I said “no” and that was the end of the conversation.

    I’m grateful to have given birth to a second perfectly healthy baby boy. My age was a non issue. My OB doesn’t buy into the whole “advanced maternal age” thing. To her, it was more about your overall health and reproductive history than a number.

    In fact, she asked at my last annual exam with her past month when I was going to have another! (Don’t think that’s gonna happen! LOL!)

    Maria – I wish you the best. I hope you find a good fit in a care provider, a successful VBAC and a perfect baby.

  • Haber

    I used to understand not getting the testing done if you would never terminate the pregnancy. That is, until our 5 months pregnant friends tearfully announced their baby would have Down’s Syndrome. The amount of research and pre planning they were able to do in the final 4 months of pregnancy — I can’t even imagine the info dump and crisis decision making if it had been a surprise. Before he was born they already had surgery scheduled, had arranged a place to live 5 minutes from the hospital since he would be there for a couple months, she had a breast pump lined up and their pets taken care of. And maybe most importantly, the crying happened at 5 months so when he was born, their family and friends could gather around to congratulate them and celebrate their beautiful baby boy.

  • Pingback: I Know Breast Is Best But I Don't Want To Breastfeed()

  • Pingback: Benefits To Being The Old Mom - It's Actually Kind Of Great()

  • Pingback: Older Moms May Live Longer So Take Your Age-Shaming And Shove It()

  • Pingback: 51 Year Old Woman Pregnant With Second Child()

  • Pingback: Oversold And Faulty Prenatal Tests Are Misleading Women()