On Waiting Till Your 30s to Try for a Baby

My very first Mother’s Day kicked off in the most amazing way — with an article featuring me and Nathan in The Connecticut Post. Just imagine walking into your local CVS and seeing your son’s face on the front page of multiple newspapers (in a newsstand shared by USA Today and The New York Times)!

My son Nathan rocks out.

The article’s purpose — to shed light on the trend of women conceiving their first baby in their 30s — did so many great things. It did a near perfect job of capturing the essence of my rockin’ family life. I especially loved this part:

 “It still comes as a shock to Marisa when she examines her life from the outside. After living in the New York City bubble for so many years, where she felt like she was “living in an ageless place,” she still has trouble realizing she is 37 already and that life is more baby gates and feeding time than Brooklyn bars and concerts.”

The article’s light and uplifting tone made it the perfect Mother’s Day piece.

But, in being the perfect light and fun piece, it didn’t really shed light on the challenges and heartaches many women who wait until their 30s experience. Nor did it really touch on my experiences of almost not being a mom. That’s okay, though. I will touch on both in this blog!

As many of my close friends know, I was diagnosed with “Diminished Ovarian Reserve” after I started trying to get pregnant. My then-OB/GYN referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist who, in turn, told me I had about a 3 percent chance of conceiving because I was running out of eggs. This was shocking to hear — I was only 35, after all! We got a second opinion from another RE, who put me on DHEA and Synthroid to prime my body for IVF. Then, by some miracle and lots of love, Nathan was conceived just two weeks before my IVF estrogen priming was scheduled to begin.

I’m far from alone. A recent iVillage piece touches on difficulties many other women in their mid-30s are having:

“Some 15 percent of couples in which the woman is under 35 will have trouble conceiving, but one-third of those 35-39 and half of those 40 and older will, according to Peter McGovern, M.D., medical director of University Reproductive Associates in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

The rate and risk of miscarriages also increase with age. While women overall have a 10 to 25 percent chance of miscarrying, those numbers rise the older you get, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Women under 35 have a 15 percent chance of miscarrying, and the risk goes up to between 20-35 percent for women ages 35 to 45. Half of pregnancies among women 45 and older will end in miscarriage, the group says.”

Unfortunately, most journalism about women waiting till they are older to have a baby doesn’t touch upon these facts. All we hear about is “Halle Berry is pregnant at 46,” giving husbands and boyfriends the impression that their wives have plenty of time to get knocked up. I wish more media outlets would deliver the message that this is not always the case.

Being an infertility patient definitely puts a strain on relationships. It often makes women deeply insecure, and deeply depressed. And while I got lucky, somewhere there is a 35-year-old who won’t. She’ll wish she started trying to conceive much earlier. She’ll wish she didn’t listen to her ignorant but well-intentioned friends who said stuff like “oh, you have plenty of time. My friend Lizzie had a baby at 40!”

From this point on, I’d like to make it my mission to educate those under-informed couples who are choosing to wait, and choosing to believe that just because they’re 33 or whatever, they have “plenty of time.” I do hope they have plenty of time. Odds are, if they’re 30-39, that they do. But if they don’t, perhaps because of the woman’s rapidly diminishing ovarian reserve, they will find themselves regretting they didn’t look more closely at the cold, hard — but not light and fun — statistics.

On a separate note, enough is enough with the “can you afford to have a baby?” brand of journalism. You really can’t afford to wait to have a baby if you consider the cost of multiple rounds of IVF, counseling for the depression that ensues after you can’t conceive, and/or donor eggs (daycare, at $25,000-30,000 per year, is usually cheaper!). Adoption is also about 30K, which is something most people don’t know until they actually start looking into it. Often because they waited too long to start trying because USA Today’s “Can You afford to Have a Baby” quiz said they were about $10,000 short.

While the economy stays lackluster, these prices will only rise.

Sorry if this isn’t positive journalism. But it is the truth. And in that, it’s a service to the public. Exactly the way journalism was intended to be.

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