Like a growing number of Vermonters, my husband and I decided to wait to have a baby. I was nearing my mid-thirties when we decided to start trying – that magical period of time where one day, you wake up, blow out an extra candle, and you’re labeled “advanced maternal age.” Or, my favorite term if you do become pregnant at 35+, “geriatric pregnancy” (goodness, those geriatric years sure came fast!) So, why did we wait so long?
There were a lot of reasons to wait. Were we certain we wanted to become parents? Could we afford it? What life changes would we need to make? Would we still enjoy some independence? What would happen to my body? Would I survive birth? Would my career suffer? Would our child face health issues? Would the environment be suitable throughout his lifetime? Basic questions. Deep questions. They were endless. So endless in fact, that we just didn’t make a decision for a long time. It was a sort of “option paralysis.” With the seemingly endless outcomes, status quo seemed the best bet. But the candles on our birthday cakes kept increasing, and with that geriatric title hanging on the horizon, I felt this enormous pressure to impose a deadline.
Baby by 35 or bust.
I reverse engineered the ideal pregnancy timeline and gave myself a target delivery date. Okay, you might say I’m an over-planner. I just figured, if we were fortunate to choose this pregnancy, we could make it happen on our terms. But as we often discover, my thinking was naive. I had no clue if we were fertile, and with a congenital heart condition, I was automatically considered a high-risk pregnancy. I bought fertility tests and kept track of every phase of my cycle, every day, to minimize the uncertainty with getting pregnant. Imposing this deadline was stressful. It felt like we had to race against the clock, and as each pregnancy test came back negative, our stress levels rose.
As many encounter on this journey, getting pregnant wasn’t as simple as we thought. There were pain and tears along the way. But, before my 35th birthday, we had a solid positive. A huge life change was set into motion. Paralysis no more.
Flash forward two years and we are incredibly fortunate to have a healthy little boy. But now, as I inch closer to my later 30s, the question has re-emerged. Do we want baby number two? As if this question hasn’t occurred to us naturally, we are asked it on a regular basis. The truth is, we don’t know. All those questions we had before our son are still there. There are even some new ones. Option paralysis has once again taken hold.
And now that I’m officially “advanced maternal age” and my eggs are “geriatric,” what deadline would doctors give this high-risk woman with a heart condition? Baby by 40 or bust?
Here’s the thing. There is no turning back the clock. There’s no redoing our earlier life decisions. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to. We thoroughly enjoyed our twenties, and I’m thoroughly enjoying being a mom in my thirties. So, I have no regrets that I postponed my first pregnancy. Despite how I loathe the term “advanced maternal age,” it definitely nudged me to make the decision to become a mom. Will delaying pregnancy work the second time around? Only time will tell, but possibly not. As I add another candle to my birthday cake this year, I know my pregnancy risks increase (especially with my heart condition.) So, one way or another, that “advanced maternal” status will again force us to make a decision.
But this time around, no matter what we decide, or when we decide it, there’s one term for where I am in life, that I absolutely love. And that’s simply, “Mom.”
Brianne is a busy mom and full-time marketing professional. After spending a couple of years in NY, she and her husband decided to settle down in Vermont, where they both grew up and learned to love the great outdoors. She has a B.S. in Public Relations and has been writing in various forms for more than 20 years. She currently lives with her family in Chittenden County.
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