What’s the Best Age to Get Pregnant?

I had two pregnancies after turning 40, contrary to recommendations that as women we must have children before we get to 35. For so many reasons, having a child by your mid 30s isn’t always how life plays out. In my case, I had put off having children earlier in life because I was just plain scared, as well as, I thought I was just too selfish in my 20s to be a parent. I wanted to work, travel and be free. I wanted kids but just later in life. Then in my 30s I was told that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant because of some fertility issues so I put the thought of having kids naturally to the side. By now the questions, the opinions and views of my childlessness were bountiful, but not one thought was given to the possibility that I could have an underlying medical issue. Then at 39, when my husband and I started thinking about having a family, I was told flat out by my fertility doctor that it wouldn’t happen for me naturally; the only way would be by IVF with donor eggs. By then, I’d become so consumed with not having gotten pregnant, because on some level you’ve been led to believe that it’s your worth as a woman to have babies, so I decided to give the subject a rest. A year later, I found out I was pregnant (spontaneously) with my son. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even able to enjoy my pregnancy, because I was so scared of miscarrying the entire time. I lived with a constant knot in my stomach and was so afraid to be happy because I didn’t want this gift to be taken away. This was even compounded by guilt and hurt for loved ones around me with ongoing fertility issues. I stayed a ball of nerves until my son was born. Soon after his birth came the “so when are you having the next one” queries. I don’t think anyone gives any thought to how insensitive that question might be. All the while I was battling post-partum blues, feelings of loneliness, isolation, fear and uncertainty about whether I’m “mothering” right. And none of the opinion givers ever checked on my welfare before placing an order for another kid. To my surprise, I did get pregnant again. This time around though, I felt like I was able to exhale and actually enjoy being pregnant. The fear and anxiety of losing the baby were replaced with nervous excitement and anticipation and I could just be.

My pregnancies did come with some issues but I can’t say with any certainty that these were due to my age. Most notable is that my babies were both breeched, because of the lack of room created my by large fibroids, and this led me to having two c-sections. Despite any concerns, they were both born healthy at full term.

I still feel lucky, like I was hit by lightning twice. I guess there’s no way to escape that feeling because I know not everyone with fertility issues or who are the same age as me have this kind of blessing.

Jamilah Haughton Walden
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Word of the Week (WOW)

Matrescence: The process of becoming a mother.

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