Don't Worry About Being 'Old' and Pregnant

Jenny Benjamin
6

pregnant shadowThey say that 40 is the new 30, and I buy that. Especially when you look at celebs like Jennifer Aniston or Halle Berry who look even better now than they did 10 years ago. Unfortunately though, no matter how kick-ass your body may be, that damn biological clock just goes on ticking -- regardless of how young you may look on the outside, your eggs are showing their age.

Recently, I've heard several stories of friends of friends in their early 40s going in for IVF treatments. Some have the money and means to keep at it; some only had enough for one round. Either way, almost all of them received a grim prognosis from their fertility doctors -- the odds of getting pregnant with their own eggs, even with IVF, are incredibly slim. Most studies indicate a 40-plus woman's chances of giving birth to a baby, after IVF, hover around less than 10 percent. Slim, but not impossible. For many women, that's just enough hope to keep trying!

I was fortunate enough to meet my husband when I was still in my 20s, and it still took us some time to get pregnant, even with my "young eggs." Once you get into your mid-30s though, getting pregnant and bringing a baby to term gets even harder. But just because you haven't met your perfect mate yet doesn't mean you have to give up on your dreams of parenthood. Definitely not! In fact, although the success rates have yet to really be tested, many single women in their 30s have started freezing their young, unfertilized eggs, as an insurance policy to cash in when they finally do meet Mr. Right. 

But if you find yourself over 40, now ready for kids, should you have to give up on your dreams of parenthood because life didn't quite go according to plan? Maybe you only just recently met your long-term partner -- love doesn't always operate on a timeline. Maybe you're still single and decided, to hell with it, you're going to do this parenting thing on your own. Or, maybe, you only just realized that you wanted children, and that primal need is now so strong, all you can think about are babies, babies, babies. Regardless, the desire for children (and the heartbreak when you can't seem to have them on your own) is no less strong just because you're past your baby-making prime.

Now, I've actually heard people say, "Well, it's her fault for waiting so long. Maybe she wasn't meant to have a child." Or even, "If you wanted a baby so badly, you should have had one when you were younger." Yeah, yeah, coulda, shoulda, woulda -- we all love those! Life goes through ups and downs, things change, and it's almost never too late to go after what you want, whether it's a career goal, a dream house, or your hopes for a family.

Biologically, yes, we're supposed to have children younger, but if you've ever watched Teen Mom, you know that youth and proper parenting don't exactly go hand-in-hand. Just because your body is ready for baby doesn't mean your head always is. Personally, I think everyone is better off having children when they're good and ready, even if that means they're young or of "advanced maternal age." Sure, you'll be much more tired than you were in your 20s, but at least you'll know, without a doubt, that this is what you really wanted.

Of course, when you're over 40, getting pregnant and carrying that baby to term is not easy, not easy at all. If you can afford the expensive treatments to try IVF using your own eggs, donor eggs, or a surrogate, then I think you should go for it -- biology be damned! If fertility treatments don't seem to be in the cards and, again, you can afford it, then maybe look into adoption, even if your plan is to raise that baby on your own. You have one life to live, and it's one you should live without regret, even if you find yourself making these choices later in life. I believe that any mother or father with love in their heart, love to give, and the time and energy to devote to a child shouldn't ever have to give up on their dreams of parenthood. There are many, many ways to have a family.

Did you get pregnant over the age of 40? Did you need the help of fertility treatments?


Image via zeevveez/Flickr

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