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Why become a mother after 35? The answer to that question is easy for the absolute, utter joy that comes with having a wanted baby; for the chance to fully mother and love unconditionally; for the enormous satisfaction in caring for one's own child and in being well used; for the fulfillment of creating a family. Beyond the tenderness and warmth, there is the pleasure in watching a young being grow, and the gratifying sense of continuity in nurturing the next generation.
For more than a few us now in our middle thirties and early forties, becoming a mother is the only piece of the pie really missing in lives that are already full and rich. Some middle-years women planned it that way, from the start not envisioning them selves as mothers until their thirties. Others wish they'd been able have a baby earlier and have carried around an urgent, unrealized longing for many years. For still others, the strong desire for a baby is a recent, sometimes even sudden development, dawning on them from out of the blue, say, for instance, on the morning of their 39th birthday.
Regardless of where you find yourself on this continuum, mid-life is a good time to have a baby. In fact, for a good number of s in our mid-thirties and beyond, now is the right time, even the best time to become a mother.
Many of us find our lives ill full bloom around 35. It's an age at which many women are settled in a stable relationship, happy with their work, and perhaps financially comfortable and more relaxed with who they are than ever before. Beyond that, our chances for getting pregnant and carrying to term are generally good in our middle thirties.
It is wise to consider that our fertile yearsare not open-ended. In fact, the first appreciable reproductive changes begin around age 35, give or take a few years. Yet during the mid-thirties, while you may not have the luxury of all the time in the world to get pregnant, time is still on your side. In the chapters to come we will discuss how your blessing of time might affect your experience with pregnancy.
If you are in your forties, especially your early forties, this book offers you hope and support. What is the reality of getting pregnant at 40 and older? There reality is that although 40 plus is not a biologically optimal time to approach childbearing, for most women in their early forties, it is possible. In fact, there are more births to 40 plus women now than there have been for over 20 years'
These myths include, for example, the beliefs that pregnancy is physically perilous for "older" women, that our bodies are not up to the task of giving birth safety, and that our chances of having an abnormal baby are great, beginning at 35. All these notions are false.
Yet even the terms often used to describe middle-years pregnancy are judgment-laden and convey nothing of the positive experience typical for older expectant mothers. Here is a sampling: 'late-timed birth," "delayed childbearing," "advanced maternal age," and the particularly insulting and arcane "elderly primigravida." Although it is true that most babies are born to mothers in their twenties, 43;,110 American women between the ages of 35 and 44 had babies in 1994an average of nearly 1,200 midlife babies born every day.'
You may be more than taken aback to be considered a "midlife" woman. Seeing the word midlife applied to yourself for the first time is a little like being addressed as "ma'am" by polite children and sales clerks. You might glance around for the "mature" woman they seem to be speaking to; you're mildly shocked when you realize they're actually addressing you. Who me? I'm no "ma'am.'' I'm too young to be called "ma'am"! But the life expectancy for women is 79 years,' making 395 the halfway point; meaning that around 35, we open up the door to the span of time comprising our midlife years.
If you are in your mid-thirties or early forties and are thinking about having a baby, you are not alone. If you are hoping to become pregnant, or are now pregnant, you may be having a child later in life than other women, but no one can say it's too late for you to become a mother. You may have taken your time to have a baby until it was the right time for you. The journey you're on is both common and safe; yours is, simply, a midlife pregnancy.
My criteria for choosing the material included in this book were twofold. First, that it be truly useful. I've tried to target those questions and concerns that are particularly relevant to pregnancy, at midlife, as well as to cover those that are common for women of any age in the process of having a baby. Part One discusses the midlife pregnancy issues, and Part Two, the universal ones.
My second standard was that the information be up-to-date and sound. Because medicine is not only a science but also a subjective art, chances are you'll probably find differences of opinion regarding at least some of the material in these pages in any given group of physicians. Thus my job, as I saw it, was to sift through and cull out the ''bottom line" from numerous and varied sources, including medical journals, consultations with medical professionals, conversations with women about their pregnancies, and my own experience.
When I was trying to conceive and when I was pregnant, I could not find the pregnancy book written for me, a midlife pregnant woman. There was no up-to-date, singular source that spoke to the distinct experiences and issues of women in their middle years with sufficient detail to be greatly trustworthy or useful. I have written this book to fill that gap, and I hope you will find it to be trustworthy, useful, and reassuring throughout your pregnancy.
This book is written for a woman 35 and over who is pregnant now, is hoping to become pregnant, or has just begun to think about becoming pregnant. It is also a resource for women younger than 35, wondering how possible and safe pregnancy can be in their middle years. This is a book for women of any age wanting to know about midlife pregnancy.
Copyright ) 1998 by Ellen Rose Lavin, Ph. D.