Friday, June 17, 2011

Advanced Maternal Age - WTF?!

I think we all can agree that I'm somewhat vain about my age.  How vain?  I understand that about a year ago several of my friends each thought I was a different age because it's the one thing that I am consistently dishonest about.  So this blog post is a big deal to me because I'm copping to my real age rather than a sorta true-ish range because my age is central to the theme of this post.

I'm 35-years old and I will be 36-years old when this baby is born.

Oh sh*t, did you feel that?  I think Earth just spun off it's axis.  Even nature is freaked out that I put my age in print for all 19 blog Followers to discover.  Speaking of which. . .I lost one Follower recently so would you consider "following" me to make up for it??

Yeah, so I'm 35-years old and pregnant.  What does that mean?  Beyond the obvious answer (which is decreasing fertility, making it more difficult to get knocked up than when you're in your early- to mid-20s), it means that I get a special label in the medical community. 

What special label has been bestowed upon me?  Is it Best Wife & Mother of All Time?  No, though my husband and son both can feel free to think that on their own.  Am I called Super Cervix in honor of my body part that is apparently the least likely to dilate when definitely necessary?  No and I can tell you that it is the worst super power ever!  What label is found right there in my medical chart?  What label could cause me to to bristle whenever I see it?

Advanced Maternal Age. 

Advanced Maternal Age?  Seriously?  ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE?!  Advanced!  I'm 35, not fifty-freaking-five!

Perhaps I'm just sensitive, but advanced maternal age sounds like I'm a grey-haired old hag on Social Security who's going to go straight from my wheelchair to the delivery room.  It makes it sound like people aren't sure who's diapers should be checked first, the baby's or mine.  It sounds like I'm so ridiculously old to have a baby that it requires a freaking label.  Oh, wait. . .

Okay, okay, so I do have grey hair, but come on.  Surely I can't be the only one who thinks this label is a bunch of crap!  Yes, I'm serious and I'll refrain from calling you Shirley. . .why, yes, I did just shoe-horn an Airplane! reference in there.

Is there an upside to being labeled with advanced maternal age?  Uh, that depends on your definition of "upside."  I don't generally consider extra doctor visits, additional labs & ultrasounds, and an increased risk of birth defects to be upsides so I'm just not seeing the benefits to this label at this time.  Of course, I'm not saying that I don't see the benefits of the pregnancy because obviously there's a huge benefit at the end of the line.  It's just the label that aggravates me.

Thanks to my advanced maternal age, I had seven or eight vials of blood drawn today.  It's not so bad (as I told my little boy who was in tow) and it's kinda nice that there's a good, better, & best of diagnostics so it's not just a choice between amniocentesis and getting a surprise at the end of the 40-weeks.  I will have another set of blood work done in the second trimester and I'm scheduled for a nuchal translucency ultrasound (also called an NT scan) next Friday.  This screening doesn't definitively say anything, it just indicates if there is a tendency toward certain abnormalities.  The results will be helpful in deciding if I want to have any further diagnostics performed.

I didn't go with chorionic villus sampling (CVS) because it's an invasive test (like amnio) and it's not like I'm going to abort this baby anyway so I didn't see the point in doing an in-depth and invasive test in the first trimester.  I think that choosing amniocentesis right off the bat is overkill at age 35, considering the risk of miscarriage associated with amnio is about the same as the risk of having a child with genetic defect at this age.  I do see a value in being prepared and doing research if it's revealed that there is a possibility that my baby has certain defects so I'm not saying that I wouldn't choose to have further testing performed if the screening I'm having performed indicates that my baby may have certain defects.  I'm just saying that there's no big rush since it's not like I'm going to go abort my baby if a defect is revealed.

As a weird side note, someone told me that they thought getting the most in-depth diagnostics performed is the way to go because it's so sad that babies are born with defects like Down Syndrome so getting the information beforehand could allow for termination.  I was stunned at the statement because it basically was saying that people with genetic defects are better off dead.  That sounds suspiciously like Nazi talk to me and I forced myself to remain calm while I responded that I found it so sad that a mother would voluntarily stop her child's beating heart simply because the child didn't fit some definition of perfection. 

I used to think that people took out their brains when talking with pregnant women, but now I'm sure of it.  Hey, looks like increased wisdom has come with my advanced maternal age!


  1. I was going to leave a cool comment, but I am having toys thrown at me by Chloe, and she deleted everything that I typed by pressing a key with the darn toy. GRR!!!