I wasn't sure about becoming a mom, but a few years ago I decided that I wanted a baby. I had finally gotten some luck in love and was in a relationship with an excellent partner who was also on the fence about having a kid. My wanderlust and adventure-seeking behavior had been quelled by age so I decided it was time to settle down with the aforementioned highly suitable mate. We agreed we wouldn't try to get pregnant until after we were legally wed.
I took great comfort in an article in The Atlantic which basically stated that all of the research on women's declining fertility after 35 comes largely from a study based on French birth records from 1670-1830. When I read that article in 2013, at age 35, I felt a sweeping sense of relief. I was engaged but not married and our wedding wasn't scheduled until 2014. I figured trying to get pregnant at 36 wouldn't be much different than getting pregnant at 35. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and if I knew what getting pregnant would be like in my mid-30s, I wouldn't have waited. I would have gotten knocked up on my first date with my husband and possibly saved us a lot of heartache. I don't have a time machine to go tell past me to get pregnant sooner so instead I'll share with you, dear reader, what I am sure will be an unpopular list of five reasons why I think you shouldn't wait to have a baby. That is, if you are sure you want to be a mother.
1.You won't feel like you have plenty of time. You will feel old and like your eggs are getting older every second, this may not even be true (French birth records from 1670-1830!) but it will still depress and frighten you.
2.You are more likely to have a miscarriage. Women who are 35-45 years old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage compared to women under the age of 35, who have about a 15% chance of miscarriage while women over the age of 45 can have up to a 50% chance of miscarriage. As someone who went through a terrible miscarriage, I can tell you — it's horrible and I wish it had never happened.
So to all you ladies turning 32 or 33 out there, if you want to be a mom and think you're ready, I say: Don't wait! Procreate!
3. Older eggs carry higher chances of chromosomal abnormalities. Down's Syndrome is the most common chromosomal defect and the risk is increased in women over 35. I sweated bullets waiting for the results of my MaterniT21 test. I was worried that even though we had made it to 12 weeks, I might end up having to make a difficult choice I wasn't ready to make.
4.Autism is more common among older parents.There is a large body of research to support this statement. I would be a liar if I said I didn't fear it for my baking bun. I just want my baby to be happy and healthy and have an easy life.
5.Super-old, sick or dead grandparents. I would really love to have my parents come and help us with the baby after he's born but it's not looking like that is something in the cards for us due to health issues. Also, when you wait till your late-30s, your parents may not really feel like coming to take care of your baby. They might be out gallivanting and enjoying their retirement so much they won't have time for you or be there for you in a truly helpful way.
Was I ready to have a baby at 28? No, I was very drunk most of the time and living in Japan. But I was in excellent shape, at a healthy weight, had tons of energy and years ahead of me. I had no husband, only a string of highly unsuitable boyfriends, and it realistically wasn't an ideal time for me to get pregnant. But after 6 months of dating the man who is now my husband, I wish we had just went for it.
Getting pregnant has been a challenging situation for me and I'm not even battling infertility. I had one miscarriage and got pregnant soon after that drawn-out nightmare but the trauma of the miscarriage affected me deeply. I didn't have a difficult time conceiving with either pregnancy — but at 36, I'm considered high-risk. I'm having a geriatric pregnancy (seriously, that is what they call it). The two D&Cs I had for my one miscarriage are probably the reason I have a marginal previa, which caused bleeding and made me think I was losing the baby, again. It has also made my old-woman pregnancy extra high-risk. I'm tired as hell , I'm fat and living in fear of gestational diabetes. So to all you ladies turning 32 or 33 out there: If you want to be a mom and think you're ready I say, don't wait! Procreate!