Moving Beyond the Advanced Maternal Age Stamp
Not too long ago, I wrote a humorous post about getting the AMA stamp on my medical chart when I was pregnant ( at age 40) and how it affected me. It was hard for me, at the time, to reconcile the fact that I was actually in this category. I guess I am not unlike a lot of people in that I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that I kept aging past my 30th birthday.
The thoughts and emotions behind that post had been occupying a place in my mind for some time before I actually sat down and wrote them. It was the very first post I ever wrote for my blog, and it turns out that it might just have had more of an impact than any others that I’ve written since.
I was amazed by the sheer number and the wide range of responses I got from that Advanced Maternal Age post. Women shared stories of their struggles to conceive, laughed at memories of comments made by complete strangers, described their joy at being able to finally start the family they’d always dreamed of, and expressed their shock at surprise pregnancies. Others wrote of their decision to foster or adopt. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As diverse as all these stories were, one common theme emerged: Many of the women (myself included) wrote about their reactions to all the gloom and doom stories and statistics that currently seem to dominate the information available to women who are planning on starting a family after the age of 35.
That information has it’s place, for sure. Most, if not all, women I have talked to are very well aware of the risks and challenges associated with pregnancy at an advanced maternal age. It’s hard to avoid if you do even the most cursory of investigations on the topic. But what about the types of stories that came in the responses to my post? Where are they?
So many women are embarking on the path to motherhood at a later time in their lives. There are many reasons for it: waiting for the right partner, education, careers, just living life. The list goes on and on. Isn’t it time we expand on the conversation? Let’s go into this experience informed on the medical issues, but let’s also support, celebrate and encourage the decision (or circumstances) that brought us to this place--a place of wisdom, courage, maturity and a true appreciation of ourselves as mothers and the children that we birth, foster and adopt at an advanced maternal age.
Jennifer Rustgi is a co-editor of The Advanced Maternal Age Project