My Third Pregnancy: Advanced Maternal Age (part 1)

Image of Mother with Child

From the Library of Congress, Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection

My third child was similar to my first two because she was a wonderful surprise. When I was a teenager I was told that it would be difficult for me to have children. With each surprise, I realized that the doctor had been wrong. However, this third pregnancy was different from the others in that I had turned 36 during the 2nd month, and therefore was considered advanced maternal age, or high risk. Sure, I had complications in my previous pregnancies that might have made me high risk, such as preeclampsia with my first, and gestational diabetes with my second…but to be told that I am high risk simply because I’m over 35, or medically considered an old lady with a swiftly shriveling reproduction system, was a tad enlightening. And somehow, when my son was born with me at 34, I wasn’t too old to have babies naturally yet.

So, it began when I was 3-4 weeks along. In my many old years I’ve come to know my body quite well, and after two previous pregnancies, I knew the signs. So on my way home one day I asked my husband on the phone, “How would you like to have another baby?” His answer was, “You’re pregnant? You’re kidding, right? So much for not being able to get pregnant easily.” I had wanted another child, so I was very excited. My husband was happy too, but being the less positive of us, was concerned about how our high needs, still breastfeeding two-year-old would do with a new baby. I knew that my son could adjust and that a little sibling could be really good for him.

Our eldest grew up somewhat like an only child, and had quite a few lonely years when we lived in a neighborhood with very few children. Play dates and sleepovers were great for her, but on weekends without those, she played alone and made friends with butterflies, caterpillars, and our cats instead. She says that she didn’t mind being an only child until she was a teenager because there are advantages, but she also said that she wished many times for a sibling. However, by the time our son was born, our daughter was fully transitioning from child to werewolf, er, teenager. She was no longer interested in having a sibling, especially if it arrived as a crying baby.

At my first appointment, near 12 weeks along, I was told that I needed to stop breastfeeding to prevent early contractions. Two days later I was called and told to start taking prometrium for borderline low progesterone. I started researching this right away. I called the doctor’s office the next day and asked, “Could my breastfeeding be causing the low progesterone?” I was told no, and that progesterone isn’t affected by breastfeeding. So then I began to worry and wanted to see another doctor. When I did finally see another doctor, the first thing that the new doctor said to me was, “You know you’re high risk because of your age, right?” Oh great, another discussion about my shriveling, ancient, mummy-like body. They made it seem like it was a near miracle that I could even be carrying a baby.

I then went home, started to think about all of the talk concerning how much this old lady needs medications to stay pregnant. It seemed that the medical professionals were telling me to be really scared about the impending doom of my unnatural pregnancy. So what did I do? I began to get scared. I mean, if the professionals thought I should be concerned, maybe I should, right?

I knew that the La Leche League stated that breastfeeding is perfectly safe while pregnant. And I knew that breastfeeding could affect progesterone levels. I also read about how some doctors don’t agree that prometruim helps pregnancies stick, and some even refuse to prescribe the medication because of potential negative side effects. So I knew that the medical professionals weren’t always right. But I was also told that because I am now an old lady, I should be getting all sorts of tests to make sure my baby didn’t have several different issues or problems, and that I needed to complete the tests before the abortion cut-off date. I refused all tests. I wanted my baby no matter what might be wrong or different about her. And I certainly wasn’t performing any test that could potentially harm her, no matter how slim that chance. I don’t judge those that make a choice different from my own. We all have to do what is right for our circumstances. But I already loved my baby so much and decided long ago that I would love my children no matter how they came to me.

I loved my baby enough to give her the best chance at life. I decided to take the prometrium regardless of my knowledge and doubts, just in case there was a slight chance that it would prevent any issues. I then weaned my son, who was breastfeeding only two times at night, so that I could take medications and not harm him with any potential side effects. Weaning him was really far more difficult for me than it was for him. He only asked to breastfeed two more times.

If my body was going to be considered too old, I thought I had to do what was needed and protect the baby. Little did I know that taking the prometrium and staying with my first doctor would cause me so much worry, doubt, fear, and trouble.


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