Uh oh. According to a Gallup survey, the results of which were released last week, the “ideal” age for women to get pregnant is 25. Since I was pretty much hopping from one horrible Brooklyn apartment to another at that age and sulking for a living, my mid-twenties would have been a bad time for me to take on the responsibility of caring for a helpless infant. Not to mention, I hadn’t yet met the love of my life – so I’m pretty grateful I waited.
But now I’m in my – gasp – mid thirties. And it seems everyone is taking these Gallup poll results a bit too seriously. I delivered my first child at 31 and will be 35 when I give birth this spring. The first time around, I saw my doctor once a month until my third trimester, when the number of visits increased to once every three weeks. It was totally manageable.
And even though I’m fit and healthy today, with a stable relationship and income, I can’t help but notice doctors are treating me as if I am a very delicate, antique piece of China that must be preserved at all costs. A mere three years has passed since my last pregnancy, but in baby-making terms, you might as well be talking about 20 years. I was advised early on that it would be wise of me to opt for something called genetic counseling – not because I have family members with genetic disorders – but simply because of my advanced age. I could have said no. It’s a free world — I know it. But what if they’re right and something in my body has become frozen during those three years? Do I want to take that risk?
At the end of the day, I’m overly cautious and knew from the start I’d sign up for each and every test my hospital suggested I receive. So I’ve had my finger pricked and my insurance company charged $250 for what amounted to two dots of blood spread across a piece of paper, which ultimately determined that I am not at risk for any number of chromosomal disorders. Whew. But that’s not where it ends. My gynecologist performs a sonogram on my growing belly every four weeks and I’ve been instructed to visit a lab affiliated with my hospital every four weeks, as well – for yet another sonogram “just to keep tabs on the heartbeat and make sure everything is okay,” according to my doctor.
But I haven’t been told anything is wrong with my baby’s heart, so should I be worried?
No, not necessarily. I should just get used to the fact that I am “high risk” in doctors’ eyes and in order to prevent me from possibly suing them if something were to go wrong, they are going to stress me to the point of exhaustion every few weeks.
The infinite number of tests and unnecessary stress will all be worth it in the end. I know that. But if someone had told me a few years ago that there’s a major difference between giving birth at 33 and 35, I might have gotten a move on it, oh, just about 6 months earlier.