Record numbers of women are focusing on their careers and putting off starting a family past the age of 40. But waiting to get pregnant at that age may create fertility problems. And that’s what happened to me. When I decided to finally get pregnant, at age 39, I found out I needed help from a fertility doctor.
According to a Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority report, the number of women turning to IVF treatments has increased by 500 percent over the past 20 years. One of the biggest rises was among 42-year-old women. The increase was from 300 to 1,839 in the same time period.
I was 39 years old, and one year into my marriage, when I started trying to get pregnant for the first time. My husband and I tried the old-fashioned way for several months. Nothing was happening. I began taking my temperature and clocking my ovulation cycle to pinpoint my most fertile days. Still nothing. I turned to alternative medicine and began herb and acupuncture treatments. I did this for about four months. I felt better and had more energy, but I was not getting pregnant. My baby clock got louder.
My husband and I decided to seek the help of a fertility specialist. After several medical tests, my fertility doctor declared my ovaries to be as young as those of a 30-year-old woman. I believe, it was the acupuncture and herbs that helped rejuvenate my ovaries. The doctor felt we could hold off IVF treatment and try something less invasive.
My doctor recommended I take a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) administered by injection to help my ovaries produce multiple eggs and increase my chances of getting pregnant naturally. Talk about taking the romance out of the baby-making process.
My husband became my pregnancy nurse. He would inject the FSH near my belly button every night, for seven consecutive days. After a few daily injections near my belly button, I felt as bloated as if I was really, several months pregnant.
I finally became pregnant one month after my first cycle using FSH injections. Unfortunately, nine weeks into my pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. I was devastated.
My husband and I were advised to wait eight weeks before trying again. That sounded like an eternity. My baby clock was sounding louder and louder. I got back FSH injections. I became pregnant again after one cycle. My husband, and I were cautiously elated. My pregnancy progressed right along. I was having a boy!
Twenty-two weeks into my pregnancy, in the middle of the night, my water broke. There was no rhyme or reason for it. I was not in labor! I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, with my legs elevated. There was so much jolting in the ambulance, I truly thought I’d deliver the baby on the way to the hospital.
Very long story, short, I spent eight, bedridden weeks in the hospital, hoping and praying that my baby would not be born too soon. He was living inside of me with very little amniotic fluid.
Every day he wasn’t born early, was a blessing. Every week I didn’t go into labor, became a medical miracle. My baby was finally born 10 weeks early, via emergency C-section.
I got to see his little newborn face for 5 seconds before he was rushed away to the neonatal intensive care unit. He weighed 3 pounds and had to spend time in an incubator. I didn’t get to hold him for several days. He spent eight weeks in the NICU.
Because my son was so premature, he didn’t know how to breathe, swallow and suck at the same time. Sometimes he’d stop breathing and his heart monitor would set off loud alarms. Thank you nurses, for helping me keep my composure when this happened.
He finally reached the five-pound weight necessary to leave the hospital. He had also learned to suck, swallow and breath all at once. He came home two weeks before Christmas.
My son is now, a healthy, very smart, and happy, 7-year-old boy. It is amazing how far medical advancements have come, in giving women the ability to wait longer before deciding to become pregnant.
The choice to hold off getting pregnant comes with some high risks, no guarantees, possible heartache, and steep financial costs. A woman should know way in advance, what are her options are, before making this decision.