As I hung up with yet another woman who had just celebrated her 42nd birthday and was trying valiantly to have a baby I sighed. My heart was heavy for her – she had just returned from her Reproductive Endocrinologist who had delivered the news that her FSH levels were too high and her best chance at becoming a mother through a pregnancy would be through donor eggs.
In the end, I knew her outcome would probably be positive. She would find an RE that she trusted, she’d find an egg donor, she’d cycle, get pregnant, and hopefully in a years’ time, take home a bundle of joy and go on with her life as a parent.
In the meantime, I listened as she cried, and yelled and vented. “Why didn’t my OBGYN tell me this when I was 35? I would have begun treatment then!? No one said a word to me other than your pap smear is fine and you are healthy!”
In today’s society more and more women are putting off child bearing because they think they can. No one has told them differently. They see celebrities all around them having babies well into their 40’s and they think they have time.“Where were you and what were you doing in your early 30’s?” I have often asked and I have heard the following:· Still single. Mr. Right didn’t come along until I was 38, we dated two years and I married him at 40. We began to try right away and it never happened for us. So here we are today.· I was in law school (or medical school, pick the graduate school of your choice) preparing to graduate at age 32 and jumping right into my career. No one ever told me that I needed to try and conceive then – I thought for sure I had years. After all women like Susan Sarandon had a baby at 46, Cheryl Tiegs was 52, and Beverly D'Angelo was 49 so what gives?· In my late 20’s and early 30’s I was in a crappy marriage. I’d had two kids and was a single mom. When I met the love of my life at 38, we decided to try and have a baby a few years after we were married. Since I had two kids already my doctor didn’t tell me this would be so difficult. I am now 41, been pregnant twice and miscarried twice. They now tell me my eggs are old and bad. Why didn’t they tell me this sooner?The message is clear: WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME SOONER!?There always seems to be the need to blame someone – the doctor, themselves, the celebrities who are having babies in their 40’s with what looks to us like ease. But at the end of the day it’s our choice when and where we are going to begin our family building – however, it would be nice to be armed with the correct information so we can make an educated decision.The reality is women who are in the midst of their childbearing years, who are reproductively healthy have a one in four (25%) chance of conceiving each month. So having a baby is not as easy as it looks. And those women who do get pregnant, 25% of them will miscarry for a variety of reasons.Fertility peaks in most women in the 20s, and then slowly begins to decline in the late 20s. At around age 32-35, fertility starts to really decline. For example, in any given month, your chances of getting pregnant at age 30 are about 20%. At age 40, your chance of getting pregnant in any given month is just 5%.FIVE PERCENT!So why aren’t celebs speaking up and saying they had help having a baby, either through donor eggs or surrogacy. Because there is still this crazy stigma shrouding egg donation. For whatever reason some still view egg donation as something out of an episode of Star Trek. Or that egg donation and surrogacy are just for the rich and famous. Or better yet, that egg donation is somehow a way to make the next generation of designer and perfect children.Really? The truth is having a baby regardless of how exciting and joyful the experience can be – it’s also intimate and private. How our babies are created is not something we take an ad out in our local newspaper or place on TV during primetime. And the reality is celebrities don’t owe us an explanation in regards to how they created their family. Would it be nice if a celebrity who had a baby in her 40’s would step up to the platform and say “HEY I HAD A BABY IN MY 40’s AND IT WASN’T EASY IN FACT I USED DONOR EGGS” But we can’t count on that. It’s not their responsibility to make a PSA for those of us over 40. What we can do however, is become an advocate for ourselves and ask questions about our own bodies and fertility rates.