For my entire adult life I figured by the time I turned 35, I'd have closed the door on my childbearing years. But I'm turning 35 in a month, and I can say with certainty that door is still ajar.
It seems I'm not alone. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, according to the most recent CDC National Survey of Family Growth, the age at which women are having children continues to rise. Many of us are waiting until our 30s, mid-30s and beyond to get pregnant.
Not that I waited per se. I had my first baby at 29, my second at 31 and my third at 34. Yes, gasp, I may want a fourth!
The prospect of adding to our family again is exciting, but scary too. I've been led to believe that trying to get pregnant after 35 is like skydiving: risky and potentially ill-advised. Yet most people who have gone skydiving say it was completely worth it.
So what is it about the age of 35 that makes trying to conceive so different from, say, 34? It's as if 35 is the dividing line between carefree baby making and cautious conception.
Let's start with the fact that moms-to-be who are over 35 are seen differently by the medical community. They are AMA or Advanced Maternal Age. Ouch.
Help! I've fallen and I can't reproduce!
All jokes aside, trying to get pregnant after 35 is riskier. According to the Mayo Clinic, conception for AMA women may take longer than it would for a younger woman because their eggs are produced less frequently and at a lower quality. The proverbial biological clock is not just a myth. Tick, tick.
The rapidly diminishing sands of time aside, like many women, my biggest fear about trying for a baby now is that the potential for complications is greater. Women who become pregnant after 35 are at a higher risk for having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities. We are also more likely to miscarry. It's scary -- really scary.
But are these risks scary enough to persuade me and other women like me to close the door on our childbearing years just because we've celebrated another birthday? I don't know; my particular door is pretty stubborn. It keeps insisting that I leave it open just enough to truly consider what life as a mom-of-four would be like.
For every woman age 35 and older, the decision to try to get pregnant is personal and should be discussed with her doctor, debated with her partner and internally contemplated with the utmost of gravity.
In the end, should you determine that you see a baby in your future, just think about how wise your advanced maternal age has made you! Oh, and consider that you won't be the only mom with an AARP card navigating the challenging waters of the teenage years. I'll probably be right there with you.