If you want to feel great about how gracefully you are aging; if you want to believe that there is nothing scary or old about getting closer to 40 with every birthday; if you want to be able to live on less than 10 hours of sleep a night without turning into the Wicked Witch of the East, I highly recommend that you reconsider having a baby after you've turned 35.
I'm not saying that I would have done it differently, but I was unprepared for being treated like a senior citizen by my doctor's office. I should have seen it coming; certainly I've read all the pregnancy books several times over (during my first 3 pregnancies--I'm not even sure where they are now). I knew that having a baby after 35 pushed you into the high risk category. But somehow I thought that number just meant that the farther past 35 a woman was, the more . . . what? More likely yukky things can happen to you like gestational diabetes, preenclampsia, and a ridiculously huge belly compared to the 24 year olds!
I started catching on when I called my doctor's office to set up my first prenatal appointment. Not only do I abhor making phone calls that involve committing to something else on the calendar, but I also didn't want this pregnancy to seem like it was taking forever, so I didn't get around to calling them until I was 8 weeks pregnant. Okay, 8 1/2 weeks. But since I have typically not been seen until 11 or 12 weeks, I wasn't concerned.
The girl on the other end of the phone practically went into hysterics. Apparently since I was now of "Advanced Maternal Age," they wanted to see me much earlier. At 8 1/2 weeks, in fact. Did I expect them to fit me in that day or something? I assured her that I did not and that I had no desire to put their office into a tailspin with the terrible news of my pregnancy.
After talking her down off the ledge, I figured out that this very important appointment that HAD to be done at 8 1/2 weeks if we wanted to avoid a nuclear holocaust was an appointment with the geneticist. Basically, it is standard procedure to check for all sorts of genetic abnormalities at this time, just in case. I knew that just in case meant just in case I wanted to terminate the pregnancy, so I assured her that I didn't need to have this particular test-- that we would not be taking any action in the event of a genetic abnormality anyway, so why waste everybody's time?
Although my doctor continues to act as cool as a cucumber about the entire thing, the rest of his staff continue to try to force extra testing on me, all the while shaking their heads and wondering why anyone would take such crazy risks, especially when we already have four kids at home.
The real reason that I think it stinks to be pregnant and 35? There are exactly 8 women in my ward (congregation) who are pregnant this spring. One of them is due long past me, also with her 5th. The others? They are all young, cute, petite 20-somethings having their first or second baby. They look adorable, radiant, and tiny with a little baby bump. I'm sure they won't agree, but they do. Oh yeah, and they are mostly due BEFORE me--but you'd never guess it in a line-up!
But at the same time, it struck me the other day how blessed I am to be taking part with Heavenly Father in the creation of one of His children; that it is a great privilege to sacrifice my comforts to give life and a family and opportunity to a sweet little girl who will call me Mommy.
Yes, motherhood (and pregnancy) requires lots of work, sacrifice, and sleep-deprivation, often with little thanks. But it is all worth it. It is a HUGE part of why we are here and of how He intends to help us become like Him. And in spite of the aches, pains, nausea, fatigue, extra tests, and looks of shock on people's faces when they realize that I'm pregnant AGAIN, I wouldn't change it for the world.