Why It’s OK to be of “Advanced Maternal Age”
I turned 35 last month, and I had my first baby in October, so I slipped just under the “AMA” (Advanced Maternal Age) or the oh-so-flattering “Elderly Prima Gravis” (pregnant for the first time after age 35) classification. But when you think about it, all the factors that automatically put older women into the “moderate risk pregnancy” category don’t occur overnight at age 35, but are gradual changes to the body. I’m fortunate that I avoided, by just four months, a lot of arguing with doctors over recommended tests and a lot of additional monitoring.
In spite of the slightly increased risk of complications that come with having a baby over the age of 35, there are a host of benefits that come with it after the child is born.
For me, I could not have imagined having a daughter one minute before it happened. What are some of the things we have working to our advantage when we’re a bit older and (presumably) wiser?
- Increased financial status – As a general rule, men and women in their 30s and 40s are earning more than their fresh-out-of-college 20-something counterparts. The odds are better that you own a house, have a reliable car, and maybe even have some savings tucked away for an emergency. Of course, there’s the old adage: “If everyone waited until they could afford it to have kids, there would be no babies!” And this is true. But waiting can definitely alleviate some of the financial stress that comes with children.
- More patience – I’ll admit I was selfish, impatient and even a bit flighty in my twenties. Now I am more settled into my life. I’ve done many of the things I’ve always wanted to do, seen some of the world, wasted many days and nights, and figured out exactly who I am and what I believe in. Maybe it’s this personal growth that has given me more patience. I don’t think I could have handled the frustration and ineptitude (mine) of being a new mom, the lengthy crying sessions (hers), or the sleepless nights (hers and mine!) when I was younger.
- We can appreciate it more – The odds of a successful conception and pregnancy decrease as you get older. Maybe this is why older parents seem even more grateful for our children. This thought struck me as I was reading my own baby book. My mom had me when she was 40. In the back of my baby book, she had placed a lengthy note, a beautifully-written update of my life that simply wouldn’t fit into the pre-determined spots in the baby book. One line stands out in my mind: “Sometimes I can’t believe she’s mine!”
This is exactly how I feel about Ashley (wow, I wish my mom was here so I could tell her that.) I look at this little girl and realize I couldn’t possibly love her more if I tried.
Some younger moms might say I would have done better than I think I would have raising a child when I was in my 20s, and that could be true. Certainly, I might have loved her just as much as I do now.
But I want to let all the new moms who are over 35 (or even close to the borderline!) know that not only is your child is a very special gift to you, you have done the right thing by bringing your baby into this world at this time – not a moment sooner, not a moment later! So wear that AMA badge with pride, and know that it means that you waited until you were ready!