Coming late to Show and Tell this week. This week I have a “Tell.”
“Advanced Reproductive Age”
“Advanced Maternal Age”
That’s the diagnosis for us older women. I’ve even heard the term “Geriatric Maternal Age!” YIKES! I knew as I was getting older that it could be harder to conceive, but I really didn’t know the cold, hard facts until my first RE visit. No gynecologist ever warned me. I knew once I hit 35 that the chances of genetic abnormalities increased, but I still thought I had a good chance of getting pregnant. Maybe I’d need some clomid or something.
I have a cousin who was anovulatory who got pregnant her second month on clomid. A friend in her late 30s got pregnant on her second IVF, but she’s a DES daughter, so I didn’t think her situation applied to me. Another friend tried some DIUIs as a single woman in her late 30s that didn’t work. But she had irregular cycles and told me that her hormone levels were very bad. (I didn’t know about FSH and all that stuff at the time.) My cycles were like clockwork. I’d never gotten pregnant, but I’d been so careful when I was younger. As I got older, I was less careful. I figured I was just missing the “window.” I spent most of my 30s and early 40s working freelance and had no insurance. I would just pay out of pocket for my annual pap and the occasional dr’s visit.
Then at 44 I was hired by the company I’d been freelancing for. I made my first RE appointment. I was stunned to hear the dr tell me, without any testing yet, that at my age, we needed to go straight to IVF. He said that when a woman is in her 20s, 90% of her eggs are genetically normal. At 44, at least 90% of my eggs are genetically abnormal. I was told that even with IVF, at the maximum dose of medication, I had a less than 5% chance getting pregnant and bringing home a baby. That if I did manage to get pregnant, the miscarriage rate at my age is 50%. Cold. Hard. Facts.
Then I started the testing process and found I had a polyp in my uterine lining that was certain to prevent implantation. It was right past my cervix. Two drs looking at my HSG films said I basically had a homegrown IUD. So whatever fertility I’d had the previous years was screwed by this damn growth. The last few years of OPKs and baby dancing were a waste of money and pee.
The polyp was removed, and after SIX cancelled IVF cycles, I managed to get to retrieval and transfer. I had one lone embryo. My RE said my chances of success on that cycle were about 1%. As you know, I was not in that 1%. But getting that far has made it easier to move on.
Why am I sharing this? I know most of you are aware of these facts, but if I can save one woman the heartache I’ve endured, it’s worth sharing. I was inspired to share this by a woman I met in the waiting room last Friday while waiting for my lining check. Usually people make an effort not to interact in the waiting room, but I’m chatty, and it’s so damn boring. Everyone sitting there is going through something difficult. Why shouldn’t we connect? So, I’m talking to this woman, she’s 37 and going through her first IVF. As we talked more, it turns out she’s not really feeling ready for motherhood yet, but she has great insurance coverage, so she is planning to freeze all her embryos for future use. I WAS SO DAMN IMPRESSED! Proactive fertility treatment! Awesome!
It’s so easy to live in denial and just hope that everything will work as it should when the time is right. Biology doesn’t wait for us. Brava to this woman for taking action. She wasn’t doing this fearlessly. She has a fear of needles and sometimes faints at blood draws. And she was really scared about the retrieval. BUT SHE WAS DOING IT ANYWAY! Again, BRAVA!!!
So that’s my cautionary tale. Don’t forget to see what the rest of the class is showing.
1 week ago