Advanced Maternal Age. Fertility Age Means What?
There is something profoundly humbling about dealing with infertility. I’m a Type A personality. To say that I am driven, would be an understatement. I’ve managed to accomplish every goal that I have set out to accomplish. Then along came infertility. I set about it in the usual way I set about getting things done. I needed to understand the beast, if I was going to take it down.
First, I needed to understand how the female reproductive system functioned. I can’t remember if I slept through Sexual Education in school or not, but I certainly don’t remember learning that a woman has multiple phases during each cycle, such as a follicular and luteal phase. I don’t want to defame my high school teacher, but I’m pretty sure she only covered menstruation and ovulation. I remember feeling like both of those were yucky things to be endured and spent most of my adult life woefully under appreciative of the magic that is my body.
Fast forward thirty years and I have a new appreciation for my body and what it does each cycle. It is nothing short of amazing. I am in awe of it’s majesty and I now understand how beautiful menstruation and ovulation are and that they will be sorely missed when they stop arriving every 26 days. At the age of 47, I am keenly aware that their end will happen sooner rather than later. I am respectful of their monthly occurrence. Most women who are trying to conceive curse the appearance of their menstrual cycle as a sign that another cycle has yielded nothing. No positive pregnancy test, no end to the ride. I of course have moments of anger knowing that I’ve had another unproductive cycle. My anger is quickly tempered by reverence that my “advanced maternal age” body has a cycle that still ticks on like a metronome. It is glimmer of light, even in the darkness. I am able to try again.
It would be laughable to say my biological clock is ticking. Closer to actuality to acknowledge that this clock, she’s about to strike midnight! There is nary a prince nor fairy godmother in site. Nope, but the clock will eventually strike it’s final tick nonetheless and I’ll have left the ball and my vibrant youth will be merely a memory of what used to be.
Most women on the dawn of menopause, or in perimenopause, as the medical community refers to it, are content to go quietly in the night. I am not such a woman. I have the unmitigated audacity to not only stomp loudly in defiance of the inevitable, but to ask for the seemingly impossible. I am asking for one, hoping for two, more children of my own eggs to spring forth from my 47 year old womb.
Sure, I’ve read all the data. I was born with all the eggs I’ll ever have and they diminish as I age. I was also born with all the limbs, eyes, and ears that I’ll ever have and they also diminish with age. It doesn’t, necessarily, mean that they will be rendered completely useless at once, like shutting off a faucet.
However despite all the data, the data that says I have a 1% chance to conceive at my age (or conversely a 99% chance not to conceive), I persist. I am a woman with without regrets and I intend to remain so. I will deeply regret it, if I don’t see this through…to it’s rightful end. I am not however, a woman with endless means. So I’ve decided to end my journey with IVF through the end of 2018 or May 2019. May is my birthday and I believe if I haven’t conceived by 48, I will be okay to walk away from this infertility rollercoaster without regrets. Mind you, I am the same woman who swears I won’t take a pregnancy test every cycle and then there I am sobbing on the bathroom floor, inconsolable.
It is the vivid memory of being collapsed on the bathroom floor that makes me sure I have to set clear boundaries for myself. I honestly hoped I would be pregnant long ago, without the assistance of IVF. Yet, here I am. I’ve swapped out my Rose’ for DHEA and have undertaken a major health overall to prep for this last stand.
Oh, what a rollercoaster this has been. Let’s see….in January of 2017, I was a carefree (if not nearly careless) single woman who drank, smoke and lived a decadent life. As if summoned by a great calling, I quit smoking in March only to learn later that month that I was pregnant. I was confused about the pregnancy and what my next steps should be and then as soon as I decided I wanted my baby, God had other plans. A year later, I’m eating nutrient dense food, purchasing supplements by the truckload, receiving acupucture weekly, attending various forms of weekly yoga, meditating, and praying….A LOT.
Infertility does not define me, however, it has grounded me in who I truly am and given me a deeper love and respect for what I capable of doing. My mettle has been tested like no other time in my life and I am profoundly grateful. My baby is waiting. It is a matter of when we meet, not if.