As I am not a man and I am also not prone to jumping in cold water, until two months ago, I did not have experience with body parts shrinking. But then came the appointment with the doctor. It was rather routine in its embarrassment — the closure to my gown impossible to keep completely closed. What was not routine? The news delivered halfway through the appointment, as though it was commonplace. All of a sudden I qualified as being of “advanced maternal age.” And thwump — there went my ovaries, from robust grapes to petrified little raisins in less than a millisecond.
Immediately, this new classification struck me as being most inconvenient for the child who was already growing in my belly. He started out with a mom who was sprightly and energetic. Sure, it was clear she wasn’t exactly a spring chicken, but he’s a smart one, so surely he knows spring chickens can be overrated.
Then one day he gets a big delivery of birthday cake to the gut and suddenly — when the sugar cloud clears — he starts to notice that the world around him isn’t what it was before. What are these cobwebs starting to grow everywhere? Is his womb being propped up with a cane? And why has his mother started eating so much Jell-O?
To me, advanced maternal age sounded like something a wrinkle cream company would make up. I can say that because I work as an advertising copywriter, and so I am actually a person that a wrinkle cream company would hire to make up just that sort of imaginary syndrome.
I can picture the project brief now: “We need a name that’s slightly daunting, but not terrifying. Just unnerving enough to raise awareness in women that there is something they can do about getting older.”
Where “raise awareness” equals “provoke fear.” And “something they can do” equals “buy super-expensive wrinkle cream.” And P.S. “getting older”? That equals “inevitability.”
So, what is a woman supposed to do about being of advanced maternal age? Is there anything you can do, or is it just about what you’re supposed to think? One more tiny seed of fear planted in the soil of pregnancy. Yet another rule to follow in what has become nine months of potential landmines. Tiptoe around this deli meat! Hey, you there, the one of advanced maternal age, are you sure you should be wearing those red stiletto heels? Wouldn’t Mary Janes be more prudent?
But the thing is, I don’t really want to cloud this pregnancy with worry and fear. I feel better today than I did when I was pregnant at 31. Every year brings more comfort in my own skin, and I find myself less susceptible to the ups and downs of the outside world. Every mother gets to define “good” for herself, but when I think of good, I think of rock solid. Not the mother who’s everybody’s friend. Not the mother who’s the coolest chick in the carpool line. But the one who is a steady ship, who cannot be pushed from course.
And I can tell you that at 25, I was not anything close to a ship. Maybe more of a canoe. Definitely not a vessel that could carry passengers through the tumultuous seas of life.
So, bring on the labels and the scary statistics. I’m of advanced maternal age because I have enough years under my belt to know that these days, you have to ignore at least half of what you hear. If my uterus needs a pep talk now and again, so be it. As long as it doesn’t require wrinkle cream.
And labor & delivery, would you mind dusting off the Depeche Mode and Journey? You’ve got an oldie but a goodie heading your way sometime close to Christmas.