Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's like the internet is out to discourage me

It's galling, trolling the internet for statistics on getting pregnant over 40. I Googled in a frame of mind that I considered both realistic and hopeful, and found a vast, depressing world of disheartening, scary assertions. I can't quite bring myself to call them facts as it was hard to find primary sources, but they were reasonably consistent from site to site so I figure they're probably in the ballpark, if not exactly on the money.

I can't rouse the energy to properly footnote, but the gist is this:

  • At age 40, 90% of a woman's eggs are chromosomally abnormal
  • For a 40-year-old, 50% of pregnancies result in miscarriage
  • The risk of Down syndrome is five times higher at a maternal age of 40 than at 35; there is a twofold increase just between 38 and 40
  • Prenancies in which the male partner is over 35 are also at increased risk of Down syndrome
  • Parental age is linked to significantly higher rates of autism spectrum and pervasive developmental disorders
  • The risks of developing preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and other complications of pregnancy are significantly elevated after 40
  • Advanced parental age is linked to more distant relationships with adult children
  • Women over 40 are selfish, privileged idiots for wanting to have babies
  • We should have done our childbearing in our 20s like Real Americans

Gah. I feel like a failure already.


Anonymous Kath said...

Dear Bugs, not that I want to diss my good friend and counselor D. Google, but may I offer a bit of perspective?

The risk of carrying a fetus with Down Syndrome (the numbers refer to fetuses at 16 weeks' gestation, not all conceptions -- it's hard to get good data on those) is 1 in 75 at age 40 and in in 60 at age 41 (up from 1 in 250 at age 35). A dramatic increase in the relative risk, yes, but look at the absolute numbers, too. The odds are still very much in your favor.

That's not to say I wasn't scared too, but those numbers helped me a little. (And I had my second healthy girl at age 41. My husband was almost 47.)

One thing, though, is absent from your otherwise excellent list of things to worry about: sleep deprivation. That's the only risk you can actually put your money on. ;)

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the risk of DS does go significantly up as you approach or pass 35 and then 40. BUT, look at the numbers, even for a 40 year old, they're not 1 in every 2 pregnancies. The risks are higher, relatively speaking, but the risk is still a relatively low risk.

If you want another baby, and you've got the emotional stamina to get yourself through the charting, the hoping, the waiting, etc. then your age should not be your sole factor here.

I'm currently pregnant with number 5 (I have a foster son and two year old triplets, so this is only my second viable pregnancy, but kid number 5), and I *know* this will be my last one - but not because of my age or because DEAR GOD FIVE???, but because it turns out that for me, pregnancy sucks. Mightily. THAT is an entirely different kind of decision-point.

The thing I hate most about infertility is that it takes perceived choices away. But I encourage you to embrace your choices. If you want to try for another baby? Then you know what you want and you should try to make it happen. Particularly since your husband is on the same page.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

That Internet is a fickle one, isn't she?

I know you're doing the right thing, sweetie, and I have all the hope in the world that it works out well for you two.

6:25 AM  
Anonymous B.Mare said...

Darlink! I am just so excited that I have a comrade in control freakery while trying to conceive! Let's snort some babydust and worry together.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Clover said...

Totally depressing. If I ever find another guy, I've had thoughts of having another baby, but since I'm 38 now, that won't be any time soon. Depressing. Ugh!

9:58 PM  
Blogger Thalia said...

What Kath said. The relative risks are higher, the absolute risks are not so bad. And here I am with one baby conceived spontaneously aged 39, 11 months and three weeks, and one IVF baby conceived at 41 years and 9 months. Both with no obvious defects. It can be fine.

2:17 AM  

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