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I’ve had a long time – three years in fact – to ruminate on baby-making. And now I’m in my third trimester and sort of relaxing (about the bubba at any rate), I’ve actually had the chance to look back and see what a momentous and unbelievable journey it has been.
There were times I thought it would never happen and there are still times where I have to pinch myself that it IS happening. Because, at 40, you’re never quite sure if you’ll be lucky or one of the many older wannabe mums who tragically misses out because of age, or egg quality or other extenuating but equally tragic circumstances (like not meeting the right person before your baby-making time runs out).
Like ‘smug marrieds’ I love to hate, I’m ashamed to say I used to be smug about getting pregnant. I was convinced that I didn’t need to do anything and when I chucked my pills out on my honeymoon, I was SURE I would be up the duff within weeks if not a couple of months. I was healthy! I only drank a few times a week! I exercised! I was going to be one of those women who had a bun in the oven in no time flat, dammit!
Much to my utter surprise (and increasing panic), I wasn’t one of those women.
The months rolled by and each one brought a similar kick in the guts – no blue line, no baby. Soon, it wasn’t months. It was nearly two years. Little did I know it would be another year before we’d crack the jackpot, so to speak (more on that in the coming weeks).
But, around this time of panic and wailing and gnashing of teeth over my inability to be a mother, I was asked to write a series of fertility articles about how your lifestyle choices could impact your ability to get pregnant. I wasn’t surprised; call it the journalist’s curse, which involves being commissioned – often quite innocently on the editor’s part – to write about whatever you’re going through AT THE TIME (no joke, I’ve been commissioned to write break-up articles when I was mid-break-up, or weight loss articles when I was struggling to lose 10kg. Or, ahem, reno articles when I am mid-nightmare-reno).
Naturally, I jumped in with both feet and picked the brains of that obstetrician like no expert I’d interviewed before. She had seen it all and then some. And while I thought I knew about getting pregnant, I really didn’t know how much your lifestyle could affect your chances (see paragraph above re ‘smug’). How much you drink, whether you smoke, what you eat and how little you exercise can impact your baby-making paraphernalia.
There’s really no point comparing yourself to pregnant crack addicts and obese women and women who smoke and drink heavily and conceive without any problems. Or women who hit 43 and get pregnant with their third kid naturally after trying six weeks. Because trust me, none of those women matter when it’s you darkening the door of a fertility clinic.
What do we know already? According to a recent study commissioned by Queensland Fertility Group, 92 percent of women are aware that being overweight can scupper their chances of conceiving, and 74 percent know that caning it on the cocktails is also not great when you’re trying to get pregnant. But a not-to-be-sniffed at 64 percent didn’t know that their fertility was on the downhill slide from age 36.
I knew, but still thought I’d be fine starting the baby-making quest at 36 – not so. To my mind, IVF was the light at the end of the tunnel if I ever needed it (which apparently, 60 percent of women believe), but it’s often not. You find out how scary the stats are when you actually go down that path. You meet the women who’ve been doing it for years. You sit next to them and read five-year-old magazines in uncomfortable waiting rooms, which by and large, are steeped in not a little desperation.
Don’t get me wrong. IVF is great – I’ll talk more about it in a future post in terms of our journey and how our precious wee chicklet came to be. But it can be a long, hard and expensive road, which is why I’m all for campaigns that raise awareness about age, lifestyle and declining fertility for women and men. As much as I am for campaigns that educate men about their fertility and not dragging their feet on becoming fathers – for although they can technically father kids into their twilight years, there are many, many reasons why they shouldn’t.
RC readers… did you make any lifestyle changes to help better your chances of getting pregnant? Or were you lucky enough to hit the jackpot within months of trying? And for those who want kids but aren’t at that ‘stage or age’ yet, is age something you worry about? Do you think IVF is the magic bullet?