Family Matters
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Pregnant at 43?

So, recently my aunt Becca has found out that she is expecting her first child at 43, and she is freaking the hell out.

She started trying about 2 decades ago and gave up after never conceiving. I am not sure when this was, as I was still a teenager and she didn't talk to me much about it. I really only found out after my own miscarriage 2 years ago. 

Anyways, she saw a doctor who feels she would be better off terminating the pregnancy, which has me aghast. This doctor is highly clinical and was giving her all these facts about how the pregnancy would be hard and she may go through it all, risk her life, and get a child with a genetic disorder. My aunt is considering this for not only the safety reasons, but she worries it's not good for her child to have to deal with retired parents when they are just heading off to college. Or having to deal with aging parents when they should be starting families of their own. 

Her husband is pretty upset with her for even suggesting she terminate after trying for so long. He wants this child, and from what I can tell it's hurting their marriage that she is even considering abortion. He is apparently trying to understand it's her body and her choice, but he cannot get past that this baby is his as well. 

My aunt is really healthy, so my uncle feels if Becca went to the fertility doctor, who knew the whole infertile past, she'd provide better security and support, but Becca isn't sure yet. 

I am pretty young myself (newlywed, as I think my siggy shows) so I am not sure what I can tell her. I am trying to help her, but I am pretty against abortion myself. I also recognize that I have no idea what she is dealing with though. If I were pregnant, there'd be no question to keeping it. I am 24, of course we'd keep it. But I don't fully grasp what a 43 year old woman would be feeling. And while she will share some with me she is still shutting me out of a lot of her feelings and thoughts. (She actually only came to me because she felt I was the only one who could understand the panic of a pregnancy since I was caught off-guard with my unwanted pregnancy 3 years ago, then it seemed, she regretted it when I didn't react the way she wanted.)

Can anyone help me as to what I can even offer her right now? Or maybe tell me more about what it's like to be MIDDLE AGED and dealing with an unwanted pregnancy? I mean, I only know what it's like to be young and pregnant...and the only reason I was scared was because I was unmarried, and knew I couldn't provide. 

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Re: Pregnant at 43?

  • My mother was 42 when she gave birth to my brother. I was 17, an only child and she had been told she would never have another child. 

    The shock hit us all, Mom and Dad. Yes we are 100% full siblings.

    My Mom was shocked by how many of her friends urged her to abort as they had done or felt she should. The research is yadda ya. Whatever.

    My brother is 100% healthy, normal and is in honors classes. He is very active and in select baseball. My mother wasn't trying nor wanted to get pregnant but she did and it was fine. This may not be true for your Aunt but it's a true story.

    It is harder this time around both my parents have told me. They have given up easy years to focus on him. But all parents give things up it just depends on what.

    My Moms sister my Aunt had fertility problems and her daughter was born when she was 38. Her child was 100% healthy and was in the top 10% of her high school. 

    Has she had any test done?  

  • Is she healthy? Does her family/spouse have histories of congenital issues/genetic diseases? Since she is probably very little along, it's probably impossible to tell the health of the baby itself. 

    Keep in mind that there are some babies born for whom every moment is pain, every breath is a struggle, and they can die without knowing joy, or the pain in their life far outweighs what little good there would be in it. This is a HORRIBLE thing to say, but it's true. 

    I find that this is a hard concept for the healthy to grasp. However, as someone who suffers from chronic pain, I would not wish the above fate on my worst enemy. Being in pain all the time takes a toll on the psyche, and blocks out positive emotions. And I am in dull pain, not the kind of pain those babies are in...

    I wish that this never happened, and that everyone could enjoy this gift of life after being born.

    Please remember this if she chooses to terminate later due to health problems. I also imagine that terminating later would be hard on her-coming to terms with the fact that that could happen to your baby is, well, beyond my imagination to grapple with. 

    Another possibility is her health problems. I do not wish to start an abortion debate, but she has a right to put her health before that of one who does not exist first(and is right now a part of her body).

    I just mention these things to remind you to be supportive of her decision. Either way, she will need you.

  • If she's been TTC, always wanted a child AND is healthy I don't see why she should consider terminating the pregnancy! Obviously I don't know what kind of 43 year old your aunt is but I can tell you that all the 40+ women I know are just like the 30+ women I know, healthy, active, energetic, perfectly capable etc. I honestly don't know what the big deal is with being pregnant at that age, being in one's early 40s is not like being 70! And heck my mom who is in her late 60s is basically unstoppable.

    You said she's healthy, I don't see a problem here. Point her towards the Pregnant over 35 board on the Bump, or better yet, hop over there yourself to get some feedback. There are lots of 40+ expecting bumpies who will be more helpful than us here. 


  • Just wanted to add that the age factor ALONE shouldn't be grounds for terminating an otherwise seemingly normal pregnancy, at least this is my humble opinion. It won't hurt to get at least a second opinion before making a decision. GL to her.

  • Try to leave your own views on abortion out of your discussions with your aunt. I'm only 32 but my views on the subject are vastly different than they were at 24, and probably at 43.

    Try not to be dismissive of her fears that she is sharing with you - they may seem silly to you but to her they are genuine and very real. Her health - you feel that she is healthy now, but she is concerned with how her body is going to cope. That is a legitimate fear. At 24 your body adjusts and bounces back. You've got the energy of youth - her, not so much anymore. You may also not know if she has any other health concerns that she has not shared with you. Pregnancy complications to a 24 year old can have very different effects on a 43 year old - these are not concerns that you should just be dismissing with her - you are right though, that she might speak to her fertility doctor about this, as that doctor may have more experience with pregnancy in older women.

    That the baby may be disabled - again, this is a very real, legitimate fear of hers that it seems you are being dismissive of. That stats are there - later aged pregnancy carries a higher risk. Does that mean that the risk isn't worth it? Not necessarily, but there are tests during pregnancy that can determine some of the levels of risk - that could be an option for her.

    Parenting at her age - yes, she wanted a baby forever, but if she is telling you now that she is concerned about them being retired with a teenager - this is a very real concern for her. Would you want to be the oldest mum at pre-natal yoga - by 15 years? Would you want to be the oldest one at playgroup, and for nearly all of your child's life be confused for "grandma"? You may think that is a petty concern compared to "the joy of having a child at all" - but for her to be bringing it up already it is clearly a real concern of hers - be careful not to dismiss this too.

    Lastly, it is clear that you love your aunt and uncle and I think it is wonderful that you are someone that she has gone to for support - but their marriage is their business and you need to step away. Just be her sounding board when she reaches out for it, and really listen to her concerns. She's not asking you to fix it or tell her what to do - just talk it through with her.

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  • I'm 29 and just got married a few months ago. We aren't really going to TTC for another two years. Waiting too long terrifies me because of the research people have shown me, so I can understand why your Aunt might be nervous. So many people have given me these "once you hit 35 everything is HORRIBLE" articles, but there are so many people who have babies later in life that are just fine (as PP have shown!)

     I can't imagine having to go through something like that, but definitely second opinions, someone who knows and understands the whole fertility story, there are plenty of tests. And most of all, a family who will support her decision no matter what. It's unfortunate that she and her husband aren't really on the same page. That's got to be killing her, too. If you live close, maybe go out for a no-baby-talk lunch to help get her mind off things? 

  • image BulgariHeart:
    Just wanted to add that the age factor ALONE shouldn't be grounds for terminating an otherwise seemingly normal pregnancy, at least this is my humble opinion. It won't hurt to get at least a second opinion before making a decision. GL to her.
    If this is the only factor that the doctor is going off of, then I would strongly encourage her to get a second opinion. 

    I was 38 (a month shy of 39) when I had DS.  I am presently 43.  While we are one and done, if I did get PG, I wouldn't think twice about keeping it.  I have a few friends who were right around 40, and actually one who was 43, when they had their first child.

    All these babies are healthy, the pregnancies were totally normal.  

    All that being said, she may have closed the door a long time ago on the thought of being a mom and she just can't wrap her mind around it, now, when she's made a life for herself that doesn't involve kids.  I actually have a neighbor who just found out she's PG.  She has 2 kids- but her youngest is 10.  My neighbor will be 40 this year.  She is VERY unhappy.   This isn't planned and she had her kids a long time ago specifically because she DIDN'T want to be this old having a baby.   This isn't what she planned for her life. 

    So - even as much as your aunt wanted kids at one point, I can also understand why she's  just so far past that point that she just can't be happy.

    I wish her luck, though, as seh figures this out.  

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  • I also know of a "late comer" who entered the world when her parents were 44. She has a brother who is 20 years older than she is.

    It worked out for her. Her parents lived to be in their 90s.

    YOu can offer her a willing ear and somebody to talk to; whether to continue on with the pregnancy or to terminate it is a very personal decision. Support her in whichever they wish to do. GL.
  • Ultimately, it's your aunt's decision what to do, but I would definitely recommend she get a second opinion because as others have said, there are plenty of women out there who have children in their 40s that are perfectly healthy and normal. There's all kinds of tests you can do now to determine if the baby is healthy - that's what's so great about the medical advances we have in this area.

    She may have just mentally closed the door on the possibility of having a child....I'd say give her a few days to process it and be there to support her with whatever she chooses.  

  • Thank you everybody for your feedback. I really appreciate it. I will try to clear up what I can. 

    My aunt has not done any testing yet, because she just recently found out about the pregnancy. Her and her husband have a clear history in terms of illness. As far as anyone knows there was no known reason why they couldn't conceive in the first place. And, while I don't know what her fertility doctor told her in the past, I assume that whatever it was wasn't bad enough to prevent her for trying all those years she did try. Both Becca and her husband are healthy and active themselves. They exercise, they eat right, and they do what any person should do for themselves. As far as how long she is, she isn't showing in the slightest, so I wouldn't think she is far along at all. Within her second month?

    I agree with Manther that sometimes it's better to let a sick child never know a painful horrible life, but she doesn't know if there is anything wrong with the baby yet. And it sounds like Down Syndrome is the disease that she keeps thinking of, in which the child would be very happy so long as it is taken care of. But I get how that could be daunting when you're 43, especially since a real independence may never be learned. Another fear is she doesn't want to get her hopes up and lose this child through a miscarriage. She also fears that if anything goes south with this pregnancy she is at a higher risk of dying herself. And I know this is all legit, but I feel it's all paranoia and premature if she doesn't go to see a doctor who knows her and her history well. If Dr. Fertility tells her that she these are concerns that she needs to worry about then it would make more sense to other people, I guess. 

    It seems my uncle's mother was born when her parents were 42, so she doesn't get why it's that big of a deal at all. I think that is part of why my uncle is upset to. But if she does keep the baby, or expresses an unsurness again, I will direct her towards over 35+ on the Bump as Bulgari suggested.

     This doctor that she did see was a new doctor she had never seen before, and really only suggested that she terminate because she was 43 and there were chances of complication. I think that is what has me upset the most. She planted this idea in Becca's head that she wasn't fit to mother because of just her age. Complications can happen to anyone, and they have. And I do understand that they will be harder on her, as Tofumonkey stated, but I am not sure she'd even think of abortion if that doctor hadn't of just assumed she'd get one. I still think she'd be scared, as she told me she was petrified when she first suspected due to the HPT, but I think she'd be more in a place to really reflect on both sides.

    I want to explain that I have yet to say anything to Becca about my thoughts on her terminating, though she very well knows my views on abortion due to my past. She seems hurt by me in that when she told me she was pregnant I looked excited for her and when she told me that she didn't want it and was looking into termination then I looked disappointed. However, I think it's just that I was the first person she told who did this reaction, and afterwards it seems everyone has done it. Me and my mother are the only ones who know right now on our side of the family, though uncle's family has more people who know. I worry, however, that while my uncle was just trying to get some support for himself, that he may have made her feel trapped because if she does terminate people may blame her?

    I am not trying to get into her marriage either, as I would respect my family not getting into mine, but I don't want to see her get crushed over this. Becca and Bill are extremely close, and they have been through so much. As long as I can remember they have complimented each other so well and I feel that this event it likely to cause great problems. I didn't say anything, but especially since he told his family that Becca is aborting their baby, I feel that there may be blame pinned on her if she does go though with it and it will be devastating for her.  I wouldn't say anything to her or Bill though, unless it gets really bad and HE starts guilting her intentionly. 

    I may try what you suggested, Djinxs, but she seems so preoccupied with this that I doubt it will do much good. But like I said, only me and my mother know so we can get a family lunch and maybe people being their who have no idea could help her escape for a bit. But I agree too, that those "over 35 and your body falls apart" articles are extremely scary. They have me scared and I am 11 years away! I just wish there was more to offer that explained that a risk is just that, a risk, and that age may increase chances, but may also not. If Becca terminates over what MAY happen she probably will be stuck in "Well, what if it wasn't going to happen?" and those events that other people's children are going though may slap her harder now. (I am not speculating, this fits her personality very well). 

    In regards to all the advice I will bring up the success stories, but also tell her that there are plenty of people who will understand if she decides that she cannot carry this baby, myself included. I appreciate the insight a lot, ladies. 

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  • Thanks for the update! If she truly wants the baby, I hope that she doesn't terminate over fear. It does sound like the doctor was unhelpful. I hope that she can figure out what she wants and wish both of you luck.
  • I'm sorry her Doctor said that but it's not surprising. I even mentioned my own mother being shocked at how many people assumed she would abort. Then you hear nothing but the worst possible stories from everyone. 

    The truth is it's a risk for every pregnancy, no one is guaranteed a perfect baby and easy pregnancy. The choice is hers and no matter which path she takes it will be the right one for her.

    The best advice you maybe able to give her is to find a new doctor, one who specialize in high risk pregnancy so she can get compassion and facts.  

  • Yea, I think it was really irresponsible and insensitive for the doctor to just say right off the bat that she should terminate the pregnancy. She should have talked to her about the risks, but then also mention about testing that can be done to determine whether or not the baby is healthy etc etc....OP, your aunt needs to find a new doctor.

    Anyway hope everything works out....

  • FWIW my mom got pregnant with my sister at 42. I believe she was a planned pregnancy though, my mom's 6th child.

    She is perfectly healthy now at 11. My mom does say that she is way more tired with Anna than she was with the rest of us though. She gets away with way more than I ever did, but some of that might be the difference between oldest and youngest too.

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  • I too was going to suggest she get a second opinion. 

    FWIW, my mom had my littlest brother when she was a few months shy of 40.  Her pregnancy was very normal and she had him at home like all her other prengnancies.  He too is very healthy, an honors student and a student athlete.  My mom has said several times that she feels like he has kept her young.  Other women her age were talking about their kids graduating and here she was talking about Blue's Clues. 

  • I don't know you, I don't know your aunt, but personally, I'd like to report that doctor to the AMA. Seriously having an opinion on what she should do?

    Here's what I do know: When I was growing up, there was a very religious Catholic couple next door. This was the 1960's so I KNOW they weren't using birth control. They never had kids, and then when the wife was 40 she got pregnant for the first time, had a healthy baby, and got pregnant with, and gave birth to, TWO MORE healthy children afterward! Yes, she had 3 normal children after the age of 40, before pre-natal vitamins, and all the healthy info that women have today.

    I got pregnant with my first child at 31, and my second at 39. Never thought about having an abortion, and to be honest, I think women can choose. But, I grew up always wanting to be a mom. Both my children were conceived in spite of using birth control, so this was meant to be. They are both healthy, I am now going to be 58 next month with an 18 year old daughter who is a freshman in college. When she was growing up I was always the oldest parent in the room at school functions. Hell, I was the oldest parent at my son's school functions, carting around a baby-carrier with her in it!

    I never felt healthier than I did with my pregnancies. Both of them. Yes, I had swelling in my feet being pregnant at 39. But, in spite of having a c-section with my son, I had a V-BAC with my daughter, and 12 hrs of labor later gave birth to one of the loves of my life. She is a joy to parent, was MOH at my wedding in August, 2011, and just a damned fine, loving human being. Made the honor roll in school, graduated from HS *** Laude, is on the Dean's List in college.

    It sounds like your aunt is scared, because she had a medical professional tell her all the bad things. There are wonderful stories out there about healthy babies born to more "mature" parents. Yes, it changes your life forever. But it does it whether you are 16, 25, 30 or 43 when you give birth. She needs to change doctors, find a supportive one in her area. She is a high risk first time parent, but no more so than any of the teens on "Teen Mom" who are NOT ready to give a child what it needs most, a loving, secure, mature mother who knows how precious life is. Okay, I'll step off my soapbox.

    I had a wonderful life before I had my children late in life. I had found & lost love, had wonderful jobs, a loving family. But, it's been such a better life since then, and I would never have allowed someone to tell me I couldn't do this.

    If your aunt decides, after she has listened to her heart,  weighed the consequences of this dramatic shift in her life that she chooses not to proceed with her pregnancy, please be supportive of her decision and understand that everyone doesn't decide the same way we might. She will need all the support she can get.

    Good luck to you all, and I wish you and her the best.

  • Yeah, no kidding. I kept thinking about this thread yesterday and you know what, forget the second opinion, she should fire that douchebag point blank. He had no business whatsoever telling a healthy 43 year old pregnant woman that she should abort because of her age. Is he NUTS???? I'm seriously side-eying that. 

  • A closer friend of the family had her first child at 43, her husband is mid 50's. It was a high risk pregnancy but they didn't know she was pregnant until she was almost 5 months. Everything turned out fine.
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  • My MIL was 42 when she had my H.  They did all of the available testing during the pregnancy, she had a healthy l&d and DH is a very good looking, genius engineer. This was in the early 80's. 

    IMO the main issue rests in how your aunt will feel about testing and what she would be comfortable/not comfortable doing (later abortion) if she does find out there is an issue with the pregnancy. 

  • I could see why someone would be eager to have a baby at 30, but not at 43.  It's a tough call; I don't envy her.
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  • As everyone has stated, it's ultimately her choice, but some things to consider:

    After 40, for your FIRST child, there is an even higher risk of genetic disorder, the most common being down syndrome- which is not a "painful" disorder, but it is one which may lead the child to never be full independent and that is difficult for any parent, and could lead to more concern with aging parents.

    I had a teacher in high school have her first child at 45 years old, who was born with down syndrome. As well, my mom's best friend had her FIRST child at 43, her second at 46, and both are 100% healthy, no complications whatsoever. My stepson's maternal grandmother just had her 3rd child at 47. He was premature by 6 weeks and spent a week in the NICU, but is otherwise healthy. I also know multiple parents who have had a child in their 20's and 30's that were born with genetic disorders.

     

    On the positive side, generally people are more financially stable by their 40's, they have more patience and a better grasp of "life values" to teach a child, and can see the bigger picture. They have finished their partying days and are ready to give back to the next generation, so this can also be a great time to start a family!

     

    I would suggest that she sit down with her husband, discuss the tests that can be done, and decide that, if a test comes back without the best news, at what point would it be bad enough to abort. Once they make that decision, then go forward with testing. They need to be on the same page, it's her body, but it's his child too. I hope they can come to a conclusion that everyone is ok with, best of luck to them both!

  • Hmm, this seems like a tough situation for your aunt. On one hand, this potential baby represents a lot of fear of the unknown, especially about his or her future with aging parents and a higher risk of congenital birth defects. On the other hand, if she genuinely does not feel that this baby is right for her, and she is pressured by her husband to have the child, then it will have an affect on the marriage. These are the worst case scenarios on either side of the issue, and for your aunt it probably feels like a lose-lose situation. Most likely, she will decide and hopefully come to terms with what she decides somewhere in the middle.

    As a woman in her forties that spent years trying to unsuccessfully to conceive, she likely got used to that reality and coped with it. The reason this may be alarming for her now, is that she suddenly has to create and entertain new images and ideas of what her life will be. This may be especially troubling for your aunt since the 40's are the "powerhouse" years where one feels mastery over their careers and over their lives. 

    The only thing you can do at this point is support and encourage your aunt, no matter what her decision. Also, validation will be key for her. Her shutting you out seems like it doesn't have much to do with you particularly, but that she is probably afraid that she will be judged, no matter what decision she makes. Unfortunately, this is true. Perhaps her doctor will judge her if she continues the pregnancy, but her husband in-laws and whoever else will judge her if she terminates. Like I mentioned earlier, your aunt's stress may come from this lose-lose situation. 

    There is always genetic testing if she decides to carry the child to term, and that could ease her anxieties slightly. Maybe highlighting the strengths of being a first time mom during 40's could make her decision seem less bleak. While there is an increased risk of birth defects, (I'm assuming) your aunt has the financial resources that perhaps a young twenty something new parent may not. She also knows who she is and has been married for quite a long time so a child is less likely to rock the foundation of a marriage like it potentially could with a newlywed couple or a couple early in their relationship. 
  • Wow, what a tough call for your aunt.  I don't envy her.  I'm 45 and the thought of getting pregnant now isn't something I think I'd particularly enjoy (we're childless by choice) so I can empathize.

    There are a lot of OBGYNs out there that specialize in high-risk pregnancies.  By virtue of her age, she falls into that category, even if there is no other reason (and I hope there isn't).  They can run all the tests, prescribe any relevant meds, suggest any lifestyle and behavior changes she might need to make.  I'd recommend she look into finding someone like that.  The "regular" OBGYNs out there are used to the "regular" pregnancies - the 20-30 year olds (and every pregnancy is special, I'm not saying it's not, but once you pass that 40 year mark, I think we can all agree it's not the same).

    I think there is one benefit that an older parent can offer a child that a younger one can't - the years of experience and knowledge.  I've seen younger parents, some of whom are just a step or two past childhood themselves, try to raise children, and have a real hard time with it.  And although the energy level isn't what it used to be, the insight and personal awareness, I believe, grows with time.  And that's useful stuff for a parent.  Good luck to your aunt.  I hope it all works out well for her.

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