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My Unsolicited Advice to Younger Women Postponing Motherhood

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

After three years, multiple IVF cycles, two devastating miscarriages, and countless setbacks … Aela’s road to motherhood has been anything but easy. Follow her story on Babble and don’t miss the latest chapter in her journey below.

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No, you didn’t ask me for advice on family planning. But, I’ve got some things to tell you nonetheless.

This may sound crass, but I promise I mean well. You might toss this all aside and look at me as some pathetic 37-year-old wishing she had done things differently, and you’d partly be right.

I’m not here to tell you to get knocked up ASAP or to not postpone motherhood. I believe there are many valuable reasons to wait. I think the majority of women out there will tell you to wait. Focus on your career first. Finish college. Wait for the right partner or until you are in a position, yourself, to support a child. And those are all well and good reasons to wait.

But postponing motherhood comes with its own set of risks that not enough women talk about.

Did you know that you are considered of “advanced maternal age” when you hit 35? That basically means, in so many words, that you’re a dinosaur. Sure, you’ll likely (and hopefully) still feel and look great at 35, but this label will be yours regardless, and it will come as an outright shock to you. And trust me, as far away as 35 feels now, it’s really just around the corner.

Your now fresh and young ovaries slowly begin to release lower-quality eggs each year that you wait, and your “reserve” continues to diminish over time. We’re talking cobwebby ovaries and eggs — at 35, ladies. Trust me: 35 is not old. But the eggs of a 35-year-old are.

“Postponing motherhood comes with its own set of risks that not enough women talk about.”
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That’s not to say you won’t have luck getting pregnant in your 30s. Plenty of women do! But I’m here to ask you: Do you really want to rely on luck to get pregnant? Because contrary to what the media shows of women in their late 30’s and early 40’s becoming mothers, there is a whole lot of science and LUCK behind many of these pregnancies. And since so few women publicly share their fertility struggles, the narrative isn’t balanced, and younger women are led to believe that having babies later in life is no big deal.

But it is.

We talk about women “having it all,” and I think you can postpone motherhood until after your career is established or you finish school or you’re financially ready. But I want that to be easier for you. I don’t want you to decide to have kids at 33 and then waste the next five years — or more — trying to get pregnant and/or suffering miscarriage after miscarriage (did I forget to mention advanced maternal age also ups your chances of losing a pregnancy?).

I want you to do a fairly simple thing now.

I want you to freeze your young eggs.

Fairly simple? Freeze eggs? Doesn’t that involve injections and egg retrieval procedures? Yes, it does. And I’m here to tell you that the doctor appointments, monitoring ultrasounds, blood work, hormone injections, retrieval procedure, and recovery are all easier than the alternative. Watching time tick further on when you’re 35, and struggling year after year to get pregnant, and shedding tears over your fourth miscarriage, is worse.

All of that great self-esteem you garnered in your 20’s, while you finished school and settled successfully into a great career? Say goodbye to it. Each pregnancy test you pee on that reads negative will suck your self worth, bit by bit, until you barely recognize the strong and confident woman you once were. Each pregnancy that you lose will take such a big part of your heart with it, that you’ll begin to feel numb to what beauty is left in your life.

Freeze your eggs.

Even if you’re not sure you want kids in the future. Just freeze them. They’ll be there, forever young, whether you use them or not. And if you don’t use them, they’re just eggs, anyway. Toss ’em. Your body would have anyway!

I’ve spoken to some younger women about egg freezing, and they all look at me like I’ve got five crazy heads. But when I speak to other women in their mid-late 30’s, they nod in “preach it, sister!” unison — because they, too, know.

Look, you might never have an issue conceiving in your 30’s, but just know that you very well might have an issue. In fact, it’s more likely that you will. Don’t assume your body will be ready for motherhood just because your career/degree/bank account is.

Get those young eggs on ice. ASAP.

You’ll thank me in 10 years.

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