Fertility · Single Mom

Elderly Primigravida: Not for Virgin Marathon Runners

Massimo doesn’t know this but, when he was in his Mommy’s belly–I called him Baby Sue.  Two procedures, almost daily doctor visits, daily shots, blood tests every other day, and finally my little nugget was conceived.

Eight weeks later–I was back in the doctor’s office.  This time it was the normal OB/GYN.  I was pretty excited–but I had enough of doctors.  At that point, I would have been just fine if I’d never seen another doctor in my life.  Don’t get me wrong–I was incredibly grateful for the skills that they had used to create the life that was growing inside of me but I would have preferred to be grateful from afar.

I had a vision of a beautiful natural child-birth.  With candles and a bathtub.  There would have been music–maybe even chanting.  It would be painful but worth it.

I even picked the doctor’s office that was affiliated with the one and only midwifery center in my area.  The office had the highest natural childbirth rate in my state and the doctor I picked ran the midwifery center.

After my eight week exam, the doctor invited me into his office–where he discussed his vision of my child-birth.  We were not on the same page.  I’m not even sure we were reading the same book.

I explained to him that I was interested in learning more about the midwifery center and wanted to “register” to have my birth there.  The doctor, who appeared to be 78, scoffed!

“You wouldn’t run a marathon for the first time at 37, you can’t have natural childbirth for the first time at 37.  You will RUIN OUR NUMBERS!!!!!!!”

I envisioned the following response: “I burst out in tears, lunged across the desk, grabbed his lab coat and shouted at him.  Don’t you understand!  I’ve had enough of your type!  I just want to have this baby and be left alone!  And you, you crotchety old man!  Its 2014.  Not 1914.  Put me on the list for the midwifery center and I’ll show you a marathon!”

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didn’t do any of that.  I did nearly burst out in tears but I got up and left.

I was scared.  Pregnancy is scary.  Exciting but scary.  I think the medical field does a good job of making it even more scary.

Three years later and I’m STILL scared. Does that ever go away?  I have my doubts.

After the doctor’s appointment, I went home dejected but did NOT give up the hope of having a natural childbirth.

I soon received an email from my doctor with the notes from that day’s appointment.

It contained the following diagnosis: Elderly Primigravida.







Fertility · Wellness

The Stars Aligned

Tonight my mom picked Massimo up from daycare.  While she was there, she had a more personal conversation with one of his teachers than I had before.  To be fair, I don’t often see this particular teacher because she leaves before I get off work. Massimo loves this teacher very much.

According to my mom, the teacher had a long struggle with miscarriages–she had three.  Then her catch of a husband left her after he had gotten another lady pregnant.

My mom had told her about my journey and how I got Massimo–so that she would not lose hope.

That got me to thinking.  I’ve been so consumed by other perceived injustices in my life, that I have kind of lost sight of what’s really important and how lucky I really am.

One time in my life, the stars literally all aligned perfectly.  I went through a full IVF cycle.  Just one.  One viable embryo was fertilized.  Just one.  The first time.  It’s a good thing too because I would not have put myself through that again.  And after all of that, I had a healthy baby boy.

The month or two leading up to the procedure involved reducing my estrogen to basically nothing and then increasing it substantially.  The reduction allowed the docs to start from scratch.  And then they pumped me full of estrogen to stimulate as many follicles as possible.

On a daily basis, I had to give myself shots.  Every day or two, I had the opportunity to visit the doc for a blood test and ultrasound.

The follicles that were stimulated produced eggs that were then harvested in one procedure.  After that, the eggs were fertilized individually.  Then the best two seven- (or was it five?) day embryos were to be implanted.   After the requisite number of days, only one embryo remained–and I was told that it was a beautiful embryo  (its hard to know what to compare it to–particularly when you are heavily medicated).

I think that’s pretty lucky.  I was lucky for two reasons:  (1) there was one good embryo, and (2) there was only one good embryo (not two).  It was an amazing celestial alignment that there were not more embryos because the standard of care for the IVF study was to implant two embryos.   I was so so so scared I was going to get pregnant with twins.  I was scared anyway but the whole idea of bringing two humans into this world at one time was more than I could imagine.

Even more amazing, is that the implantation of the one good embryo was successful and that I had a healthy baby boy nine months later.

The emotional ups and downs and the amount of mental energy that entire process took was crazy.  Kudos to the women who have been through the process multiple times–sometimes with multiple disappointments.   The amount of emotional and mental resolve that must take is much more than I can imagine.








Big Bellies

About five years ago, I began to realize that I needed more in my life.  At the time, I was in the middle of a 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Sure, I enjoyed the ability to do whatever I wanted.  I was quite focused on myself.  I had an active social life.  But I needed more.

I saw my friends and family with children.  I needed that.  There was one little problem.  My life did not support that need.

I meditated a LOT and practiced a LOT of yoga, even more than ever because I was in training. In other words, when I say that I needed to have children–I can tell you that my heart and I had long conversations about it—and a heart knows what it needs.

Around the same time, I had an appointment with my doctor.  I was concerned that I’d never tried to have children (in fact–I’d tried real hard not to) and that my ability to have children would be compromised by my age.  I was also concerned that, because I was single, I would not be able to adopt–should I be unable to have children of my own.

My doctor was supportive and suggested that I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (a fertility doc).  She thought that a specialist might have a test to determine if I had anything to worry about regarding my reproductive potential.

I immediately made an appointment with the recommended specialist.  The specialist did, in fact, have such a test.  The test is called the Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH).

It is a simple blood test that determines something called “ovarian reserve.”  Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs.  Both the quality and the quantity of those eggs decrease with age.  The Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles).   “Ovarian reserve” then is the estimated number of follicles that you have left. . . . or something like that.

At my appointment with the specialist, she took a sample of my blood and a lab performed that test.  That part was easy enough.  About a week later, I received a phone call from the specialist’s receptionist advising me of the results of the test.

According to the receptionist, the test revealed that I had a diminished ovarian reserve.  My reserve was so low, in fact, that I should anticipate menopause within the next five years.

My entire heart sank.  How was that possible?  I was nowhere near the age where I should be worried about menopause.  I had squandered my youth.  I had abused my fertility potential.  I was never going to have children.  I cried.  A lot.  Never mind the fact that I was receiving this information on the phone from a receptionist who could not answer any of the questions that I had.  I hung up the phone.  My heart was broken.

No kidding–after that phone call–EVERY single woman I saw was pregnant.  Or so it seemed.  They all had these big beautiful bellies.  Bellies that I knew then I’d never experience.  Bellies that I’d never known that I wanted until I found out I could never have one.

Just this week, I read an article published by VOX.  It reported a study that was first published in JAMA.  According to that study, diminished ovarian reserve (as determined by the AMH test) is not associated with infertility among women attempting to conceive naturally.  According to JAMA, women should be cautioned against using AMH levels to assess their current fertility.  Imagine that.  On the other hand, it is a good indicator of the number of eggs that can be retrieved either for the purpose of freezing or in-vitro fertilization.

Regardless of the new study, I am glad I took the test.




#AMH #anti-mullerian #ovarianreserve