Updated: May 17, 2021
“Congratulations, you are #pregnant!” Not exactly the words you expect to hear when you are 46. I just thought I would be hearing confirmation of what I had already suspected, symptoms of #PERIMENOPAUSE. Because the three positive home pregnancy tests were just not enough. I attributed the positive results to elevated #hCG levels related to perimenopause. Nope, it was a little #embryo growing inside of me. I really did not know how to feel. I was actually in a state of shock. The doctor asked if my pregnancy was planned and I responded “not really”. Although it was planned years before, I had come to the conclusion that adoption just might be the route we would need to take to have a baby. Regardless of the many prayers to God that were petitioned by me and on my behalf by family and friends, I just did not believe that I would be blessed with birthing a baby.
So, not only was I pregnant at 46, but I was pregnant at 46 in Seoul, Korea. This definitely was not in my plan, but God’s plan nonetheless. As I sat in front of my newly assigned OB/GYN, Professor X (not her real name), at a Korean hospital, with my mind racing, she told me that I had to come back next week to ensure the pregnancy was viable. That just added a layer of anxiety because I was 46! Can I have a #viablepregnancy at this age? Yes, that was a very ignorant question. Many women have had babies at 46, right? Well, an article in the National Vital Statistics Reports, indicated that there were “11 live births per 1,000 women aged 40 to 44 in 2015, and 0.8 live births per 1,000 women aged 45 to 49”, in the US. Well, this gave me some hope. I knew that my chances of becoming pregnant had considerably declined due to my age, but I had not thought about how many babies were being born to women in their 40s until now.
My follow-up examination with Professor X was one week later on May 17, 2018. The sonographer conducted the second of many transvaginal examinations that I would have throughout my pregnancy (Is this normal?). Professor X read the results and informed me that I had a viable pregnancy. This was the moment when I think I insulted her. I asked “should I see a doctor who specializes in #highriskpregnancies, since I am 46?”. She stoically responded, “I would consider myself a high-risk professor”. Well, there you go!
Anyway, my pregnancy was mostly typical, not without morning sickness and medication to help me keep my food down during the first and early second trimesters. There were also more anxiety driven moments, like being tested for #gestationaldiabetes and having #genetictesting done. After all, an article published on Pubmed Central (PMC) found that “pregnancy-induced diseases such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and pregnancy-associated hypertension occurred more often in women ≥ 40 years of age”. United Reproductive Associates also found that “at age 35, the risk of having a baby with #chromosomalabnormalities is 1/192, but by age 40, the risk climbs to 1/66 (almost 2%)”. Thankfully the test results were fine and the remainder of my pregnancy was uneventful.
My day of delivery finally came. I checked into The Catholic University of Korea Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital the night before my scheduled #cesarean section. The nursing staff had me prepped and all ready to go for my morning delivery. I slept ok, but woke up very nervous. Nervous about the fact that I was going to have an epidural. What if I moved while it was being done? Suppose it didn’t work. What if it worked too much? What lasting symptoms would I have? All thoughts running through my mind. Secondly, that catheter. Am I going to feel it being placed or removed? Is it going to hurt? I don’t know, it’s a catheter for goodness sakes. I was also thinking about the actual c-section. How much of it am I going to feel? What kind of scar am I going to have? How am I going to heal? What if something goes wrong? Maybe they should put me to sleep. My final thoughts were about my baby. Is he going to be ok? What is his name? When will I get to hold him? Am I going to feel excited or overwhelmed? Will I have #postpartum? Am I going to be a good mother? I had a million questions running through my head. Thankfully the surgery went very well and my little blessing came into this world on December 28th at 8:20 am, 6 lbs. 9 oz. and 20 inches, not without complications.