The other day, I saw a new patient in my office. She was 39 years old, healthy, a successful career woman, pregnant for the first time — and scared to death. After trying for two years to conceive, she had finally done it. But instead of being thrilled, she was worried about the potential complications that come with being pregnant as an older first-time mom. After I answered all of her questions, the tension in the room dissipated, and she began to smile.
In this moving essay, Shannon M. Clark, M.D., explains why she decided egg donation was right for her—and why other women in her shoes shouldn’t feel ashamed.
Finally, positive attention is being paid to the aging woman. Women in their 40s look better, feel better, have successful careers and seem to be able to do it all. In fact, it has been suggested that life for a woman really begins at age 40. For once, the “mature” woman is being celebrated rather than lamented. 40 is the new 30!
I knew from a very early age that I wanted to go to college and have a career. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college, though, that I made the decision to pursue medicine — a career path that would ultimately take 15 years of my life to accomplish.
After training for 15 years to become a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, I found myself 34 with no prospects for a long-term relationship and one year away from being the dreaded “advanced maternal age” — that age for a woman when her risk of having a baby with genetic abnormalities (i.e. Down syndrome) starts to increase. As a high-risk obstetrician, I should have realized the significance of that milestone in my life, but I didn’t.