Below are real life stories submitted by people around the world for our recently published Signature Article: Evidence on Advanced Maternal Age


Anita’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal Age

My husband had a vasectomy reversal in 2009, 8 years after the vasectomy. I miscarried in 2012 at 45yo, then got pregnant again in 2014 at 48yo. Both natural conceptions with no assistance. I was planning a Homebirth but my daughter was footling breech with cord entanglement. I scheduled a cesarean, but went into labor at 37 weeks. My labor was progressing VERY fast and I was pushing when they were just getting the epidural in. They performed the surgery and I had a healthy 8.

 

 

 


Hollie’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeMy story isn’t a short one. But it eventful. And even sometimes comical.
My husband and I always wanted more children. But that didn’t seem to be God’s plan for us. So we settled into a very content little family of three. However, we were still often asked why we didn’t have more. We started answering with, “oh, we’re just waiting till we’re 40 to have the twins”.

Fast forward to June of 2014, our one and only is a recent high school graduate and we are just eleven days away from his open house. It is busy and stressful. And I’m exhausted. I took a pregnancy test simply “to rule that out”. Ha! Imagine when not just one, but three came back positive.

I went for my first appointment in July. I was 39 turning 40 in December. And this little bundle was due February 4. An ultrasound confirmed, yes, it was a baby. No, it was not twins.

September rolled around and we had everyone’s favorite ultrasound that revealed we were having a girl! It also revealed what looked to be Placenta Previa. My doc scheduled another ultrasound two weeks later with a specialist.

My first of three ultrasounds with the specialist shook my world a bit. I was quite familiar with Placenta Previa and have known several women who have had little to no complications with it. However, when she diagnosed me with Vasa Previa I was a tad more concerned. She explained that the blood vessels that feed the placenta and umbilical cord are essentially left “dangling” right over the cervix. To complicate things even more, the umbilical cord had attached on the edge of my placenta, not towards the middle like is typical. (There’s a name for this and I’m sure the medical explanation is way more detailed)
So, what does all of that mean? It means that with any contractions or if my water were to break or the baby were to get to large there was a huge risk of those vessels breaking. If they were to do so, we would have about three minutes to deliver before the baby would bleed to death.

They set a couple of goals. The first was to make it to 30 weeks, then 32, 34 and possibly 35. (That last one was a stretch)
At 29 weeks, 1 day I was admitted to the hospital. At 29 weeks, 3 days we almost met baby girl. Her heart rate would plummet below 80 and then skyrocket back up to 160.
Thankfully, things settled down.
We made it to 30 weeks, 3 days when our next problem arose. I had some bleeding. They quickly assessed that it was me and not the baby, but moved me to L/D so I could be monitored even more closely than in antepartum.
Week 31 was calm. At 32 weeks, 5 days I started having contractions. We were excited to meet her. And things seemed to us like all was perfect. My husband was there. My doctor was there. I was emotionally more ready than I had been. Much to our surprise, my doctor chose to stop my contractions.
For the next week, I struggled with that decision. Frankly, I was scared. In my mind it was better to deliver than to chance it any longer. But I also really trusted that my doctor knew what he was doing.
Tuesday, December 23 my doctor came in and set our delivery date for January 2. He said that would most likely change due to the holidays. About an hour later, he came in and set the new date for January 1.
At 10:25 I posted on Facebook “all these women coming in for c-sections and inductions. Don’t they know I was here first?” Just minutes after that, they began monitoring. I noticed that there was all sorts of activity on the monitor that morning. I was watching for the “hills” of contractions when my nurse came in and asked if I was “feeling” anything. I was not. She said I’ve been having contractions every six minutes. Again, I was surprised because I wasn’t feeling a thing.
I called my husband at work and let him know I was having contractions. He asked if he should head up (he works in Troy, I was at Hurley in Flint). I said no. I figured they would try to stop them again. No longer had I said that when my doctor walked in and announced we were having a baby NOW. EEEKKK!!! I quickly called my husband back. He headed up, but there was no way he would make it in time for the actual delivery. (It’s a 40 minute trek). But I told him not to worry because we would both be there when he arrived.
At 11:38 am we welcomed a beautiful, 4lb, 1oz little girl to the world via c-section. She was small, but fierce. (And she still is).


Alexandra’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeSince I went into labor with my first baby at 37.5 weeks, I wasn’t sure what to expect with my second. Both my husband and I had it in our heads that Easter weekend was going to be when this little guy decided to make his appearance… for no reason other than intuition. This time around I was 35 and my midwife made a point to remind me that my age didn’t mean I was automatically high risk; something I appreciated a lot. I was actually healthier with this pregnancy with my first. I really feel that eating better, exercising more, and taking probiotics helped me stave off some of the minor issues I had with my first pregnancy (multiple colds, stomach fly and a kidney infection).

37 and 38 weeks came and went and I found myself in uncharted territory. I was uncomfortable, none of my maternity clothes really fit anymore, my body ached and I was really getting tired. I finally understood what it meant to be “done” with pregnancy… a feeling I’d never experienced with my first. My loving husband bought me a gift certificate for a couple of prenatal massages and they really helped me get through those feelings at the end of my pregnancy. Seriously, all mamas should have at least one in the third trimester!

Saturday morning (38w, 5d, the day before Easter) I woke up to some contractions that were significantly different than any of the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been having. They were incredibly low in my abdomen and in my lower back. They were uncomfortable, and only occasionally painful. I knew this could be it, but I just went about my morning as chill as I could. My husband was at a sharpshooting match that morning and politely requested I hold off any labor until he got home. My son TJ, who’s 4.5, requested that I not have his little brother on Easter because he was going to be “busy looking for eggs” that day. I laughed at both of them.

These new contractions were about 20-30 seconds long and ranged from 5 to 15 minutes apart. By lunchtime they fizzled out and I was only having one every half an hour or so. I ate lunch, drank some water and I took a nap when TJ napped and I didn’t have any contractions then.

After our naps and after my husband came home, the contractions picked up again. I let him know what was happening, but that I really wasn’t sure if this was it. I took a long shower and drank more water. Before dinner, contractions were 5 to 7 minutes apart, but still only 30-40 seconds long, and the majority of them were very manageable. I sent text messages to my midwife and birth photographer to let them know what was going on. My husband got our truck packed and the infant car seat installed. He thought this was go-time, even though I wasn’t convinced.

After dinner, my mother-in-law put our 4.5 year old son to bed while my husband and I went for a walk around the block. The contractions had started to space out again and I hoped the walk would kick things into gear. We walked for about 25 minutes when I got tired and decided I was just going to go to bed. The walk didn’t work and contractions were now 20 to 30 minutes apart and getting weaker.

I was discouraged and sent text messages to my midwife and photographer telling them I was going to bed and that I’d let them know if anything changed.

We all went to bed and I fully expected to wake up in the morning to a new day, an Easter egg hunt with TJ, and maybe some more contractions. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

About two hours later (about 1:45 am) I woke up to go pee and had a super strong contraction while walking to the bathroom. While sitting on the toilet I continued to have contractions that were only a couple of minutes apart and lasting well over a minute. I had to focus and concentrate on my breathing through them all.

After a few of them, I felt a small pop and some fluid trickling. I immediately knew that my water had broken. It wasn’t a huge gush, but a trickle every time I had a contraction.

My husband came into the bathroom to check on me and I told him that we needed to call the midwife and get going right now. This was the real deal and I had no idea how quick this was going to be.

He went downstairs to wake up TJ and his mom and get them dressed and into the truck while I tried my damnedest to get my butt off the toilet. It took a lot of willpower to get up, get some clothes on and physically get myself into the truck with contractions only a couple of minutes apart. My husband followed me down the stairs with his hands on my lower back the whole way.

The 15 minute drive to the birth center sucked ass, but I was thankful to have a few minutes between contractions. I can tell you exactly which bumps in the road made me swear under my breath while my 4.5 year old was happily chatting behind me. He was so excited that this was happening in the middle of the night, something he’d requested.

During the drive, I was texting my birth photographer to let her know we were on our way and we debated having her meet us there or wait until I’d had a cervical exam to come. Waiting until my cervix was checked made the most sense to me, so I told her we’d text her after I was checked. Yeah, I regret that decision.

We pulled into the birth center just as my midwife and assistant arrived. She rushed upstairs to get things ready while I slowly got myself out of the truck. I had a contraction that almost brought me to my knees right there in the parking lot but my husband held on to me and kept me focused.

I got into the birthing room, stripped off my skirt and undies and worked my way onto the bed so my midwife could check my cervix. The second midwife arrived a minute later and I heard someone turn on the water to start filling up the tub. I had one powerful contraction while laying down before she could examine me, then she was super quick with her exam. I was 9cm!

As soon as that registered in my head I asked my husband to text the photographer. Before he could hit Send, the next contraction started and I quickly shouted for my husband and the birth assistant to help me up onto my hands and knees; I couldn’t handle another contraction while laying on the bed.

That contraction literally rocked me and my body was pushing. I shouted that I felt “pushy” and I put my hand between my legs in some sort of futile effort to stop the pushing. I felt my son’s head crown almost immediately and it took every ounce of strength I had to slow down that push so his head didn’t come out too fast. I was literally gasping for breath to gain a tiny bit of control over my body as both midwives and the assistant were looking for a mirror and a flashlight to see what was going on. I really, really didn’t want to tear! My husband had his arm around me and I buried my face into his shoulder, willing my body to slow down.

I was somehow able to ease my son’s head out slowly when the contraction finally ended and I had a moment of relief. I felt the next contraction begin and warned everyone that it was coming. His shoulders eased out and the rest of him followed. I picked him up and brought his slimy, squirmy body right to my chest and I’m pretty sure I looked up at everyone and said, “wow!”

With some help, I took off the tank top I had been wearing, rocked back onto the bed and snuggled with my brand new son. TJ came over to check out his baby brother and I asked him what he thought; he had watched the whole thing from across the room. He said it was pretty cool.

From the time we arrived at the birth center to the time M was born was approximately 15 minutes!

A couple of minutes later our photographer arrived. I felt SO bad that she missed his fast and furious birth. If only I had told her to just come when we first arrived!

We all snuggled together while she shot some photos, I delivered my placenta and my husband cut the umbilical cord. And happily, no tearing!

After about two hours, my midwife was getting a little concerned that my uterus was taking its sweet time to clamp down and she was keeping a close eye on my blood loss. She said my placenta had come out backward and she was concerned that a couple of pieces were still in my uterus… something that can happen when the placenta comes out that way. Some poking and prodding wasn’t helping so she started a saline IV and gave me a shot of Pitocin in the leg to see if that helped. It didn’t really, so I was given a dose of Misoprostol orally as well.

It had been about two and a half hours since my son had been born and my body was still bleeding steadily.

We had a decision to make. My midwife could try to manually extract clots or retained placenta from my uterus and see if that did the trick. It’s a very painful procedure, and she really didn’t think anyone should go through it without pain medication. I wasn’t hemorrhaging terribly, but it was getting to the point where we didn’t want this to turn into an emergency situation.

The other option would be to transfer to the local hospital via ambulance, have an ultrasound to see what was going on and go from there. The OB could do a manual extraction of any clots or retained placenta with pain meds for me. And if a D&C or a blood transfusion was needed, we’d already be there to get it going.

As much as it pained me to admit, transferring to the hospital was really the best option. M was quickly weighed and measured and a quick newborn exam was done while an ambulance was called for me and we got the process going. Since I wasn’t hemorrhaging profusely, lights and sirens weren’t needed, much to my older son’s chagrin.

In the ER I was given another bag of fluids along with some more Pitocin and the on-call OB came down to do an ultrasound. She saw that there were some big clots in the lower part of my uterus and she was confident that she could extract them manually. If the bleeding stopped then I’d be able to avoid a D&C and hopefully go home later that day.

And, thankfully, that’s exactly what happened.

We transferred to L&D, I was given a dose of Fentanyl and she manually extracted some clots from my uterus. It was not pleasant at all, but she worked very quickly and I was feeling a LOT better about 20 minutes later. I was very grateful that my body was handling the blood loss really well. I was very pale and a little shaky (also a side effect of the Misoprostol), but I never felt dizzy or lightheaded or had a drop in my blood pressure. I even got up to use the bathroom a few times and didn’t pass out. After all was said and done, I had lost over a liter of blood.

My blood loss was monitored for a few hours along with any signs of infection, and by 3pm that same day, I was discharged and heading home.

The folks at the hospital were really wonderful and every time a new resident, nurse or doctor introduced themselves, they apologized that I had to be there at all; understanding that the whole point of delivering at a birth center was to skip the hospital all together.

In hindsight, I will admit I felt like I was jipped from part of the peaceful birth experience I had hoped for because of the hospital transfer. My son’s birth was incredible and exhilarating and I am so grateful that we are both healthy. I know that I had no control over what happened afterward, and in reality, I had the best possible outcome after a severe postpartum bleed. And at no time did I wish I had just given birth in a hospital.

But a little part of me grieved for the moments I wanted to experience during that blissful postpartum period. I was hoping to take an herbal bath with both of my sons after M’s birth, something my older son was really looking forward to in the birth center’s big bathtub. Even though he totally understood why it didn’t happen, he was still sad, and it broke my heart a little bit when I had to explain to him why we couldn’t do that.

My amazing birth photographer Ginger, made some arrangements with my birth center and almost two weeks after my son’s birth, we finally got to take that postpartum herbal bath that I had hoped for (and take some photos!). We didn’t tell TJ about it until we actually got there since there was always the possibility that we couldn’t if a laboring mom needed the room. But we did and he was so happy. We soaked in the tub and snuggled skin-to-skin, letting the herbs heal our tired bodies.

After a hectic two weeks of almost daily heel pricks to check M’s bilirubin, doctor visits, and two hospital stays (my transfer plus two nights with M for jaundice), I finally felt like I had some peaceful closure to what was very likely my last journey with pregnancy and childbirth.


Sara’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal Age“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

I was born into my motherhood on May 6, 2013, when the sonogram tech pushed the sensor over my middle and said, as casually as you please, “Looks like there are two of them in there.” That’s when I realized I was 36 (going on 37) years old and pregnant with identical twins.

I had never had any gynecological issues, and have been pretty healthy my whole life. But now I was being watched like a hawk. All of my paperwork was stamped ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE. I saw the high-risk doctor for all of my ultrasounds – on fancier equipment than at my regular doctor. Then I went immediately upstairs to see one of the physicians in my OB-GYN’s office. (Everybody knew me – “the one with the twins.”) I got a flu shot and was admonished about taking prenatal vitamins.

At 18 weeks we elected to do the trisomy disorders testing. Due to my ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE, we wanted to be realistic as prepared (well, as prepared as is possible). The older you get, the more chances there are for that kind of disorder.

When the office called with the “all clear” results, I learned my double joys were boys. (After one learns one is carrying twins, one doesn’t want to push one’s luck, and finds out the gender of the babies. One can only take so many surprises.) Since those tests were ok, I didn’t feel it was necessary to do much more.
Despite the strong probability that I would have a c-section, I dragged my husband to Bradley method classes. I diligently practiced a meditation series designed to support natural childbirth. I did exercises to open the pelvis, stretch my lower body, and get ready for labor. I wanted to keep all my avenues open and being prepared for a natural birth was one of them.

I was nauseated throughout my pregnancy. Like…pretty epic Kate Middleton-ish nausea. On one occasion I was up at 4 a.m., throwing up in the bathroom. The episode had come on so quickly, I hadn’t had time to pee. So every time I vomited, a hot stream shot down my let. I started crying, mostly from embarrassment. (Thank god for tile floors.) I ended up with a prescription for Zofran. I also had a little sciatica at the end, and I was hot ALL. THE. TIME. Other than all that, it was an okay situation.

Still hoping for a natural birth, I was happy to see that Twin A was head down from the beginning. His brother, however, Twin B tended to swim laps in his own juicy balloon of amniotic fluid. At some point, their weight diverged and Twin B became larger.

And larger.

And had more fluid.

Until at 34 weeks, my doctors felt that it was about time to serve these freeloaders their eviction notices. Neither baby was in danger, per se, but the risk of problems such as a (terrifying) condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome becomes greater – due to my age and a few other factors like the discrepancy in size.

We did everything to jump start labor. (Yes, we did that, too. EVERYTHING.) When that failed, it was time to be induced. My husband and I and the woman who would serve as our doula went to the hospital bright and early in the morning of my 36th week.

I had all my stuff: my iPod for my hypnosis tracks, a speaker for relaxing music, a birth ball, and a birth plan that included so much humor that the nurses had passed it among the entire staff by mid-morning. (My default setting is “funny” because that’s the best way to get through hard or scary times.) I included a picture of a cover of the Thompson Twins’ album. Some may recognize the band from the 80’s. I know about 80’s bands, on account of my ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE.

Pitocin started at about 7:30 a.m. I was in some discomfort from the sciatica and from Twin B, who was now head down with his feet in my lungs. I wasn’t feeling much of anything though, and I had been dilated a measly 2 cm for a couple of weeks. At 11:30 a.m., the doctor broke Twin A’s water.

From then until about 5:30 p.m., I felt what can best be described as moderate menstrual cramps. My husband and the doula (a former labor and delivery nurse) could see the surges of labor on the monitor, which were regular and steady. But I was eating popsicles and watching movies on my iPad…nothing signaling imminent birth.

When the doctor came at 5:30 p.m. and said I’d gotten to 3.5 cm, I said, what’s plan B? I didn’t want to meet my boys dehydrated, exhausted, and starving. I know my body and even though I’d never been in labor, I believed it wasn’t going to happen for me. Plan B was to prep me for a c-section.

I believe my doctor – a sharp Italian woman who joked that I’d hypnotized my uterus with all the self-hypnosis tracks – would have let me continue Pitocin if I’d wanted. She didn’t do anything to make me think she “wanted” one thing or another.

We sent the doula home since…C-section so we didn’t really need her anymore. And we started texting family members to keep them updated.

As they rolled me into the operating room, people kept introducing themselves. I had two attending physicians. Two support teams – one for each baby. Nurses to help me. An anesthesiologist. And of course, my husband. But the best part was realizing that the nurses had gone to the trouble of putting some Thompson Twins music on the speakers of the OR. It was incredibly sweet.

(Maybe there should be a trigger warning here – I’m going to talk about medical stuff and innards.)

There’s no way to describe a c-section except the way they told me: you’ll feel pressure but not pain. The scariest part was that initial epidural or spinal block or whatever it’s called. My husband couldn’t be there with me for it, so I sat on the edge of the table, a pillow for support, and my arms draped over my nurse. I’m glad I didn’t see that needle, honestly.

Since they’d already broken Twin A’s water, he came out first. I burst into tears when I heard Jasper’s indignant wail. Moments later, I heard Sterling’s.

What I didn’t know at the time, as I was crying and feeling pressure but not pain is this: Sterling had so much more amniotic fluid than Jasper that when they broke the sac, the support team had to scramble to mop up the tidal wave of birth juice.

Another thing I didn’t know: my uterine muscle was stretched so thin that it was white. No wonder I couldn’t go into labor. The poor thing was doing it’s best to keep everybody contained.

Third thing I didn’t know about: At some point, the nurse took the placenta to weigh it. My husband, being a total medical nerd, took a picture of it. (I have not seen this picture. I’m not sure I ever will.) His description was something along the lines of, “It was huge. Even the nurses said so.”

In the end, yes, I had a c-section. It wasn’t part of my plan. But two healthy babies was definitely the goal and that’s what I got. I did ask the doctor to do internal and external stitches because I thought that would give me the option to have a VBAC down the road. Having another is not off the table.


Lisa’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal Age**I’ve blogged at length about my eight pregnancies and two (live) births on www.blackpantysalvation.com. This story is taken from two posts.**
Contractions started at 3am this morning. That was 11 hours ago. I’m not supposed to be thinking about that, about time, and I didn’t even ask Kris the time it was until nearly 10am, but it’s starting to take its toll.

I should busy myself doing things I enjoy my midwife says, but that’s a challenge when you’re brought to your knees every seven minutes. Still, the suggestion is a solid one. This is nothing compared to what’s going to come, whenever that may be.

So I am currently enjoying sitting criss-cross applesauce on our bathroom’s radiant floor, laptop on toilet, updating BPS.
I enjoyed our hour’s walk around the neighborhood and Garner Park earlier. It was really cold and snowy. I was listening to Fun. and Gwen Stefani and then when Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” shuffled through I cried a little. Gets me every time that one.

I am about to enjoy a movie with Kris. Or maybe continue with “The Walking Dead” that we started last night. Something that doesn’t require my undivided attention.
I’d like to enjoy a tuna salad wrap but is there anything worse to vomit than tunafish? I will stick with my smoothies.
I’m not going to write about Arlo or about how much I miss him or about how the longer this takes the longer we will be separated. Nope. Not going to write about that.
I am enjoying my hot water bottle.

After posting Comfort Measures, I did go downstairs to watch television with Kris and continue on with labor:

March 1st

2:00pm

I felt a kinship with both the zombies and the living of “The Walking Dead“. As I paced around the kitchen island and dining room table, my stride was that of a zombie’s, probably my pallor and gaze as well. They screamed and moaned, I screamed and moaned. It was a solid choice for labor entertainment, all things considered.

A typical sign of progress in labor is that contractions 1) last longer 2) feel stronger and 3) happen closer together. Twelve hours in and mine were not gaining getting closer. They were longer and stronger definitely, cruelly, but still only seven minutes apart. My throat already feeling raw, I knew I had to stop using my voice for comfort. I began banging things with my hand instead. I took a spatula and smacked it on the concrete countertop, my hand on the dining table, the footstool against the floor, etc. I gave in to my hunger and ate tunafish.

I was becoming very depressed and at seven minutes apart, I never considered calling my Doula or Midwife, I just plodded along in pain, zombie-style.

4:30pm

The sun was beaming down into the playroom so I retreated there for a moment. During the next contraction I started sobbing and couldn’t stop. I was focused on the lack of progress and could only think about how long it would be until I saw Arlo again. I cried and cried and banged Arlo’s toy pots and pans on his toy stove in his toy kitchen. I begged Kris to ask our friends for a picture of him RIGHT THEN so I could see he was happy. He was.

Two more contractions pacing around the island.

The next contraction never stopped.

5:23pm

Still downstairs in the bathroom, I clung to Kris’s leg, trying to breathe while everything skyrocketed. In a second of respite I tell Kris to call our Doula and Midwife. He does and with me still clinging to his legs, he somehow manages to get me upstairs.

A friend of a friend once described the pain of labor as “being murdered from the inside out”. I have also heard it described as “having really strong menstrual cramps”. My experience is the former. I am drawn back to our tiny master bathroom. Every cushion and pillow we own are on the floor to spare my hands and knees. I labor between the toilet and the sink, my head over a kitchen mixing bowl to catch the water and tunafish I repeatedly vomit. The pain is so overwhelming my open-mouthed, low, vibrating moans turn into blood-curdling screams.

5:51pm

Our Midwife arrives. I can’t even acknowledge her. The screaming becomes insufficient. I am driven to destroy as my body is feeling destroyed. I send everything on top of the toilet tank flying into the shower wall. I smash the toilet bowl brush against the ceramic floor. I shake the pedestal sink from its base. I am the Incredible Hulk, caged. The Midwife reminds me to breathe but does not get in my way or tell me do anything different. She puts a cold rag on my neck. She wipes the vomit off my face. It is good. Our Doula is here. It is now dark. I hear rustling in the bedroom. I think it is the birth pool being set up and I go mad. Faced pressed against the cool toilet tank I consider ripping off the lid and bashing myself over the head. There is no way this is going to go on long enough to need a birth pool. I will take myself out of the equation first.

Talk of flashlights.

My waters break.

6:10pm

My body throws itself from hands-and-knees to sitting back on my heels, clenching my entire backside. Then my body climbs itself up the wall to a standing position. I am screaming as loud as I can for as long as I can.

I feel the baby move down and out.

Then back up.

Then down and out.

Then back up.

Then I understand I can get her out and it will be done. I understand she is ready. I understand everything. I will bear my child.

So I do.

Farrah Star born March 1, 6:18pm, 9lbs 4oz, 20 1/4″ long

Afterbirth

The elation comes when I see Farrah’s soft, squishy, chubby body in my Midwife’s hands, between my legs, flashlights spotlighting her like stars in the sky. I search for Kris’s face in the dark and finding it I say “Oh Kris! Our baby!” Everything I’d longed for, everything I always knew to be true and pure and possible happened. I am awash in pride and gratitude as my family becomes longer, stronger and closer together.


Lorraine’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeThis was my second pregnancy after 35. She was unplanned. She was my third child with my husband. I also have a 22 year old daughter I had at 18. The first of my youngest was a cesarean as the final result of a cascade of interventions starting with induction. The second was vbac and was scheduled to deliver in the hospital but she came so quickly the midwife came back to the house and she was born on my couch, for which I am eternally grateful. It was such a beautiful experience that when I found out I was pregnant with our third we planned to have a home birth. All of my health care professionals were very supportive of my pregnancy. My family doctor suggested that because of my age maybe I should consider the hospital. My midwife had some minor concerns about me being vbac and delivering at home, but mostly for the sake of me being absolutely sure that that’s what I wanted. After doing all of the research I decided that the risks were not great enough for me to change my plan. I was aware that going overdue, or being induced were what significantly increased my risk of rupture as opposed to a vaginal birth in and of itself, so I did everything in my power to make sure that neither of those things happened. I went to the chiropractor twice a week. I went for acupuncture 3 times a week, and at 37 weeks I started acupuncture with the purpose of drawing down the baby and strengthening my uterus.
At 38 weeks I went into labor. We had rented a birth pool, planning a water birth, so I immediately got my husband up and told him to set up the pool. I called my doula, who happens to also be my best friend, and my midwife to let them know what was happening, and I arranged for someone to pick my mother up at the airport who was scheduled to arrive that day. Once the pool was set up and my doula arrived my labor stopped, so we all went back to bed and my friend had a nap on the couch. I woke up and was having mild contractions but started to wonder if I had jumped the gun on calling it labor. My friend and I went for a walk to see if we could get things happening, and though I was having contractions they weren’t particularly regular. I had a chiropractor appointment scheduled for that morning, so my doula, my friend, suggested that we go. I got an adjustment, and on the table had a contraction. On the way out the door I had a contraction, at the bottom of the stairs had a contraction, and then I contracted all the way home. It was obvious to me at this point that my labor was fully established. I arrived at my house the same time as my mother. After labouring a short time I told my husband to fill the pool and call the midwife. They all worried it was too soon, but i was sure. My husband ran out of hot water so we had to wait for it to heat up. Meanwhile I got into the tub and my doula was helping me. I was also using the exercise ball and she was rubbing my back. I didn’t want my water to break because I was strep b positive and I didn’t want the antibiotics, so while I was contracted I was very very aware of letting the baby move down but not forcing it too quickly. By the time my midwife arrived I felt like I needed to push; she considered doing a vaginal exam and then decided against it realizing that I was probably fully dilated. She said the words to me “well it looks like you’re going to have a baby right now”. They scrambled to put something down on the bed so that I could deliver there since we didn’t have time to finish filling the pool. I got on the bed and after a few pushes baby Lilian was born in the caul. It was the most amazing and awe inspiring experience of my life. I had no fear. I was in complete control, and my baby was born in the most miraculous way possible. I would not have done it differently for even a moment, and I would do it again in a second. What holds me back is not my age but that I am satisfied with the children I have, and I’m not interested in starting a reality special “the woman who has 15 children because she’s addicted to labor.” After she was born they finished filling the pool and we went in together for a nice calming bath. She is the sweetest baby, and I am fill with gratitude.


Amber’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeI transferred from a planned hospital birth to a home based birth at 36 weeks gestation.
My first 2 children had been born in a hospital birthing centre with the same midwife in attendance – with my first there was also a Registrar there at the birth (I was aged 33 and 35 at the time of their births).
This pregnancy I couldn’t get into the same birthing centre, although I tried hard, as we had moved house and no longer fell in their catchment zone. I decided I would go through the general section of the same hospital, and we saw a different midwife in clinic for each visit. At 36 weeks the nurses already began discussing induction in hospital, although I expressed my wish not to be induced unless my baby or myself were at risk.
Early in pregnancy blood tests had shown a low Pap-a hormone level, an amino was all clear, but an Obstetrician suggested it could be a sign my placenta wasn’t working properly. Further ultrasounds at 20, 32 and 36 weeks showed normal fetal growth (in the 90-95th percentile) and a normal functioning placenta. Although these tests were all ok, they told me based on the early blood results, my age (I turned 38 in October, and my son was born 2 months later in December), and the size of the baby, I should probably not go over my due date.
The hospital had already adjusted my expected due date back by 1 full week, based on my 12 week ultrasound. I had argued against this as I was very certain of my date of ovulation and conception. I had been tracking this while we were trying to get pregnant, which put my due date 1 week later. The hospital stated it was their policy to go off the ultrasound and not the LMP, and would not change it.
I had been induced with my first pregnancy and was not keen for this to happen again. My first and second children had been born past their expected due dates, and I assumed my third would be the same, and I would encounter the same pressure to be induced again.
I did a lot of research and met with an independent midwife at 36 weeks, and felt so relieved with her support and encouragement for my healthy pregnancy, that I decided to change my plans to a home birth with her support.
The last weeks of my pregnancy were uneventful. At 41 weeks + 6 days (based on my due date from my LMP, not the 12 week ultrasound), there was still no sign of labour starting despite all my natural attempts to start it, and regular acupuncture. I was starting to worry about being so far past my due date, I didn’t want to place my baby or myself at risk in any way.
After discussion with my midwife, I tried castor oil, which started labour within about 8-10 hours. My labour lasted around 22 hours, and eventually my son was born in a birth pool (water birth) at home, a healthy 10lb 1oz (4.57kg) at 42 weeks gestation. He was very responsive, lifting his head already, and covered in a thick coat of vernix. I had no tearing or grazing, and no complications or issues post his birth.
For me this birth was a very positive experience. I was extremely grateful to have made the decision to transfer out of hospital care, as I know my experience would have been very different with the pressure to follow hospital protocols and guidelines. I wouldn’t have hesitated to transfer back to hospital if there were issues during my last few weeks of pregnancy or labour/delivery, but thankfully there was no need for this.


Lauren’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeIt was my to be my fourth birth, my previous three births had all been in hospital, all induced due to being ‘late’ which started a cascade of interventions and pretty much, (I felt) all full of mental torture, I handed myself over to the idea that drugs made it better, in fact all they done was made me lose even more all my control of my birth!
When I fell pregnant again I went into panic mode and decided the only way I would get through another birth was to make it as different from the last three as possible! The biggest difference had to be environment, I was so scared at the thought of going into hospital and handing myself over to the healthcare providers, I had decided that even if I gave birth alone in a bush it would be preferable to going into a hospital! So, my journey began, planning the birth became a full-time job, I had HypnoBirthing, and had to spend a considerable amount of time practicing to just ‘relax’, I searched and found a Doula who I knew would keep me grounded and positive before/during and after the birth, I watched birth story after birth story after birth story, the HypnoBirths on youtube are amazing!! I had Rehki throughout my pregnancy to make sure that I stayed centred and strong both mentally and physically, I was so adamant that I wouldn’t be induced again and so started Reflexology a week before I was due!
And here’s the fun part!! I went into labour spontaneously a day before I was due, for the first time ever at around 3am, my surges were always 4-5 minutes apart from the first one to the last one, I called Amanda (my Doula) at around 4.30am, as I had never gone into labour naturally I wasn’t sure what to expect, so was a bit nervous at this point. Gem (my husband) had filled the pool and put the lid on it to keep warm, we were ready to go! I laboured on until the kids started to get up at around 7, it all stopped quite suddenly, Amanda assured me that this could be due the fact that the kids being around had put me off and my brain had flipped into practical mum mode instead of birthing mum mode! Also, during my HB when I visualised the birth it was at night time, I remember saying to Amanda when I was having the surges “but it’s not dark yet?” Another reason why things may have stopped, the mind is a very powerful tool!
I arranged for the kids to be collected, Amanda went home, I had a shower and went back to bed. It was only an hour after I’d fallen asleep that the surges started again, I felt really positive that this was it, it was going to happen this time. I was right, I started to have a my show and was just chilling around the house staying relaxed and calm, taking each surge as they came. By 4.30pm I felt that I needed Amanda’s support once more, Gem called her and she was back within the hour. On seeing her face I started to feel desperate, like when a poorly child see’s their mum, Amanda took me into a dark room set me down on the floor and just spoke to me, this was enough to give me the strength to carry on and the confidence that I could do this! We wandered around just chatting, listening to music only pausing for each surge the atmosphere was amazing so chilled and comfortable, the lights were on dim and life was just going on. The surges were getting stronger but staying only 4-5 minutes apart so Amanda had to watch my body language to be able to see when we felt the MW would be necessary, this was at about 7.30pm. The MW was a very young (23) girl who came in with a calm that complemented the atmosphere that we had already created. In my birth plan I had requested NO internals unless absolutely essential, I wanted my birth to be all about having faith in my body and that it would birth my baby the best way that would suit both me and baby, I also requested that I was not to offered any drugs at any stage. The MW was so respectful of this and I didn’t have one internal throughout the entire labour! By 8.30 I felt that the pool was calling, and it was bliss, I just sunk in and wallowed around managing to rest between surges….I kept telling myself the worst was yet to come and that I needed to hold off the drugs until that point came, although I found using the mouthpiece from the Gas and Air highly effective in using as a distraction!
I had two checks of the babies heartbeat throughout the whole labour, it was the most natural experience ever and a complete contrast to my previous birthing experiences. I felt the baby drop down further and at this point got quite emotional, I was crying saying “but I love my other children so much, why am I making them share me again” It was quite a powerful emotion and I really felt sad, Amanda spoke quietly to me reminding me that the kids were all so excited that they were getting a new sibling and that they already love this baby, and as soon as it comes out I will find the extra love! Of course she was right! This gave me the last bit of strength I needed and at 9.30pm I breathed my baby out in one surge, with the waters, our baby floated into the pool laying flat on his back arms outstretched. The MW swept him through my legs (I was on all fours) and Amanda said “here’s your baby, you can pick him up” I was the first person to hold my baby!!
Ace arrived weighing 8lb 5oz, my birth was intervention free, drug free, almost pain free and as perfect as I had spent months hoping it would be, it was beautiful and having watched it back (we filmed it) I saw how birth should be! Ace is defiantly our last baby, so I can safely say that I went out on a high!!


Danielle’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeMy son is my second child and was conceived when I was 37 years old after trying for 4 cycles. When I was younger I would conceive immediately but would always lose my pregnancies very quickly until my progesterone deficiency was discovered. With my son, as with my daughter, I took progesterone supplements and had uneventful pregnancies. I had early ultrasounds with a reproductive endocrinologist and later an anatomy scan with each of my kids. Both were deemed healthy and measured perfectly.

We had planned home births with two midwives, and I used the hypnobirthing method for pain management. I loved my birthing experiences. My son was born 3 weeks early on April 6. His due date had been April 26. The midwives felt safe about proceeding with the home birth and so did I. My labor began around 2:00 AM, and I called my midwife around 3:00, when I was sure it was the real deal and the pace was picking up. Unfortunately she was assisting at another birth and had to get someone to cover her, then drive about an hour to my house. I wasn’t worried because I thought there was plenty of time. I asked my partner to please drive our daughter to his parents while I took a shower and focused on laboring.

My partner got back around 4:15, just as our assisting midwife arrived. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat and they both stood by while I focused on relaxing and breathing. Our primary midwife arrived just as I was getting the urge to push, around 4:45 AM. My son, Morgan, was born very soon after, at 4:57. I couldn’t believe how fast it was!

As soon as Morgan was born we saw that he had a rare congenital birth defect. He was perfectly healthy, but his left had was disfigured. He was later diagnosed with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which resulted in the partial amputation of 4 fingers on his left hand and one on his right, as well as some fingers being fused together. This was quite a surprise at birth, but the midwives handled it well. His condition is not related to maternal age.

My midwives were never concerned about my age at all, and neither was I. In our visits we discussed many things related to my pregnancy and upcoming birthing, but my age was never one of them.


Gretchen’s Story

Evidence Based Birth | Evidence on Advanced Maternal AgeI was fortunate in some respects in that I worked with an OB who respected my thought that AMA was just a number and didn’t pressure me for further monitoring at the age of 35/36. I’m pregnant now with Baby

 

 

 

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