Friday, March 2, 2012

What Are the Odds?

by Susan McBride

As a 47-year-old woman who's five months pregnant (and who did it the old-fashioned way), I'm glad I didn't read the statistics before Ed and I tried to have a baby.  I saw an article today where fertility experts basically said the possibility of someone my age getting knocked up without medical intervention was "slim to none."  I'm thinking part of the reason behind these so-called experts coming up with that hardly encouraging response was that they're all in the fertility game.  They want older women to think they need help (aka, they need to spend loads of moola) to conceive. I'm glad I listened to my ob/gyn instead of those geniuses.  Basically she told me, "If you're still having your period regularly, you've got a shot."  My internist threw in this tidbit, "If you still get cramp-like pains in the area of your ovaries between periods"--something called, and I'm not kidding, the schmertz--"you're still ovulating." 

I had both, and my ob/gyn did a blood test called FSH, which some doctors use to gauge fertility levels, and mine was nice and low (the lower, the better in this case).  All systems seemed to be go, which gave Ed and I hope that it could happen.

Let me backtrack a minute by saying I'd been through some rough stuff in my early forties, as some of you already know, namely dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis at 42 and all the scariness that entails.  I had fallen in love and married a younger man, and I really hoped at some point I could make him a daddy.  I didn't have chemo so I didn't go into early menopause with my treatment.  But it also meant I couldn't possibly do hormone therapy to get preggers without a lot of risks.  So we opted not to do that, figuring we'd leave things up to nature. 

At 46, I found out I was pregnant after I missed a period (or two) while working on a deadline, planning a fundraiser, and dealing with my mom's breast cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, things didn't look very good from the start.  We didn't see a heartbeat on the sonograms when we should have. I miscarried at about eight weeks, on New Year's weekend of 2011.  Not the best start to a new year I've ever had, that's for sure.

My belly in January!
"You'll be more fertile for the next two years," my doctor promised, urging us to keep trying despite how devastated we felt. Ed and I still had the attitude that if it's meant to be, it'll happen.  So we didn't give up.  Honestly, we just tried not to think about it, moving forward in our lives, keeping busy.  Until the day after my birthday in mid-October of 2011 when I found out I was pregnant again.  This time, I waited to go see my ob/gyn until I was pretty sure I was around eight weeks.  We saw a heartbeat on the ultrasound immediately, and Ed and I cried and laughed like a couple of fools. On the 20-week anatomy scan early in February, we learned that we're having a girl. So nice to be able to talk to my belly and call her "Emily" now--although I'm still fond of "Peapod," too. 

I'm not sure what those fertility experts would think. They'd probably dub me an anomaly or something.  Although when I Google "pregnant at 47" and check out messages in over-40 chat rooms, it looks like I'm not alone.  Seems like plenty of women are getting pregnant naturally beyond our supposed expiration dates. I wonder if they get questions, too, like "weren't you menopausal already?" or "you must've had donated eggs, yes?"  Um, no and no.

I remember when some researcher came out with the odds of a woman over 40 getting married. I believe the statistic said we had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a mate. Yet another area where I don't fit the mold since I met Ed a few weeks after I'd turned 41.

Which is why I'm not a fan of all these goofy studies telling us the averages for all kinds of things from dating to diseases to babies.  I figure we'd all be better off if we'd just ignore them and live our lives the way we want.  Who the heck wants to be average anyway???

20 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Susan. I've never been want to read statistics or "supposed to's" or even side affects on prescriptions. Why? What's gonna transpire will transpire. Period.

    To this day, I've never read all of the symptoms of MS. Why? I'll get them if I'm supposed to and I won't if I'm not. I like forging my own path. Always have.

    Nice post!

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  2. Laura, if I could hug you right now, I would! I think the only way to survive--and thrive--in this crazy world is to forge your own path. If we tried to live our lives the way other people tell us we should--politicians and authors of all these studies come to mind!--we would sure miss out on a lot of good stuff. :-)

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  3. Um, I've never been "one" to read statistics...

    Sorry my fingers and my brain decided to part company, apparently, while I was typing my above comment. Ugh.

    Hope you're doing okay in all that wild weather you're getting...

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  4. I knew what you meant! ;-) We're okay. The worst stuff keeps going south of us. So I feel awful for the people south of us! Yipes!

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  5. Hey--I was told a) I would never get published, what with the state of the industry and b) that I had a 1-2% chance of surviving Stage IV melanoma. Six books later and (knock wood) seven years out from diagnosis, I've learned a lot about life, statistics, and what-if's. Sending blessings, love, and good thoughts to you, Susan. xo Maggie

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  6. Maggie, I am beyond grateful that you're an odds beater, girlfriend!!! Not sure what the odds are of me staying sane without you these days. Surely not good. ;-)

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  7. Your story is so wonderful and heartwarming, I hope you write a memoir or at least a novel about it one day. And you look far younger than you are--and I have a hunch you feel that way too.

    Marilyn

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  8. When I took a statistics class, the saying was, "Figured don't lie, but liars can figure."
    Huzzah for you and all who defy statistics and just keep on keeping on!

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  9. When we married 45 years ago we were told that almost all teen marriages fail, pregnancy "forced" marriages fail. Well, we've bet those odds so far, having raised 5 healthy and happy kids to adulthood and with 6 grands going, too. I'm not saying that everything was always smooth going but if you want to, you can bet anything.

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  10. Marilyn, I have a feeling a memoir is in the cards! Someday when I have time, I'd love to write about my experiences, especially all the things that've happened since I turned 40. It's been the most exciting and challenging part of my life. :-)

    Mary, yep, liars can figure. I feel more and more like these studies and statistics are often skewed to prove whatever the study authors want them to prove. I tend to take them all with a grain of salt!

    Yellowrose, you followed your heart and you beat the odds! I love it! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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  11. If I had listened to the odds, chance are :) I would have been dead two or three times by now. I decided the only number that matter was one — Me and what happened to me and what I could do about it, like deciding to fight to stay alive. Great post! Best wishes to the whole family including Mom

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  12. I'm very glad you're an odds beater, too, Warren! And, you're right, when we're fighting for our health, we have to shove statistics aside and do whatever we can to get through. I feel like so much these days is focused on the herd and not the individual. We have to be our own best advocate. You stay well...and good luck with the Derringer Award! Hugs!

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  13. Susan, I just loved this post. You're so brave and obviously we all knew you're more than one in a million. I am so happy for you, especially since I met you right before all this stuff happened. So delighted for you and Emily and Ed.

    I beat the odds once too, when my doctor said that he'd heard there was a slim possibility of breaking the titanium rod that was holding my broken arm together. But he'd never seen it and didn't expect to. I was one in a million the day the thing split apart and I had to have surgery again. Some odds are better than others. Cheers.

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  14. I think your energy and love of life, and your family, including peapod-that's why you can beat the odds and have a wonderful life. You are SO not average!

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  15. Thanks, Ellen! Sorry about that titanium rod, though. Yeesh! Good thing you're a tough cookie!

    Aw, thanks, Lil! That's really sweet. :-)

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  16. I knew you were pregnant but I didn't know the story behind it. Thanks for sharing your story and the uplifting message behind it. I am SO happy for you and your husband. This child will be loved and blessed! I live with chronic illness and I agree that studies and averages can't and won't define me!

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  17. great post!You are so brave. I wish you and your baby good health. Be happy

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  18. Maureen, thanks so much! We're happy as clams, that's for sure. You are so smart not to let studies and averages affect the way you live your life. We're all individuals, not sheep. So everything that happens to us is unique. I don't think any study ever takes that into account! Hugs to you!

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  19. Congratulations on beating the odds and overcoming breast cancer. You must have caught the cancer very early to decide to bypass any treatments. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, June 2009, two Weeks before my big wedding. I followed my doctors advice of chemo therapy (andrimiacin, cytoxan, taxol) followed by target treatment (Herceptin) and tamoxifen. I also had a bilateral masectomy. I am proud to say that at the age of 36, my husband and I conceived "the old fashioned" way, four months ago.

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  20. Courtney, congrats to you and your hubby! That's fantastic news! And congrats on beating the cancer! You have been through it all, girl! I'm so happy you're getting to experience such a wonderful high after slogging through some rough times. My cancer was caught fairly early, although my mammogram missed it. I waited three months before firmly requesting an ultrasound because I knew the lump wasn't a cyst. So, by its size, I was Stage 2a. But it was a rare, slow-growing cancer so I was fortunate in that respect. I did have treatment in the form of lumpectomy, re-excision to clear a margin ,and six and a half weeks of radiation therapy. I just didn't do the chemo, too (and that was after much investigating of my cancer type, my path report, and talking to all my doctors). Anyway, it warms my heart that we're survivors and both pregnant! If that doesn't show that there's hope, I don't know what does. Hugs to you!

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