By Monique Gonzales
If you had asked me in my 20s if I wanted to have kids, I would have said no. Even in my 30s I still had too many ambitions: yearning to travel, live in Europe, earn my master’s degree, etc. I consider myself lucky to follow generations of women who paved the way, making it possible to have so many choices and paths in life. It’s true that more women are choosing to start a family in their 30s and 40s now, and I’m one of them.
Did I know that a doctor would classify me as AMA (Advanced Maternal Age) at age 35 when I was 35? Absolutely not. In fact, I met my future husband when I was 35. So unless I wanted to say “Bonjour, nice to meet you, want to have kids?” on the first date, the cards of modern medicine were already stacked against me.
When we decided to embark on our fertility journey together, we hit a lot of walls. Who knew that it was so hard to get pregnant?
I laughed at myself thinking about all the effort and worrying that went in to pregnancy prevention when I was younger. It’s not always easy for young couples trying to get pregnant either. I wondered if the powers that be were punishing me for not being the type of mother who always knew she would have kids and had baby names already picked out.
It took 3 years of poking, prodding and testing to start off with a clean slate. It never occurred to me that I would have any physical issues that might prevent me from getting pregnant. Along the way I had a couple of surgeries. One to remove a polyp from my uterus and another to remove a massive fibroid behind my uterus. After that one, I had to wear a balloon in my uterus for 2 weeks and take hormones in order for it to rebuild itself — fun.
Even though I now had a clean slate at age 42, all the doctors were telling me that I had to undergo fertility treatments — take shots to stimulate multiple release of eggs or in vitro fertilization. They said that it would never happen naturally. Isn’t that what they always say?!
My husband and I believed if it was meant to be, it would happen naturally and if it didn’t happen naturally, it wasn’t meant to be. So we kept trying and were able to conceive naturally when I was 42. We were overjoyed and surprised! If people keep telling you something is impossible you start to believe them. We were definitely keeping this under wraps until I was out of the miscarriage danger zone. I wasn’t even telling myself during the early stages!
My doctor had me come in every week for an exam, inquisition and an ultra sound starting at Week #8. Even though my pregnancy was already confirmed by a blood test, I remember the skeptical look on my doctor’s face when she did the first ultrasound. She even said, “Well, let’s see…” Not only was there something to see, there was something to hear! I’ll never forget hearing the sound of our baby’s heart beat for the first time! It still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about the marvel of human life and the love I immediately felt for this tiny being.
After Week# 10 was over, my doctor declared me out of the danger zone. Now it was my turn to be skeptical. I started counting back to our conception date and decided that it was too soon to be so sure. I waited until 12 weeks from conception date (Week# 14 in the OBGYN world) to tell anyone.
Now it was time to have fun! I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the news with everyone and watching their reactions. The first people I told were a bunch of strangers: the women in my prenatal yoga class, followed by my husband’s family in France (you should have seen the looks on their faces when I turned down champagne!), then our close group of buddies, my immediate family (my sister guessed before I could make my big announcement) and lastly my new boss who is infamous for collecting secrets in the office (I surprised the hell out of him!).
I’ve been fortunate to have a fairly easy pregnancy so far considering my Advanced Maternal Age. I try to listen to my body in terms or exercise, diet and sleep. I have been interviewing doulas and have learned a lot from them about natural birth. It’s been quite a ride, and I hope to give you a glowing report in October. Wish me luck!
Monique Gonzales lives in Los Angeles with her French husband and 2 cats with a baby on the way. No one knows if it’s a boy or a girl but everyone keeps saying it’s a boy so that probably means it’s a girl! She has been practicing yoga for 16 years and aspires to become a gluten-free baker or a travel writer. For now, she works as the finance manager at a marketing/event management company.
Editor’s note: Monique is the youngest of my four cousins named Gonzales who grew up in Gonzales, California. No, the agricultural town near Salinas wasn’t named after them. She and her siblings are the daughters and sons of my late Aunt Ramona, one of my mother’s sisters, and my Uncle Eddie, who was my godfather. Everyone called him “Pro” because of his owlish professorial look. He’d be proud of his youngest daughter wearing a Dodgers cap in the above photos.
Tomorrow: Bob Ehlers, Back road cycling: Senses come alive