Real Women. Real Stories. Part 3.
Sharon Praissman Fisher is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and co-author of Beyond The Egg Timer: A Companion Guide To Having Babies in Your Mid-Thirties and Older. She blogs on Psychology Today, BeyondTheEggTimer.com, and Nurtured-Well.com She is also a wife, mother, Buddhist lay teacher, and Chesapeake Bay sailor. She is passionate about helping women through all stages of their life and does so though her private practice, Nurtured Well, LLC, in Baltimore, MD. This is Sharon's story.
I had my first child at 38, the second at 40. That was not my plan. I got married at 33 after dating my husband for 3 years. We started trying for a baby soon after our wedding. We were realistic enough to not expect to get pregnant right away due to our families’ histories of infertility but certainly didn’t think it would take 3 years. One thing that irked me along the way was the sheer number of comments about my age. This wasn’t just a vanity thing. My Johns Hopkins Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) (fertility doctor) was completely unconcerned about my age. She reported that all of our tests came back normal and my hormone levels were ripe for making a baby. Furthermore, as I joined the “AMA” (advanced maternal age) tribe and did more research, I learned that 35 is not actually a fertility cliff for women. Yes, egg quality certainly decreases between age 35 and 40, but the overall chances of conceiving are really good. Furthermore, I wasn’t buying into this misconception that those of us having children later in life were career-obsessed-crazy-old-cat-ladies who didn’t prioritize baby making. I knew since age 10 that I wanted to be a mom and I knew that I wanted to be in a stable and loving marriage when I had a baby. (Quick shout out to all the single mamas by choice---you are stronger than I!) My circle of friends reflected this as well. The majority had their children in their mid -thirties or older for varying reasons.
Enter Emma: my good friend and main support during my fertility journey. We’re both research geeks and she is an actual professional researcher. What we saw in the media did not reflect what we saw in real life so we decided to do a qualitative study of sorts. We then turned that study into a book. Along the way I started blogging, then I submitted a piece I wrote to a magazine. The next thing I knew I was a paid columnist!
The pay simply validated my credibility as a writer in my mind but is not really the point. See, I have four degrees but probably only took a handful of humanities courses. I never expected to fall in love with writing. Writing, itself, became my muse as I was on my fertility journey. It was cathartic and I found it was the only forum where I could express myself fully. I also loved helping other women experiencing fertility struggles and AMA moms. I wanted them to have the information and support so lacking in the media about this.
There was a lot of pain and suffering along our fertility journey. The writing was a bright spot and has led me on all sorts of interesting paths from meeting other authors, reviewing books, interviewing people, pod cast appearances, and even a spot on the evening news!
Would I have become a writer if it were not for the fertility struggle? Who knows? What I do know is this:
-Life is dynamic. Don’t get too caught up in the temporary
-Only you get to define you. I’m sure there were plenty of people who doubted my ability to write a book, but I was too busy writing one to notice.
-Feel your feelings and look for comfort. It is never healthy to suppress your grief, pain, or rage however letting it consume you is unhealthy. Find an outlet and spend some of your time engaging in it.
-Do your research. If you are considering a baby over 35, don’t assume it will be wrought with difficulty. For many couples it’s not. My pregnancies and deliveries were really easy.