Advanced Maternal Age
Aaron would have his blood drawn and analyzed. The results would return in an excruciating two weeks. I looked at the lab requisition. My doctor had written in big letters: ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE.
Maternal. Oh. That's me. Advanced? Ouch. Well, I was 35 when Aaron was born but only 34 when he was conceived.
My myth-filled mind started to rationalize the situation. Only women over 35 had children with Down syndrome. Right? Right? Please, somebody tell me that's right.
(Actually, that's wrong. Now that I’m an expert on all things Down syndrome, I know that the 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35. This statistic busts open the myth that only "older" moms have babies with Down syndrome because of this interesting twist: more women under the age of 35 are having more babies than "older" women. Hence there are more ‘young’ moms than ‘old’ moms).
But in my reeling mind in my doctor's office, this "Advanced Maternal Age" business was starting to piss me off. My grief process kicked in. Denial: I wasn't over 35 when my baby was conceived; therefore my baby cannot have Down syndrome. Anger: How dare my physician call my age "advanced"! What does he know?
I’m a young chickie! I'm my husband’s young trophy wife! I haven't found any white hairs in my head yet! I like "Green Day" music! My doctor has clearly lost his mind.
Fast forward three years. My baby, who does indeed have Down syndrome, celebrated his birthday today. Yesterday he had a playdate with a friend with Down syndrome – and his mom was only 21 when her baby was born.
Even if my chronological age creeps up with each passing year, Aaron keeps me young. He's forced me to be a whip-smart advocate, fierce myth buster, and nimble cheerleader who applauds wildly for every single baby step.
Happy birthday, my dear Aaron. Your old mom (and even more ancient dad) love you very much.