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Take It From Me, Not Every Woman Can Have A Baby In Her 40s

Women of all ages are better advised to listen to exactly what the medicos who deal with this issue day by day, have to say.

11/09/2017 1:18 PM AEST | Updated 11/09/2017 1:21 PM AEST
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For, as it happens, my own experiences accord exactly with the medical advice: don't leave having babies too late.

Camilla Franks? Love her.

Her fashion business is a global sensation, her designs adored by Oprah, Beyoncé and all of us who love a punch of poolside colour in our wardrobe. The turquoise blues. Those splashes of red. Those clever little sequin-y embellishments...

I've met Camilla a number of times and she is also, quite simply, a great chick.

More than all that, I am absolutely thrilled that at the age of 41 she is about to give birth to her first child.

And I am overflowing with admiration for any woman who can rock a pregnant tummy in full bloom in a bronze metallic bra and low-slung sarong.

To my JP When we were young, the world was ours. Not a care in a world, so many raised eyebrows. We loved relentlessly, yet drifted apart, Eighteen years later, we reconnected our hearts. Always my soulmate, a lover and a friend You've always been here, from start to end. Now we're all grown up, but we're still just starting We proudly stand here, seas apart yet never parting. Inside my belly now lays the love we've shared and been through, Inside your Milla two hearts are now beating for you. It seems like yesterday, we were two kids drinking in that London pub. But today, we're drinking tea here waiting for little bub. In this world, and every universe after, I'll always be your girl and you our baby's father xxC #camillawithlove #minimilla Special thanks to my loves @markvassallo @nonimakeup @julianamarcs and @simonlekias for this special moment

A post shared by CAMILLA (@camillawithlove) on

However, to come out and publicly slam the medical profession as she did in the press on Sunday for their cautionary fertility advice in the lead up to that little pink line appearing on her pregnancy test, is irresponsible in the extreme.

"A couple of years ago," she told the Sunday Telegraph, "I went through so many different tests and got told I needed to do IVF and spent thousands of dollars all from fear of what I was being told. I went to all these meetings and appointments all driven from complete fear that I couldn't have a child. I think we need to take the fear out of it".

As you might gather, Franks received the wonderful news earlier in the year that, despite the warnings from the medical fraternity about the difficulties of conceiving after the age of 40, she had naturally conceived a baby that is due next January.

"It was the wrong advice," Franks said firmly, "and it wasn't fair and it wasn't true and I was told I had to potentially go down the path of IVF and it was absolute BS. So I think, take a lot of it with a grain of salt".

I don't. And I fear that a lot of women will take Camilla's underlying message of: doctors be damned because falling pregnant naturally in later life is a breeze!

For the heartbreaking truth is, the road to motherhood for women in their 40s is overwhelmingly littered with broken dreams and 'I'll get to it later' regrets, with statistics showing that one in four women experiences difficulty falling pregnant from the age of 35. And by 40, a woman's odds of falling pregnant in her next cycle -- providing she is doing absolutely everything possible for that to happen -- are just five percent.

I think instead of taking as their guide the wonderfully fortunate experience of just one person -- even one as likeable and accomplished as Franks -- women of all ages are better advised to listen to exactly what the medicos who deal with this issue day by day, have to say.

For their knowledge is grounded in the analysis of millions globally, and the numbers are tragically clear: even if you are fortunate enough to fall pregnant naturally at 40, you have a 33 percent chance that you will then lose that baby to miscarriage. And at age 45, that figure rises to almost 60 percent.

I weep.

For, as it happens, my own experiences accord exactly with the medical advice: don't leave having babies too late.

While I was lucky enough to have all three of my children -- all blessedly healthy -- in my 30s, and never had any trouble conceiving, it all changed very quickly when I turned 40.

I had always wanted a big family, and when I discovered on that landmark birthday that I was pregnant again, I figured I had beaten the odds.

And then reality hit. At 11 weeks I started to bleed. An ultrasound confirmed the worst. That tiny little person I could see on the monitor wasn't moving. There was no heartbeat. The silence that sat in the air while we waited... and waited... as the nurse kept adjusting the jelly covered wand looking for signs of life was deafening. Maybe I was breathing too loudly in this tiny little darkened room, so I stopped, and waited some more.

"I'm so sorry," she finally said.

That precious little baby I was so looking forward to meeting hadn't made it past eight weeks. Nothing prepared me for the sadness to come -- and frankly, it haunts me still.

So, six months later, we tried again, sure that this time we had the numbers on our side. We had had our "one in three".

But it happened again, with almost exactly the same time-line. And another six months later, again. As my gynecologist gently told us, it was nature's way of saying my eggs were just too old.

An incredibly confronting moment for any woman.

The fact that this has not happened to Camilla Franks is absolutely wonderful, and I wish her all the very best for the rest of her pregnancy, and a beautiful healthy baby at the end of it all.

But, as one who has had so many friends in their 40s who would have loved to conceive but been unable to, I would strongly advise women to consult their doctors and listen carefully to what they say.

Yes, of course conception and a successful birth is possible in your 40s. But it isn't easy, can often involve heartache, and should not be described any other way.

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