I am 42.
All your concerns are natural, but they don't have to be deal breakers. I will be 43 by my due date. Although this pregnancy was somewhat of a surprise, I wasn't really
I also kind of agree with the previous poster, to a point. If you're so afraid that,
I think this is a decision that only you and your husband can decide. I also think that sometimes we can "overthink" certain decisions causing ourselves undo stress and anxiety.
Yes, your risks are increased given your current age, but your risk was also elevated at 36 and 38 (and probably 34). You've had 3 healthy babies, so there's no reason to think that you couldn't again.
As Karen mentioned, 80% of all Down Syndrome babies are born to women 35 and younger (according to the National Down Syndrome web page) b/c statistically, women younger than 35 have more babies. And, what if you do have a Down Syndrome baby...is it really the end of the world?
I have had to ask myself this very question, b/c at 40.5 years old and pregnant with our 3rd baby, my risk assessment came back elelvated for Down Syndrome...1:17. One might think that is exceptionally high, but actually, I still have a 95% chance of having a normal-chromosomal baby.
And what if this 3rd baby does have Down Syndrome...well then either God thinks that I am the perfect mother for this gift or that I need to be taught a lesson or two. Have we told our other 2 children...ages 5 & 3 about the odds. Nope. Why? They are over the moon excited about having a new brother or sister and at this point in their lives have no preconceived notions about disabilities.
There is a beautiful blog called "Enjoying the Small Things" that is basically a diary of a 31-year old mother's surprise delivery of a Down Syndrome baby (born 1/22/10) She had no idea that the gift she would receive would be different than the gift she was expecting and she is honest, raw, and truthful about her emotions. I don't know if it is her journaling, her photography, or just my own connection to her life story, but I think baby Nella is the most PERFECT and BEAUTIFUL infant I have ever seen.
Only you know yourself well enough to know what you are capable of handling and what your spouse can deal with as well. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and are surprised by others as to what we can do when called to rise to the occasion. And, as the previous 2 commenters posted, the odds really are on your side to have a healthy baby.
Best wishes with your decision-making,
I was also very worried about having a baby with one of the many issues that can come with age.
The risks are higher at 43, but chances are still very much in your favor for a healthy baby. I believe the risk of Down Syndrome at age 43 is actually 1 in 53, which still means about a 98% chance the baby won't have T21, so that is hardly a sure thing. If a T21 baby or other poor diagnosis is not something that works for you and your family, that is completely diagnosable with CVS (you can do at 13 weeks) or amnio (you can do at 15 weeks), and avoidable. You can opt to terminate and try again— while difficult, something like 95% of women prenatally diagnosed with Downs do make that choice, and usually go on to have a healthy baby with their next pregnancy. Not to mention that a very high percentage of T21 babies naturally die in utero/are stillborn/miscarry/not viable. If termination is not an option you would consider, you need to weigh your desire to have a child against how you feel about the possibility of a baby with mild to serious health and developmental problems or a potentially traumatic late term or infant loss.
There are other risks that increase with age, such as miscarriage (related to the increase in chromosomal defects, most trisomies end in miscarriage/fetal loss), and certain pregnancy complications (though I think the age factor here is mainly related to the fact that some conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure become more common with age, if you are very healthy your risk is likely lower). You need to decide what you can handle emotionally, what you think your body is up for, and what is right for you and your family.
The risk of infertility is also increased, so even if you decide to try, there is no guarantee you will get pregnant.
However I would NOT listen to what "other people" think. Many 40+ women have babies, and most of these are completely healthy. In fact most women I know IRL have had their FIRST child in their late 30's or early 40's (healthy babies), so I think it is considered very normal for educated professional women in many metropolitan, career oriented cities.