This is 35

Thirty five. An age dreaded by many women in medicine. The age where a woman is medically considered “advanced maternal age.” And for those of us who embark on a career in medicine, it is only a few years after or even during our final years in training. 

So, how do I feel as we enter the first minutes of my 35th year of life? Advanced, but not in a negative way. 

I am sitting in a studio flat in London listening to the city sounds of patrons in the ethnic restaurants on the street being interrupted by honking cars, feeling the summer breeze blow through the window. Earlier this evening, I flew in from Morocco and navigated my way into the center of the city alone (without cell service). I explored the city by foot and had my takeout Chinese food in a hidden alleyway of restaurants lit up by twinkle lights. I leisurely window shopped down Oxford Street and stopped to appreciate a group of talented street performers. Tomorrow I head back home to Chicago. And why am I doing all of this? Because I want to.

I spent my mid 20s sacrificing my nights and weekends studying while I watched my colleagues from undergrad travel the world and live lavish lifestyles on their new salaries. I spent my late 20s sacrificing my holidays (and sleep) working as a resident while my acquaintances outside of medicine were getting married and starting families. I even spent my early 30s refining my clinical skills and pouring myself into my career, wondering when I would finally be able to start my life. The answer: whenever I wanted to. I sacrificed much of my adult life, and I am so glad to have “advanced” from that era and learned that I can do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it.

I am thirty five. Sure, if motherhood chooses me, I will be an “elderly primigravida,” but I don’t dread it. I am much more happy that I have chosen to live my life on my terms before it became too late.

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