Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy 30th, Your Uterus Will Be Malfunctioning Shortly

I had Larry Potter when I was a few days shy of 23-and-a-half. Minus one couple I knew, I was the first of my friends to get married and procreate. It's a very strange feeling, especially if you're friends with people who were a year or two behind you in school, knowing that while you were dealing with breast pumps and sitz baths, you had friends talking about sorority mixers and English papers.

I finished having kids while still in my 20s. Forty years ago, this was the norm (what can I say...I'm retro), but nowadays, it's more common to finish your childbearing years in your 30s. Heck, I have friends that are my age that are only now starting to talk about when to have kids, and I'm 32.

So when my friend J. posted on Facebook what she got in the mail this morning, it made me curious...and a little angry.

"J....Maidenname Lastname would really like the nearby hospital to stop sending me fliers about how if I plan on having a baby, I'd better do it soon because I'm getting old, complete with invites to classes on the risks of pregnancy after 30. I am not amused."

Say WHA?!

J and her husband M have been married for five years, and are contemplating children. Like a meddlesome mother-in-law, I tease J about climbing aboard the baby train soon.

(Okay, I am aware that this needs to stop. I don't do it to be mean or nosy. I do it because J is my best friend from elementary school and she and M will make fabulous parents.)

(Fine. I'm a little nosy.)

When she posted her status this morning, I had to double check to make sure I read it correctly. I did. She has 13 comments on it, (the first one being mine saying I had nothing to do with her getting it) and all were appalled that she's receiving these sort of things.

I think the part that bothers me the most is the inference of 30 being the "advanced maternal age" number. It's totally not. (And I have it on good authority that advanced maternal age is a bunch of bullshit anyway.)

Thirty is the age where women need to attend classes on advance maternal age? Did this hospital catch a ride with Marty McFly in November 1955?

Hell, why not? And while we're at it, don't you DARE wear pants to the hospital, either.

I asked J for more information (and if I could use this in my blog) and this is what she sent me:

Here's more detail - it was a 4-page fold out deal that included multiple classes and tours of the facilities. "meet our doctors" "the risks of pregnancy after 30" etc etc. The title was "Maybe a Baby? (after 30!)" It was so slick, and so, so misguided. I can't think of anyone who would get that in the mail and think, "Yes! Just what I was hoping for!"

She also says that this mailer came from a hospital where she wouldn't deliver anyway. Good Lord, after that mailing, I don't think anyone should. I know hospitals have marketing budgets and directors, and I think the director of this one needs to have a B slap of reality across the cheekbones.

J also said she threw away the mailer before her husband saw it, wondering what information she was secretly sending away for. (He later found out about it over dinner, and is disappointed J threw it away.)

So, let me run this down for you. J is 32, married with no children. Some random local hospital buys a marketing list from someone who's compiling a list of local married, childless people over 30, spends a bedpan of cash (surely) developing this mailer, and then even more cash to mail it out to their targeted demographic, all to A.) Scare married childless women into becoming pregnant and B.) Delivering their fear-babies at this hospital.

Makes you think twice about any philanthropic donations to hospitals, doesn't it?

She only thinks she knows which hospital it is. If J were sure, I'd publish the hospital's name, address, email, phone number, marketing director's name, and direct line on the blog.

It makes me mad for J and M, and any other people that received this in the mail. Like I said, I was done having babies by the time I was 28, but certainly, I am in the minority with my friends. My grandmothers were 33 and 32 when they had my mom and dad, respectively. I have an aunt that had her kids in her late 30s. Several cousins, friends, former colleagues and neighbors have all had their kids after 30, 35, even some in their 40s.

Whichever west-suburban Chicago hospital that developed this campaign and sent it to J, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I bet you also tell women it's okay to smoke while pregnant, dads wait in the waiting room for their children to be born, and the only anesthetics used during childbirth is the shot of whiskey for the doc. Someone get me some concrete info on which hospital this is and I'll give them an earful.

Thanks to J for her story and fact-checking. Here's an article on the class:


And, as promised:

Provena Mercy Medical Center
1325 N. Highland Ave.
Aurora, IL 60506


Regional Director of Marketing:
Heather Gates
847-931-5518 / 630-801-2669

If you think this is ridculous, why not give Heather a jingle?


  1. not as slick as the actual flyer, but here it is...



  2. It's the paternalistic tone that assumes women are idiots that really gets me...

    Free gift!

    Fear mongering contrasted with condescending hand-holding...

    and appetizers!


    -JSM (again)

  3. I hate how this slick marketing campaign actually made me a bit nervous for a minute. Here I am, pregnant with my third at the ripe old age of 31...how could I not realize the risks?

  4. I agree that this kind of marketing is pretty condescending and a bit insulting, as if a woman over 30 can't make her own decision regarding starting her family and needs to be convinced of this by the hospital "machine" (of course, these classes are making them money and let's face it, birth rates are lower overall these days). However, I've known more than a couple of women who do have had trouble getting pregnant even in their mid-to-late 20s and some who didn't get married until their 30s, waited a few years to start trying, and couldn't conceive or barely conceived a "miracle baby" with fertility help. Not to mention all the toxins and endocrine/estrogen disruptors in our polluted environment. So all I'm saying is it's good to have awareness that our bodies aren't going to necessarily ovulate and reproduce on demand at whatever age we want. At the same time, there are never any guarantees that any of us will be able to have kids, even in our early 20s. By God's grace we were given ours, and I'll never take that for granted (although some days it's harder to appreciate!)

  5. I'm also in the minority of being done in my 20s, but even so, I'm outraged at their marketing scheme! How do they know that the women they're sending that to want children? Or what if they've sent it to a woman who tried for years and found out she couldn't have children? Pour a little salt in that wound why don't ya...

    (Sorry I'm a few months behind on commenting, I'm new to blogging, but I LOVE your blog!)