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She’s Having a Baby … After 40!


Kathleen M. Berchelmann, MD - published on 08/26/14

Meet some post-40 moms who were ecstatic to be having babies even in their 40's.

Recently I attended a delivery of a baby  born to a mother who was almost 50 years old. I did a double-take when I saw her age on the chart—this was the oldest mother I had ever seen deliver. Her baby, who had Down Syndrome, seemed like a miracle to her.  

These are the stories of three other women who conceived babies after age 40—three other women ecstatic to conceive so late in life.

A woman’s chances of conception start to fall around age 25, and by age 45 healthy women without known infertility have only about a 5% chance of becoming pregnant. The risks associated with late-in-life pregnancy are significant for both mother and child. Yet the women I spoke with all seemed very willing to accept these risks. Here are their stories of loss, sacrifice, and joy.  

Lilli, conceived at age 46 (delivered at 47)
With a history of six miscarriages including three after age 40, Lilli and her husband were no strangers to loss. She delivered her last miscarried baby at home, a perfectly formed tiny human she was able to see, hold, and grieve with her husband and four living children. They named him and had a private family funeral. The likelihood of another child seemed bleak. And so they opened their home to two foster children, brothers, both with special needs.

And then those foster children also left their home, leaving another sense of emptiness, another hurt, another loss. Just days later Lilli conceived, naturally, without the aid of infertility treatments.  She was 46. This was an unexpected joy. Her whole family was starting to heal.  

There were no shortage of medical concerns. Lilli had to address her gluten sensitivity and make big changes to her diet. She had to get healthy quickly. And it worked–she had a healthy pregnancy, healthy natural delivery, and healthy baby, all at the age of 47.

Her oldest child was already 14 years old, and there with friends who were busy taking selfies and acting like self-centered teens. But her oldest was taking care of a baby, more focused on selflessness than selfies. “Love never divides,” Lilli said, “It only multiplies.”  

Mary, conceived at age 44 (delivered at 45)

“I nearly died with my 4th baby due to high blood pressure. I saw a specialist, one of the best doctors in Boston, and he told me never to get pregnant again, because if I did it could be fatal to both me and the baby.” Then, she found out she was pregnant at age 45. “My doctor told me I was the oldest patient in his practice.” But he supported Mary 100%, never criticising her for choosing to carry her baby. He warned Mary to anticipate months of bedrest, but fortunately she had only one week of bedrest before she delivered a very healthy baby boy after an easy labor.
and delivery.  

“The amazing thing was that I was really healthy through my 5th pregnancy. I had more problems with my other pregnancies when I was younger.”

Mary is now 54, with an 8-year-old. “I’m much more relaxed now, as a mom.” She says she doesn’t feel very old–she has to think about her age, even though her oldest is 24 and she is a grandmother. “A lot of women my age are all done with children. Having children keeps me young and active. I’m less focused on myself, less selfish.”

Nancy, conceived at age 41
Nancy’s friends didn’t really believe that she had infertility, she had four healthy children. Yet she hadn’t conceived in nearly 7 years despite a happy marriage and the absence of birth control.

And then, at 39, she naturally conceived her fifth child. And again, to her delight, she conceived her sixth child at age 41, also without the aid of infertility treatment.  

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