I’ve been reading several articles lately in which Jennifer Aniston talks about feeling pressured to have a baby now that she is over 40. She indicates that she is not necessarily feeling any urgency (or maybe not even any desire) to start a family. If that is the case, she should not be trying to get pregnant and we shouldn’t want her to.
Having had my only child at the age of 45, I have found motherhood to be the most amazing, fantastic, wonderful experience of my life. I know other moms who wouldn’t necessarily say they feel that same way about becoming a mom. While motherhood was every fantastic thing I thought it would be and more, it is also easily a thousand times harder than I thought it would be. No exaggeration. This would have been as true with getting pregnant at 25 or 35 as it is with getting pregnant over 40.
Kids are hard. Babies cry. Sometimes constantly. Toddlers get into everything and require constant supervision. Pre-schoolers are testing their boundaries and can be infuriating and exasperating.
Kids are also wonderful and amazing. Babies are beautiful little souls who are learning with every word you speak to them, touch you give to them and song you sing to them. As moms, we have the privilege of helping these little folks grow into happy, productive wonderful children and adults. It’s an amazing opportunity. But it takes lots of time, love, and patience. “Having it all” is a myth if you want to do the best job you can rearing your children. I remember when I was working my way up the corporate ladder and one of my SVPs told me about his boss who was an Executive Vice President with 3 small children who regularly traveled for work while training for marathons and was “the greatest mom in the country”. I asked him when she had time to be a mom. Training for marathons takes tons of time. Working at any executive level position requires nearly constant time on e-mail and phone calls. When did she have time to be the “greatest mom in the country?” She didn’t and she wasn’t. Plain and simple. Anyone who thinks they can “have it all” and do it all really well is not being honest with themselves.
One of the big advantages of getting pregnant over 40 is that many women have already achieved career success and had the chance to do many of the things that younger women haven’t yet done. There is generally less a feeling of “sacrifice” and more an understanding of what is important to them in their lives when they decide to get pregnant. Not in every case, but in many cases.
Jennifer Aniston is being honest with herself about her life goals and the things that are important to her. She doesn’t have a burning desire for kids and that is working really well for her. Let’s give her a break and leave her alone. She is making the absolute right decision for her. We should all go through such a soul searching before we decide to have children, over 40 or not.
I just read about Amanda Peet having her third child at the age of 42. It wasn’t really billed as any big deal and that seems to be becoming the norm. In fact, I have been amazed at the number of over 40 moms I have met simply in daily life. No big deal. Just moms over 40.
The most amazing chance encounter I had was actually on my own culdesac! This happened almost two years ago. I had just bought my toddler daughter her first two wheeler (with training wheels) and we were giving it a test drive. It was a weekday and freezing outside but she was excited to try riding her new bike. A car with out-of -state plates pulled around the culdesac and I waved. The car stopped and I walked over. It was a mom and her little girl (about 2 years old) and they were house hunting. After we chatted for awhile, I gave the mom my card and told her to call me if she needed anything. About a week later, she called me and we talked for quite a while. We shared stories and it turned out that she actually gave birth at the age of 50! (She looked great and still does!) What are the odds of meeting an over 50 mom on my own street??
The moral of the story is that pregnancy over 40 is happening every day. Without fanfare or ooh and ahhh. Even pregnancy over 50. Keep the faith.
When should you throw in the towel and look for other options? How long is long enough to know that you aren’t going to conceive? I have had countless readers contact me with detailed information about their situations looking for hope and reassurance. Sometimes they have been looking to me to help them decide if they should stop trying to have a baby over 40. How does a woman make that decision?
I recently read that “over 90% of women over 40 need to use an egg donor.” I certainly don’t buy that. There are stories for decades about women over 40 who had babies (with their own eggs). I conceived twice at age 44 with my own eggs and personally know many women over 40 who did the same.
This isn’t to say that conception rates don’t go down over age 40 because they certainly do. And risks go up. That is a fact.
I also thoroughly believe in the power of visualization and positive energy and am certain it helped me conceive. So where does that leave us in trying to decide when to stop trying?
Each woman knows in her heart when it is time to stop. My friend, Sharon Simons (www.momatlast.com) had a heartbreaking and life-threatening miscarriage of her twin boys in her second trimester and decided it was time to start focusing on adoption rather than conception. She knew that was right for her. Now she has 2 beautiful boys that she adopted in Russia. I tried to have a second child but ran into problem after problem. For me, it wasn’t as heart wrenching as it would have been the first time because I have my beautiful daughter. It was still hard. Very hard.
As many of you know, I believe strongly in the philosophy of having no regrets and I think that is where the decision to stop or keep going lies. These are some of the questions I have asked myself and I think it’s a good place for many women to start as they consider moving forward with trying to conceive or moving in another direction.
- Is the pain of going forward and the risk of heartache stronger than the risk of regretting not continuing to try?
- Do I have a deep knowing inside that one decision is the right one?
- Can I live with the consequences of my decision (emotional, physical or financial)?
It is also very important to remember that there are other options for having a child besides conceiving and delivering that child yourself. We routinely read about women (like Nicole Kidman, Giuliana Rancic and Martha Stewart’s daughter) having their biological children via surrogate There is also egg donation and adoption. I have found that very few things are impossible in life. However, sometimes life does require us to look at a situation creatively to make it happen. When I was in the corporate world, I used to ask my teams to come up with 5 solutions to a particularly difficult problem. Some of the 5 might be outrageous, but the process of thinking creatively almost always got us to a good result. I believe the same applies here.
I wish every woman the joy of having their own baby; and send love, hope and peace to every woman trying no matter what road she winds up traveling.
If you are a woman considering having your first baby over the age of 40, you are in good company. Getting pregnant over 40 is more common now than ever. While the risks are higher than when you were in your 20's, many women over the age of 35, 40 or even 45 are fertile and having healthy babies every day. (See the March of Dimes statistics on moms over 35.)
According to the CDC, women over 40 are the only group with increasing birth rates. Pew Research (read the article) reports that, "in 1990, there were more births to teenagers than to women ages 35 and older. By 2008, that had reversed -- 14% of births were to older women and 10% were to teens. Births to women ages 35 and older grew 64% between 1990 and 2008, increasing in all major race and ethnic groups.” One in five women in America has their first child at age 35 or older. The numbers of mothers with a first time pregnancy over 40 are growing steadily. As a group, we generally have higher incomes and higher levels of education. We have achieved career success and lived full lives but realize that something is missing. I designed this site because I was 44 and thought it was too late to have a baby. I searched for information to help me through the process and couldn't find a site that specifically related to me. So I designed this site to help other women in my situation. My goal is to provide an informative place for women trying to get pregnant over 40 to go throughout their pregnancy process to learn, share information, and get support.
Fertility with age has challenges. I have included both technical and very honest practical information including common fertility and infertility tests ordered for women over 35 and things you should know, but might not have heard, about recovering from labor with pregnancy after 40. Where expert information is available, I have provided links to that information rather than re-creating the wheel. I hope you find the information helpful and welcome your feedback on topics not listed that you would like to learn more about.
I left a career as a corporate executive to focus on getting pregnant over 40. I am now 45 years old with a healthy little infant daughter and considering having a second child! Giving birth to my daughter has enriched my life tremendously and changed me in ways I couldn't have imagined. In "What it Took for me to Finally Get Pregnant", I share what it took for me to get my precious daughter. Iam hopeful that this site helps provide support for other women over 40 who long to have a baby of their own. I learned so much through this amazing journey of infertility and fertility and hope my story and the information on this site will help other women. Good luck and blessings!!
All my best,