There are a variety of options for people whose “dream family” includes children. For some women, however, part of that journey is birthing that child themselves. Unfortunately, not everyone’s body cooperates. This is especially true for older women who are trying to conceive. After 10 years of trying, this woman finally had a baby at the age of 50. This is how she and her husband overcame the challenges of a “geriatric pregnancy”.
Couple Finally Has A Baby After 10 Years of Trying
Susie and Tom Troxler met and married later in life. The couple dreamed of having children of their own. Unfortunately, getting pregnant proved to be a much more difficult, much longer process than they originally thought it would be. At the time when they first started, Susie was 40 and Tom 51. Little did they know it would take them a decade to actually have a baby. (1)
“We didn’t even realize there was a fertility issue when we got married, because we were just doing the couple thing,” Susie said. “I was working, he was working, and we were just busy.”
Due to Susie’s age, what she and Tom were trying to achieve was considered a “geriatric pregnancy”. This classifies anyone having or trying to have a baby over the age of 35. If you are 35 or older and haven’t had kids yet, don’t let the term scare you. Doctors created this term a long time ago when, yes, having children later in life was a lot more challenging and involved a lot more risk. Today, however, more women in this age group than ever before have babies without issue. (2)
That being said, your risk for infertility does increase. The United States Department of Health and Human Services says a reported 9% of men and 11% of women will experience fertility issues. Susie says their doctors were always kind but up-front with them about the realities of trying to have a baby at their ages. After eight years of trying, Susie and Tom went to their OB-GYN to figure out what the issue was.
Their OB-GYN referred them to the Carolinas Fertility Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina. There, their doctor discovered that Susie had something called fibroids. The doctor also diagnosed Susie with endometriosis and found that Tom, too, had a medical issue that was also part of the problem. These were likely the reason why, despite IVF treatments, the embryos weren’t taking. She had surgery in 2019 to remove the fibroids, took the appropriate time to recover, then the couple began trying again.
“I had fibroid surgery January of 2019, went through the healing process, and then they collected egg after egg. I went through several rounds of egg retrieval and the insemination of eggs and none of it took. Nothing, nothing, nothing.” Susie recalled.
The couple then turned to egg donation. There were two viable embryos that were their last two chances. The first one didn’t take. Then finally, by some sort of miracle, the second one did.
“We weren’t waiting for our joy to happen once we had kids,” she explained. “We were in a place where if it turned out we never had children of our own, it would have been ok. We would not have liked it, but we would have been in a place of peace about it.”
Of course, the couple was overjoyed having finally succeeded at conceiving a child. On September 29, 2021, Susie and Tom became parents to a beautiful baby girl at the ages of 50 and 61, respectively.
“I don’t even have the words, it’s surreal,” Susie said. “I still can’t believe it. I spent so much time being me, first, and then being a wife. So now, this idea of being a mom is… it’s still a ‘wow’ for me.”
The Risks of Geriatric Pregnancy
Women have the same eggs from the time they are born. This means with every year past puberty, the eggs are older, too. Modern medicine allows people to give birth safely later in life, however, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without its risks. (3)
- premature birth
- low birth weight baby
- chromosomal defects
- labor complications
- cesarean section
- high blood pressure in the mother, which can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia, and an early birth for the baby
- gestational diabetes, which also increases the risk of diabetes later in life
That being said, there are benefits, as well. Typically, older women are more established and therefore have more resources available to them- aka higher incomes and more education. This means more stability for the child, healthier food, better access to healthcare, and the list goes on.
How To Have A Healthy Pregnancy At An Older Age
If you are 35+, don’t stress! You still have plenty of time to have a baby and a healthy pregnancy. Your age will not determine the health of your pregnancy, so regardless of your age, talk to your doctor if you are trying to conceive.
There are several steps you can take to support a healthy pregnancy, geriatric or otherwise:
- exercising regularly
- eating a healthy diet
- taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before conception, if possible
- getting down to an appropriate weight before pregnancy
- avoiding any substances, including drugs, smoking, and alcohol
If you are struggling to conceive, talk to your doctor about your options. Perhaps you and your partner will need to be examined for other conditions like the Troxler’s did. You may be a candidate for certain types of fertility treatments. If it’s looking like pregnancy really won’t be an option, you can talk to your doctor about other options to add children into your family.
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