- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2011

That mature lady sitting on the playground bench beaming at her toddler may have some gray hair, but don’t call her “grandma.” She may well be a member of America’s fastest-growing fertility group: mothers 40 and older.

And if she is one of these “midlife moms,” she would appreciate a little more respect.

No observer, for instance, can know what Kelli Suchy and her husband went through to become parents.

“It wasn’t a choice on my part” to marry at 39, endure six in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, lose two pregnancies, and then finally adopt at age 45, said Mrs. Suchy, founder of parentingbyadoption.com.

Angel La Liberte, who entered “babyland” when she was 41 and again at age 44, created FlowerPowerMom.com to “tell the truth about motherhood after 40.”

This Mother’s Day, Mrs. La Liberte and others are launching an online campaign to build support for older mothers and jettison phrases such as “advanced maternal age” and “geriatric pregnancy.”

“We need to change the way we talk to older mothers,” said Mary Govaars, who suffered three pregnancy losses on her way to motherhood at age 36 and 41, and who designed a “Mother’s Wish” pendant for the campaign.

“We are the ‘mommy boom’ group, but we are getting such a raw deal from our culture,” Mrs. La Liberte said. Older mothers are often “made to feel ashamed of the journeys that they are on.” They have to hide the fact that they had IVF, or used an egg or sperm donor, or that they turned to adoption after pregnancy attempts failed.

These women are not selfish or absent-minded. “No woman forgets to have a baby,” Ms. La Liberte said.

Instead, she said, women born in the 1960s, like herself, became part of an American social experiment that told them to pursue education and careers first.

“When I was in my 20s,” everyone thought “the idea of getting married and settling down right away was basically foolish,” said Mrs. La Liberte, who married in her late 30s.

There was a new social script for us, and “I think we are the ‘test generation’ for that,” she said.

Female fertility, alas, has not always cooperated, and no one knows this more than midlife moms.

“I met my husband at age 39 and married at 40,” and immediately began trying to have a baby, said Sharon Simons, founder of momatlast.com.

The couple rejoiced when she became pregnant with twins, but agonized when she lost them both at 19 weeks of gestation — and nearly died herself.

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