‘Midlife moms’ seek more respect from society

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Mrs. Simons went through IVF before turning to adoption. When they brought home their two sons from Russia, she was 42.

There were so many dark days on the way to parenthood, said Mrs. Simons, who is writing a memoir about her experiences. After losing the twins, “you can go either way — get depressed or you can be more determined” to have a child, she said. “And I think it made me more determined, to know that that was what I wanted — to be a mom. I was going to figure it out one way or another.”

Deborah Lynn, founder of over35newmoms.com, also faced an unexpected crossroads in life.

A professional with an enjoyable but stressful job, she was happily married for more than a decade. When the couple began trying to have a child and it didn’t happen, cracks appeared in their marriage and they ended up divorcing.

It wasn’t long before Mrs. Lynn turned 44 and realized that her lifelong dream of “being married to my best friend and having two kids” was just not happening.

“So I basically walked away from that career to focus on having a baby,” she said.

The path to motherhood included visits to a sperm bank and a miscarriage, but she gave birth to her daughter when she was 45.

She said she “got nothing but support” from those around her, but “I know [my course] is not the norm.” She added that she is preparing for the day when she tells her daughter about her conception.

“Baby bumps” among mature women, are, of course, catnip to tabloids and celebrity magazines.

Among the famous women who had children long after their nubile years are Halle Berry (daughter at age 41), Mariah Carey (twins at age 41), Jane Seymour (twins at age 44), Marcia Cross (twins at age 44), Christie Brinkley (daughter at age 44), Susan Sarandon (son at age 45), Holly Hunter (twins at age 47) and Geena Davis (twins at age 48).

Other front-page births were Cheryl Tiegs’ twins at age 52 (via a surrogate), Joan Lunden’s two sets of twins (at ages 52 and 54, with a surrogate), and Elizabeth Edwards, who had unspecified fertility treatments to have a daughter at age 48 and a son at 50.

But hundreds of thousands of women have late-in-life childbirths that do not make the tabloids. In 2009, more than 105,000 babies were born to women ages 40 to 44, and almost 8,000 more were born to women ages 45 to 54. More than half of these children were first- or second-borns.

Many of these births, especially after age 45, involve egg donation, a scary subject for many women, said Marna Gatlin, who struggled with infertility for more than 15 years before having a child via egg donation.

When Ms. Gatlin and her husband went through the donation process 11 years ago, “it was so in the closet, it was deemed as something out of ‘Star Trek.’ Very science fiction.”

She later started a nonprofit group, Parents Via Egg Donation, to provide up-to-date information and support about the process. For instance, she said, the window for natural conception is still slightly open between ages 40 and 45. “But once you pass the age of 45 — it’s kind of like that’s the magic age. Not many women get pregnant with their own eggs after age 45.”

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