Good News, Too
By Marilyn C. Hilton

We hear the news. It quickens our pulse, quivers our stomach, and makes us feel that the world has fallen off its axis. Women who delay having a child until midlife (we hear), when their careers are cruising or their marriages are rock-solid, may have already missed their opportunity to conceive.

As if we all live textbook lives in which we marry at 23, have our first, second, and third (and maybe fourth or more) babies at peak fertility. Our husband, if we have one, makes enough money to support this burgeoning family so that we don¹t need (or want) to work outside our home. Or we somehow manage to build a thriving career and raise the children as we¹d always envisioned. Then we can enjoy grandparenthood at 50 and a vigorous retirement sometime after that. It¹s a wonderful life, to be sure.

Like many boomer women and men, I was a late bloomer. After years of getting educated, traveling, moving, working, and loving being single, I didn¹t meet my dreamboat until I was 35. Because he was six years younger and wasn¹t in any hurry to get married, I was nearly 38 before we shared wedding cake. Although we wanted to have three children, neither of us panicked about waning fertility. Not until I had my first miscarriage six months later.

When it happened, not only did I feel the grief of losing a child (who¹d existed as genuinely as if he or she had been in my arms), self-doubt shrouded my heart. The worry and anxiety of conceiving and carrying a child consumed me. The beginning of every month brought rising hope ("This will be Baby Month."), but each resulting menstrual period dragged me into the abyss. After six months, however, we were mercifully pregnant again. This time cautiously, gratefully, and humbly pregnant with a daughter. I was 39.

Our second child was conceived after a month of taking Clomid (to stimulate ovulation); although my husband and I had investigated adoption and completed California¹s foster-adoption program before we discovered we were pregnant. I was 41 when our second daughter was born.

After another miscarriage while trying to conceive our third, we saw an infertility specialist. After three months of injections, ultrasounds, waiting and weeping -- and on the verge of moving to the next step (in vitro fertilization) -- we decided that enough was enough. (How did other couples do this for months on end, we wondered.) Our two healthy, lovely daughters would complete our family.

Then, months later, I discovered in joyful shock that I was pregnant without even trying. Our third child, a son, was born when I was 43 years old.

Contrary to recent news, getting pregnant and having healthy babies happens more regularly and naturally than we might hear. (My 41-year-old friend just announced the impending arrival of her first, conceived in the old-fashioned way after being told years ago by specialists to stop hoping.)

We hope you find insight and inspiration in two new articles on this site,"Over 45 and Pregnant -- What Will People Think?" and "Coping with Midlife Infertility: An Interview with Expert Ann Douglas", which address the challenges of midlife pregnancy
and midlife infertility.

Don¹t forget to write and tell us if these articles were helpful to you. And remember to let us know what other topics you¹d like to see on this site.

Marilyn Hilton, Section Editor

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