Posted by: Christa O’Rear
It all kinda hit me in a Walgreens pharmacy. I found myself trying on cheater glasses while waiting for my prescription of prenatals. What am I doing?!
The story didn’t start there, but this moment was one of many funny/not-so-funny moments on my journey to be a new mom at 44.
I never wanted kids until I married my second husband. For me, life was good. I traveled plenty, had freedom, a lucrative career, great family and friends. Really, nothing missing. Then I saw a picture of my second husband as a toddler. I thought, “I gotta make a kid that cute.”
So I was 42 and my husband 40, and we decided we’d try to make a family. Alas, my eggs were in wheelchairs. We spent about a year exploring adoption agencies; we learned domestic adoption of an infant would likely take a lot more time than going the international route. That being said, we didn’t qualify for certain countries like China due to either our age or my status as previously divorced. We did qualify for Ethiopia, but were required to make at least one 6-week visit, which simply wasn’t doable for us. Colombia accepted us for an older child, which was fine; but it was going to be a year process at best. Also, our background check expires after one year. So if the process crosses the one-year mark, we would have to go through the check again.
Adoption options for us meant no clear answers and no clear path. That would’ve been fine if we were younger. We simply didn’t have the luxury of time. The more I researched the more I realized that trying get pregnant was at least a more definitive option for us at the time, whatever that looks like. So we moved on to IVF.
Since my eggs were the problem, we decided to try IVF using an egg donor. Egg donor agencies are a whole other world! Luckily, our IVF office would thoroughly vet through any donor we chose. Vetting required the donor go through a physical exam, genetic testing, psychological testing, etc. The process is based on anonymity where the donors enter the IVF office through a separate reception area.
There are tons of donors through agencies, so we didn’t expect this to be a long process. But the first donor we picked fell through after she tested positive as a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis. Then we picked a second donor who disclosed during her interview that she had lied on her application.
We were very disappointed but never worried. Family and friends supported us unconditionally, and we strongly believed God was in control.
So on to #3. The IVF office had just vetted a new, first-time donor from their coffers. Not through an agency. All we knew of her was that she was married with 2 kids and was willing to go through an intense medical protocol over the Christmas holiday. She also had some of my features. That being said, I always understood that my child would not have my DNA and would likely resemble the donor, not me.
I will add that United Health Care covered all my personal procedures but not the costs associated with the donor.
After fertilization, we had to wait for the embryos reach the blastacyst stage. At that point they must be implanted as soon as possible. Five made it to that stage with two being most viable. So at 7:45am on a Sunday morning in January, two embryos were implanted in my 44-year-old uterus. One survived. We then had to decide what to do with the 3 remaining embryos. This decision weighed very heavy on us. We decided to donate them to educational programs for embryologists.
I was lucky to have a great pregnancy; boobs and hair were epic! But childbirth, an emergency c-section, and recovering from the c-section was another story…
As I have morphed into an ‘older mom,’ I realize having a young kid means having friends who are young millenial moms, some 20+ years younger than me. Sure they wear platform stilletos while I wear shoes with velcro straps. Their babies could be my grandbabies. They perfectly apply cat eyeliner while backing out of a driveway, while I can’t even see my makeup. But these friendships are so refreshing and wonderful all the same.
Now my daughter is 7. When I’m 60, she’ll be 16. My husband and I get tired, and maybe we are idiots. But we have never regretted going for it at our age. And will we tell our daughter about this journey? Of course.
If you think you’re out of time to start a family, I hope my story encourages you. The creation of a child takes millions of God’s miracles that science simply cannot replicate. But science has come a long way to help us out.
So here I am… a 52-year-old mom sitting in Car Rider line waiting to pick up my 2ndgrader. And yes, I’m probably the only parent here reading AARP magazine with my cheaters. But I’ve learned there are many benefits to being an older mom. It’s very clear to me that time is not on my side, so I have to live with intention now more than if I was younger. Seeing the wonder of our world through my daughter’s eyes helps me tap into my younger self. Life at my age just seems to pass faster now, so I must make it a point to pause and appreciate the small moments. This impatient person has actually learned to be patient and relish this exhausting, rewarding, awful, awesome, crazy road I’m on. And wine helps…