My Geriatric Pregnancy: A Wild Ride


geriatric pregnancy des moines moms blog

In terms of fertility, I have been all over the place. From an unexpected pregnancy only a few months after my wedding to a disappointing miscarriage after our firstborn, followed by years of trying in vain for another child, it’s been a wild ride.  

Thanks to the fabulous physicians at Mid Iowa Fertility, I had my second daughter almost five years after her older sister. Then, without any help and certainly with no planning, my son arrived three years later. My husband and I felt that our family was complete.  

Enter pediatric cancer. My son became so very sick, and our family went into survival mode. Discussions about permanent birth control were the furthest thing from our minds.

Fast forward to November of last year, when a young student pointed at my belly exclaiming, “You’re going to have a baby!”

Although the remaining baby pooch I still carry years after my three beautiful pregnancies was the likely cause of her confusion, a quick calendar check made it difficult for me to dismiss her accusation entirely.   

A trip to Target on the way home from work for a double pack of early pregnancy tests and a rare moment of privacy in our master bathroom revealed that she was, in fact, correct.  

I was pregnant.  

I AM pregnant.  

And 39.  

And my oldest is 12. And my youngest is 4. And I already have three kids. And I work full time. And I just sold all my baby stuff at a garage sale. And I just started getting into better shape.  

And…wait, I had another pregnancy test right?

The second pregnancy test revealed the same result.

My husband sat stunned on the couch with his hands between his legs, shaking his head and emitting a bit of nervous laughter after I shared the news.  

Because he’s a good-hearted man, he smiled at me and said, “Well at least we make adorable children.”  

After a very long discussion about car seats, bedroom assignments, furniture distribution, vehicle preparedness, and some disturbing mathematical realities (my oldest will be a senior in high school when this babe starts kindergarten), we felt exhausted.

Indulging my kids’ every screen-time whim and putting the burden of milk refills and nighttime routines completely on my husband, I allowed myself to attend to my inner dialogue. It went something like this:

“How are you going to manage this?”

“What will your friends think?”

“Wait, aren’t older mothers more likely to have multiples?”

“Oh, and chromosomal disorders as well, right???”

“My goodness, could this family weather another serious medical situation?”

“You are going to gain all your weight back, and then some!”  

“My stomach hurts.”  

“Oh gosh, probably because I’m pregnant!”   

Out of desperation, I texted a few of my besties and spilled the beans embarrassingly early.  

To my complete surprise, after the obligatory OMG comments, they were both thrilled! Thrilled, encouraging, supportive, and excited.  

geriatric pregnancy des moines moms blogI felt so guilty about my stupid inner dialogue. Because, darn it, I know better. I know what it’s like to watch your friends get pregnant and be left wanting. I know what it’s like to enter an infertility clinic with nothing but insufficient insurance coverage and a dream of a pregnancy. And I know what it’s like to watch a pregnancy slip away far too soon.

Yes, I’m having a geriatric pregnancy (actually, they call it advanced maternal age now). Yes, we have no more baby stuff. Yes, I will likely one of the older moms at kindergarten round up, and yes, I might even have another health issue to manage. 

But I get to be pregnant – a privilege denied to far too many well-deserving women.  

I get to have another chance at savoring the precious moments of babyhood, moments that pediatric cancer ripped away from me with my son. Plus, I get to do it all again with the knowledge and wisdom that comes with age. I get to be excited, if I can turn off my useless doubts and concerns.    

But I’m a only human, so it’s not so simple to flip that switch.

I waffle from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.  

Filled with joy when I see the grins on my parents’ and parents-in-laws’ faces as they hear the news, overwhelmed when I write the monthly check for my son’s preschool knowing the total will double next year.

Terrified when I go in for the early ultrasound looking for indicators of chromosomal disorders, uncomfortable when I choose to reveal the news to a few precious friends who have never been able to become pregnant, and pretty much extremely exhausted in-between.  

My fertility continues to be a wild ride.  

Has anyone else had a baby in their late 30s?


  1. LOVE!!!

    Our first son was a surprise during my freshman year of college, our second another wanted and planned rainbow baby after an 11 week miscarriage… and than the wait. We waited 12 years before we had our next…life was busy, we never felt ready and than after losing my beloved mother in law we decided to wait no more!! We currently have three boys ages 15, 12 and 9months and he will probably need to be a big brother too since our older boys will be out of the house or close to it before kindergarten begins. Your story brought tears to my eyes mama!! Congratulations on your new addition.

  2. I could have written the article. Even the pediatric cancer…and now sit here with my nursing 2 week old baby wondering why I was so worried during the pregnancy. My kids 13, 11,and 8 are all in love with the baby as am I and her dad. Yes I’m 40, yes it was different this time. I still have worries but this little one I was in trusted with is perfect in every way!

    • Congratulations on your new baby! I am never happy to find another momcologist, I’m sorry that you have had an experience with pediatric cancer. Thank you for adding your perspective, can’t wait until I have a two week old.

  3. It’s a crazy, wild ride we’re on! My husband and I have really struggled with infertility and I’m 39, he’s 42. Here’s to hoping for a miracle! Bless you for sharing your heart with us!

  4. As I type this, my spunky 10 month old is playing on my office floor. I am gulping down my second cup of coffee. And I’ll be 38 this year. My older two (ages 9 and 7) are busy getting their school work out for the day. Life is very full, and I feel so blessed, albeit overwhelmed at times. We had always wanted more children, but had felt the opportunity was past when this one showed up. (I like to say that he is late to the party.) I had the same thoughts when I first learned I was pregnant again. But then I felt the weight of the gift – another chance to hold a baby, to rock a baby, to watch first steps and hear first words. Would I welcome the gift for what it was, a precious opportunity? Or would I waste my days with worry and fear? I chose to live with expectant joy. My older children adore this baby and would miss so many wonderful opportunities to learn about love and sacrifice if he weren’t here. I’m so glad. Blessings on your journey, mama. You and God have got this!

    • I love the idea of living with expectant joy. I am going to try to focus on that joy for the next 20 weeks. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. I was 38 with our first. We tried and prayed for a second child but gave up due to my age. Then on my 42nd birthday I received the best present ever! Our second child was born 3 months before my 43rd birthday. Such a blessing to have the opportunity to raise two healthy boys!!

  6. I was in my 19 when I had my oldest child and had two more after that. I thought I was done then when those children became adults and had families of their own. I had my youngest child, who is now 6 yrs old, when I was 44. It may seem a little odd to others who meet your child and learn that they have adult siblings but most people find it adorable. I worried about the age thing for a while and then just chose to make my pregnancy as healthy as possible and when my son was born, I did everything to ensure him a healthy start in life. I breastfed him until he was almost a year old, we co-slept safely with a side car, and I wore him in a wrap as often as I could to still be able to cook and clean house while taking care of him. It works. You may just have to find your own rhythm of things.

  7. Gotta love the AMA/Geriatric label…we have been together a long time…since 21 and never got pregnant but never really tried. Then when I was 34 all of a sudden I got pregnant?!? That pregnancy did not make it past 20 weeks which was a terrible loss. I wondered if/when it would happen again.

    A year later I had our daughter, four months after she was born, I was pregnant again…Irish Twins! Now I am expecting another girl, so in my late 30’s I have found out that I am extremely fertile having kids born at age 36, 37 and 38.

    I feel lucky to be able to have children now in my “geriatric” years and I feel I wasn’t ready to be a mom until now. I also heard that women who have kids later live longer!

  8. I had my first baby naturally at 39. It was a fairly uneventful pregnancy with all tests and signs pointing to a healthy baby. I had a super easy natural birth (very very short!) and recovered very quickly, probably an easier pregnancy and delivery than people much younger. You never know what to expect. 🙂

  9. My mom had me when she was 45 and my dad was 47 in 1985 when it wasn’t as common I guess? (not sure on those statistics) Doctors told her she couldn’t have children (after having my sister at age 34 and multiple miscarriages) and that it would be dangerous to her health besides. And yet, surprise! Here I am! I was 8 weeks early, and she was in the hospital on bedrest even before that, but made it through the recovery really well, and apparently so did I. She passed away from ovarian cancer when I was 13, but my dad is still going strong. They always said having me to chase after kept them young. 🙂

  10. Geriatric?!?! I’ve never heard that term applied to a pregnancy! Let’s don’t get that vocabulary started if that was once a thing. I was pregnant at 39 and 41.

    • I think it’s a very dated term. My midwife only uses the phrase “Advanced Maternal Age” at my appointments. I remember hearing Halle Berry refer to herself as having a geriatric pregnancy in an interview once. I thought the term was so funny because the two words together create an oxymoron in my mind. When I was googling the term, one website satirically stated that they changed it to AMA after probably being verbally and physically assultued by hormonal mom’s-to-be. So I agree. It’s a term that should not return. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story!

  11. Had our first at 32; our second at 40. Families come in so many shapes, sizes and circumstances these days. All that really matters is health, love and gratitude…the rest takes care of itself. Congratulations!!

    • Thank you for reminding me that we are not alone in having a spaced out family. You are so right about health, love, and gratitude! Thank you for sharing!

  12. I had my only child at 40. The pregnancy required a little extra monitoring but that was all. Once she was born I was so busy taking care of her I thought I was just like other new moms. (I had the privilege of staying home with her so the exhaustion was less of an issue.) For me, the age difference became noticeable when she was around 4. My girlfriends all had teenagers getting summer jobs. I said “Oh… I’m teaching L how to say her order at a restaurant.” My friends would comment about which colleges their kids were applying to. My response was that I was registering L for kindergarten…
    Initially, this was messing with my brain a little. But I realized that nothing has really changed. I have been friends with all of them for 15+ years. We have experienced/endured everything from marriage to the births of our children to divorce to the deaths of parents. I met my husband later in life so I was the last one to marry and then have a baby. But that doesn’t change our friendship. Now I get to remind them of the “good old days” and they remind me of what I have to look forward to.

    • What a great perspective! I like that you add to your friendships by reminding them of the joys of having a younger child and they enhance your experience by giving you a glimpse of the future. This will be a fun new dynamic for me in my friendships as well. Thank you so much for sharing!

  13. My oldest son turned 18 the day after my second was born! I had been told I’d never get pregnant again. I was 36 with the 2nd, 39 when my 3rd came along (after having been told it was a fluke and would never happen again). I was 42 with my last-my now 4 year old. You’ve got this! The geriatric mom gig is a pretty sweet deal. Best wishes to you

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement! The very best part about writing this post was realizing that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing your story with me. You are so right, it’s a sweet deal!

  14. What a wild ride! After 7 years of infertility we welcomed a baby boy who is now 13 months I was just 42 when he was born. I belong to a few Mom’s groups and one that is over 40 and are about 1000 older mom’s so you are not alone. It’s pretty common in San Francisco. I have a friend who had her first at 27 and second at 43. Her daughter helps so much with her son. I wish I could have done it different but that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned! Your children are all blessings!

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me! I am thankful to have older siblings that have been such great help and make having a new baby so much easier.

  15. Thank you so much for the encouragement! The very best part about writing this post was realizing that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing your story with me. You are so right, it’s a sweet deal!

  16. Yes I had my first child at 35. I would love another however I am 39 and often feel discouraged. Thank you for the inspiration!!!

  17. We had our 4th surprise baby Feb. 1st 2017, I was 38 yrs old. We now have a 13 yr old, 10 yr old and 5 yr old and now a 1 yr old. I was so worried about my age that I let it consume me throughout my pregnancy. There was a lot of extra testing, ultra sounds but I was thankful to have those. She was born without complications and for that I am so thankful. Looking back I would not change a thing. She completed this crazy family of 6! Yes, I will be the older mom, but that is ok. Maybe older but I will have a lot of experience ? Best wishes to you!

    • Oh goodness, our families are almost the exact same! My second is 8 but otherwise the same. I agree with you, our surprise baby completed our family and I cannot imagine life without him. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  18. Congratulations on your blessing! No matter your age, you are blessed and it will work out fine! Just have to share my favorite pregnancy story – I was 35 and pregnant with #3. I opted to have the amnio test and the report came in the mail. On the cover it said my name: Mother is AMA. I was sure that meant something horrible – I had some disease or genetic diagnosis. I called my gyno to express my fears and the nurse laughed out loud! Said all I really had was WISDOM because AMA = advanced maternal age. Enjoy your wisdom!


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