Since May is Mothering Month, I intend to post a diverse array of articles over the next two weeks by, about and for mothers.
Motherhood: Pregnancy over 50 – Part 1
by Cyma Shapiro
I’m a little enamored of a Wikipedia category called “Pregnancy Over 50.” In it, it provides a historical timetable of women who gave birth over the age of 50. Women like Elizabeth Greenhill, born in 1615, who had 39 children with her husband William Greenhill, and gave birth to her last child (naturally) in 1669 at age 54, with London surgeon Thomas Greenhill. She is the first woman noted in this lengthy list.
In 1996, Judy Bershak, of Los Angeles, gave birth to her first child at the age of 50. Bershak got married at the age of 44, and after failing to both conceive naturally and adopt, she went through IVF treatment and became pregnant on her first attempt. In 2000, Elizabeth Edwards, 50, wife of the former U.S. Senator John Edwards, gave birth to a son in 2000. And in 2010, Karen Johnston, from England, gave birth to twins at the age of 54 after undergoing IVF in the Czech Republic. All of these women fall under the 50-54 category.
In the 55-59 category, a 57-year-old Indian woman gave birth (with IVF) in Melbourne, in 2010, setting a record to become the oldest mother in Australia.
In the 60-64 category, Arceli Keh, of California, gave birth to a daughter in 1996, at the age of 63. In 2010, Bulgarian psychiatrist Krasimira Dimitrova, 62, gave birth to female twins, also using IVF. Dimitrova decided to become pregnant after she was refused the option of adoption because of her age.
In the 65-66 category (why they’d have a category for one year confounds me), in 1999, Harriet Stole, 66, from North London, gave birth to a son, after agreeing to be a surrogate mother for her infertile daughter in-law. One year later, Jennifer Hong, age 65, gave birth to her second child, in Canada. Becoming a mother later in life, she is quoted as saying, “It doesn’t matter how old you are. It just matters that I have a family which I love.”
Finally, in the 67-70 category, Wikipedia lists only two women, both of whom accomplished the same achievement in the same year. In 2008, Omkari Panwar gave birth to twins in India via emergency cesarean section at the age of 70. Omkari became pregnant through IVF treatment, which she and her husband pursued in order to produce a male heir. Omkari has two adult daughters and five grandchildren. In response to hearing that she’d possibly broken the record for world’s oldest mother, Omkari stated, “If I am the world’s oldest mother it means nothing to me. I just want to see my new babies and care for them while I am still able.”
Also, Rajo Devi Lohan gave birth to a daughter at the age of 70. Lohan’s health deteriorated soon after and she claimed she had not been informed of any dangers. Her doctor said, “Even though Rajo’s health is deteriorating, at least she will die in peace. She does not have to face the stigma of being barren.”
In total, nearly 100 women are listed in this Wikipedia article – a mere fraction of the real total throughout the world. In fact, since I’ve interviewed a few of the women listed here, I know that some of the dates and facts are incomplete. Nevertheless, this list remains a “Who’s Who” of pioneers and women from around the world who broke barriers and cultural traditions, simply by having children. (Remember, too, that this group doesn’t count any later-age women who have chosen to adopt/foster/guardian children). While this list is intended to inform and educate, it reads like a List of Champions – world record-holders who must surely have received some medal(s), as they unintentionally topped one another. I fear not…
Tomorrow: Motherhood: Pregnancy over 50 – Part 2
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult her at: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to email@example.com.