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Mid-Life Moms, Part 2

In part one of "mid-life mom," we talked about why women were electing to have babies later in life. In the second part of "mid-life mom" series, reporter Laurie Hibberd takes a look at how technology has made it possible for women over 45 to give birth.


You may think having a baby at 45 is an impossible feat, but science has created options that stretched a woman's child-bearing years, like egg donation, which has made giving birth a reality for many mid-life moms.


Ira Drescher is a happy man. He and his wife Carol Reiner are the proud parents of Daryn, who's two and a half, and Sam, who's five. The only family member whose age might surprise you is their mom, Carol: She is 51.


Even though Carol carried each baby to term and had them through natural childbirth methods, she didn't exactly get pregnant the old fashioned way.


"We didn't really try per se, because I was, you know, post-menopausal at that point, and I knew that I couldn't have my own children," says Carol. "I think that I would always have felt that there was something missing in my life, and that I would have always regretted the fact that I never had children. So this opportunity to have a child, you know, via egg donation was just a miracle, really."


The increasing number of women over 45 who want to have babies makes this miracle much more common then it was even a decade ago. Dr. Zev Rosenwaks is an infertility specialist at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. "At 45, the chance that a woman will become pregnant with her own egg is negligible," says Rosenwaks. "It's certainly less than three percent. So at 45, she must use, for the most part, another woman's egg."


Egg donation might sound new, but it's really in vitro fertilization--conception outside the womb--and that's been around for a while. But now women are using eggs other than their own to have a child. The egg is retrieved from a donor, fertilized with sperm, and planted in the uterus of the mother-to-be. Because the eggs are from women considerably younger than the mother, the chance of a successful pregnancy for the older mom is very high.


"The success rate in good clinics should exceed 50 percent delivery rate per procedure," says Rosenwaks. "Meaning that better than 50 percent of the women that come for the first time will have a baby as a result of that single first procedure."


There's a great increase in mid life births, reinforced by a recent rush of older celebrity moms. But among women overall, there seems to be a great reluctance to talk about the role of egg donation.


"I think it's always better when one comes out with the truth," says Rosenwaks. "I think that there is a disservice done to the public when one becomes pregnant with someone else's egg and conveys the fact that it is their own."


A woman may choose not to divulge that egg donation was responsible for their child's birth because it then raises the issue of how, and if, they should tell thei children about this "miracle" of their birth. Patricia Mendell is a psychotherapist who helps couples deal with this issue.


"I think most children, all they really need to hear in the beginning is, you know, 'mommy and daddy needed help,''" says Mendell. "Then the next step you can move on to the egg and the sperm and that the doctor helped you get an egg."


For Carol and Ira, their decision to tell Sam where he came from was right on target. It turns out that Sam loves the story so much that he tells just about anybody he can.

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