Older Moms: Issues Beyond Pregnancy

Today's technology enables women in their 40s and 50s to get pregnant and give birth.

But after that, things can get harder, so the cons as well as the pros of giving birth later in life must be considered when deciding whether to even try, reports The Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith in the first of a three-part series, "Not Your Mother's Mother."

Women today have a lot more options and questions than their mothers did about when and how to have a baby, Smith says.

"Not Your Mother's Mother" looks at questions faced by modern moms.

First: How old is too old to attempt to get pregnant?

A recent study of women 50- to 63-years-old, a small group of women who used assisted reproduction, found age is no longer a barrier to getting pregnant, Smith says. Still, older women are at increased risk for diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

And, as moms of any age will tell you, getting pregnant may be the easy part.

Marilyn McReavy always wanted to have children, Smith says. There were just a few things she wanted to do first. At 23, when many of her peers were starting families, McReavy won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics as a member of the United States women's volleyball team. In the years that followed, McReavy went on to become one of the winningest college volleyball coaches in history.

But marriage, and motherhood, eluded her — until she met the love of her life.

Randy Nolen was a Navy chaplain and is six years younger. When they got married in 1988, McReavy was already in her 40s, but they still wanted to have kids.

For the next 10 years, they tried everything to get pregnant, with no luck.

Marilyn Nolen had run out of options, Smith says. She couldn't conceive naturally. Every treatment she had tried, had failed. When she asked if she could adopt, she was told she was too old.

If Marilyn wanted a family of her own, she needed a medical miracle — and she found one in Santa Monica, Calif.

At the University of Southern California, Dr. Richard Paulson runs a program that makes motherhood possible for women over 40 — even 50 and older.

You can get pregnant at such ages, Dr. Paulson says, but it's "not going to be your egg. But you can be pregnant and have a completely normal pregnancy, normal delivery and, in fact, even breast feed."

Marilyn was 55 when she underwent Dr. Paulson's procedure, and got pregnant on the first try.

On Oct. 22, 2000, twin boys Travis and Ryan were born, a minute apart.