It’s hard to believe that in my late 40’s I am pregnant. When I discovered my pregnancy, I did what most new pregnant mothers do, searched the internet for advice. I wasn’t searching for the latest in technologies, I was searching for stories about natural pregnancy at age 47.
Unfortunately, most resources on the internet will tell you that natural pregnancy at age 47 is nearly impossible. There is no hope given for a pregnancy beyond age 45. To be honest, it’s hard to find any hope given for natural pregnancy over the age 40. Nearly every website says women this old can only hope to achieve pregnancy through the use of IVF or surrogacy. Even worse, the internet scares you into believing that any baby conceived naturally over the age of 40 will have severe disabilities or genetic problems.
I never found any stories about natural pregnancy at age 47. It was extremely disheartening because I just wanted a tiny bit of hope. None was to be found. Because it’s hard to find any stories of natural pregnancy at age 47, I want to share my story. I know my story doesn’t end in a positive. For someone who is desiring a natural pregnancy at age 47, they want to hear the success story. I wish mine was a success.
First, natural pregnancy at age 47 results in massive amounts of discrimination as well as the pressure of abortion. Even natural pregnancy over 40 is met with discrimination and abortion recommendations. I can’t count how many times abortion was recommended to me at age 42! This tends to only occur with natural pregnancy, not surrogacy or IVF. I’m speculating the reason is due to the DNA selection of these designer or unnaturally created babies. My pregnancy was very short, yet there was still discrimination.
It’s important to remind readers that I experienced infertility until I was 38 years old. I was married at age 22 but didn’t bring home my first baby until age 28. I didn’t even experience a miscarriage while trying to conceive so my first baby was really my first baby. Then nothing for six more years. My second pregnancy resulted in the loss of Ruby Josephine. After my third successful pregnancy, I became fertile. It’s been quite a ride.
My near-death experience following the birth of my 3rd child (fifth pregnancy), led to a path of NFP and abstinence. After several years and much discernment during that time with our priest, things began to change. It seemed my husband and I were now being led to hand over every aspect of our fertility to God. Yes, we are to leave everything up to God but God gave us reason. He also expects us to use it. We’ve done this before; which resulted in our 3rd living child. God could intervene in our lives at any time and we could still conceive if it was His Will.
People do not talk about what it’s like to be fertile in your late 40’s and 50’s even. There is no sign of perimenopause coming any time soon. I have a 28-day cycle that doesn’t deviate. This is how I knew I was pregnant. So it’s important to know that natural pregnancy at age 47 can occur and does occur. I am proof.
What did I do when I discovered a natural pregnancy at age 47, besides search the internet? I called my obstetrician right away. Did the office congratulate me? No. Not a single person I spoke with in the office that day said “congratulations.” They saw my age and made assumptions. Some assumed I wanted an abortion. Others assumed the baby wouldn’t survive. The rest assumed I was so old that I would have serious complications and die.
These weird phone conversations led me to feel ashamed instead of joyful. It’s as if people my age don’t have sex! I felt strange having a conversation about my sex life even though I had to talk with a doctor. I was already concerned about low progesterone and I needed to address that as quickly as possible. With every pregnancy I have issues with low progesterone. It wouldn’t be a surprise to my obstetrician at all for me to call and request progesterone supplementation.
I knew the fight I had ahead of me to get the prescription. With five pregnancies and all five needing supplementation, there was always a fight with the medical doctors to get the prescription. With my last pregnancy, I asked the pharmacy about it. I will never forget the tech’s response. “If you were getting a sex change, this wouldn’t be an issue. Since it’s for pregnancy, they have to be more conservative with the hormones.” Shocking!
Advocating for Care
I was suppressing my feelings of shame in order to advocate for my care. This was very hard but I was able to receive an order for bloodwork fairly quickly. I needed to know two things. What was my progesterone level and was I truly pregnant? Even though the second line was there, part of me was still in disbelief. People will argue that the line on my test is so light that this isn’t really positive. They are wrong. The darkness of the test line doesn’t matter here. “PREGNANT TWO PINK LINES in the Result Window. One line may be lighter than the other. Appearance of the results may vary.” – This was taken directly from the test manufacturers website.
I immediately drove to the clinic for the bloodwork and anxiously awaited the results. By the evening, I was able to share with my husband that I was indeed pregnant. I won’t write about his reaction here, that will be in my book about this experience, but he didn’t believe me. We both approached the results with caution and decided not to tell the children until we knew a bit more. My progesterone was indeed low. It was so low, I knew that a baby would not survive if it remained this low so the goal was to get that prescription. The next morning I set out to do just that.
“We want to wait for another blood level to show rising levels before you come in so we can discuss progesterone.”
This advice was not shocking. I tried to explain that if I do not supplement, the levels will not rise. The nurse didn’t want to hear that. We can schedule an appointment for you later this week. “I need an appointment now,” I replied, “in order to get the progesterone prescribed.” The nurse was on “repeat.” “Once we see rising levels, we will schedule you to be seen.” I knew I would be banging my head against this wall. My anger was becoming apparent in my voice and I told her that she was not recognizing the nature of how urgent this was. I ended up telling her they were refusing to care for my specific medical and religious needs and I would need to seek care somewhere else.
Yes, this was religious in nature. I am Catholic and I knew I was low on progesterone. I needed treatment in order to do the only thing I could in an attempt to save this baby what everyone knew was certain death. My obstetrician’s office seemed to believe that this would end in death and that was a good thing (for both me and the baby).
Catholic to the Rescue
I called my local Catholic obstetrician’s office for help. I would have called them first; however, they are out of network for me so this was my second to last resort. The Pope Paul VI Institute was my “last resort,” and I knew they would help since they had helped me in the past. The first thing I heard from the office receptionist after explaining the complexity and urgency of my situation was, “Congratulations!” The next was, “you were right to have called and we need to see you right away. I can get you in at noon.”
I’d like to say that I received the progesterone supplementation and my pregnancy progressed but that’s not what happened. I received the progesterone that afternoon but by the following week, the miscarriage began. I was unable to maintain the pregnancy. Despite all the effort, I was still very grateful for the short time I had with this baby.
While rare, natural pregnancy at age 47 happens. The studies seem to suggest that declining egg quality is the problem yet many women my age are perimenopausal or even menopausal. Rare is the woman who has a 28-day cycle that is as predictable and consistent as mine. I highly doubt egg quality is the concern here. Declining sperm rates are also a suggestion and that is one possibility out of many for both me and my husband. I believe though, that this was a test of faith.
I am on a faith journey of which is difficult to describe because it’s very complex but God asked me to surrender to Him. It’s easy to say, not easy to do. I asked God to possess me in July. Four weeks later I was pregnant. I had to submit to His will for me in all ways. I offered up every moment of suffering, every anxiety, every worry, every bit of anger that I had for the medical community. All I could physically do was get the progesterone supplementation. I prayed my levels would rise without it but I was asked to do what I could on my own (get progesterone).
The rest was up to God and the faith I had in Him for what He had in store for me, whether that was an earthly child or not. My child was called back to Him, for Him, to worship Him as He designed. My child was never mine to begin with and accepting that from the moment I learned of his existence in me was what I did. I fully trusted that God would carry me through this so that ultimately, I could give His child back to Him when that child was called.
His name was Simon Peter.
**This post was written in September 2023 but not posted until December 2023. Read my follow-up post here.