Yes, you read that right. I had twins at 53-years-old. For some reason, after a lifelong career as a technical writer, and after nine years of marriage to my husband, I had this overwhelming urge to have a family. So, I did what I always do, I headed straight to my computer and did some research to find out whether it was even possible. To my astonishment, it was.
I made an appointment with a local reproductive specialist the next day. My husband was not keen on the idea and spent the first part of the meeting reading Newsweek. Nevertheless, I madly continued on my quest. I found out that I could be taken out of menopause but that I shouldn’t even try to use one of my own eggs. So a donor egg was the solution. One more hurdle: my husband had a radical vasectomy thirty years earlier. No problem said the specialist – we can draw sperm from him. This turned out to be not so easy and definitely not a comfortable process. Let’s just say my husband had to take a flight the very next day from Seattle, Washington to Sydney, Australia, and the 17-hour flight was excruciatingly painful.
Still, we were well on our way. Not to say it was a quick process. It was not. There were group meetings. I had to get innumerable shots. I had to have a painful physical to make sure my ovaries and uterus were healthy. We had to pick a donor. I had to give myself a shot in the butt every day for four months. And I had to sync my newly revived reproductive system with my donor’s. It was tedious and it was expensive, as in taking a second mortgage out on the house expensive.
On a beautiful July afternoon, my friend drove me to have the two five-day-old embryos placed in my uterus. I remember the surgical staff asked me what kind of music I liked, which sort of made it feel like a party. I thought it would be more high tech, but they simply very carefully and very slowly brought in a petri dish holding my two embryos, put it in a baby incubator, got ready for the procedure, and then puffed the two embryos into my uterus. That was it. I was pregnant.
We were blessed the entire pregnancy. We didn’t lose a baby. They were both healthy, and we got a boy and a girl – just what we wanted.
I loved being pregnant and although I was nauseated for four months, I didn’t mind. I remember seeing a dust ball in the grocery story and gagging. Also, once my husband farted in the car and I had to puke out the window.
At four months into my pregnancy, I felt terrific – no more 24-hour morning sickness. At 32 weeks, it was discovered that I had high blood pressure so the neonatal team decided to take the babies that night. I asked if they had any mothers my age or older and they said “Uhhh… no.” That made me feel ancient, which clearly I was.
This is when my age came into play. I hemorrhaged during the c-section and I lost eight units of blood products. Let’s just say that “code blue” was called and I ended up in the ICU for three nights. They were worried that I might have a stroke.
The babies were in great shape with fully developed lungs, but they were a month early, so they stayed in the ISCU for a month. That month without the babies turned out to be a blessing for me.
While the babies were in the ISCU, my incision had to be reopened and I developed a MRSA infection from the hospital. I spent a month going back and forth to the wound clinic, a place I didn’t even know existed. It was a spooky old place in the bottom of the hospital where people go with open wounds. I had no idea that it was possible for me to walk around in the world with this huge gaping wound under my shirt, but that’s what I did for a month.
The babies finally came home and a couple of things hit me at once. One: I had no idea how hard it would be and two: I had NO ONE to help me. My husband was a pilot and was gone three weeks out of the month. My parents were way too old to help and I didn’t have any siblings available to help. Also, I was (or felt like I was) shunned from all the mommy groups I joined. I felt truly alone.
My twins are now in second grade, I’m 61, and I try not to think about all the scary diseases I could get at this age. We do, however, have a much younger family who is willing to take our twins if anything should happen to us. But I want to see them grow up! I’m not sure if I’ll make it to their high school or college graduations, let alone let alone whether I’ll be able to hold my grandchildren. It’s something I thought I could deal with before I got pregnant, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re faced with it every day.
Still, my children have been a blessing beyond anything I ever expected. I have the very family I dreamed of having not so long ago, even if it feels like a lifetime ago.
Anne Bockman Hansen is a 61-year-old mother of 8-year-old boy/girl twins. She began her career working for newspapers and ended it as an Instructional Designer for Microsoft. Currently, she is a SAHM who loves to immerse her children in the arts, science, and technology. While the children are in school, she dreams of becoming a writer. Anne lives in Fall City, Washington in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.