Imagine being told as a 50-year-old woman that you’ve officially entered menopause, only to learn a few months later that—surprise!—you’re pregnant. And if that’s not already shocking enough, the cherry on the cake is that you’re 26 weeks along and only have two months to prepare to bring a newborn into the world. Congratulations! Wait, what?
According to Naples Daily News, that’s exactly what happened to Michele Hall, a mother of four and grandmother of two living in Florida. The outlet reports that Hall didn’t experience the usual pregnancy symptoms like weight gain and morning sickness. She did suffer from some aches and pains, but chalked them up to side effects of menopause and lupus, which she’d been living with for 10 years.
A gut feeling eventually led Hall to take a pregnancy test, and the plus sign confirmed her suspicions. With three grown children out of the house and a 14-year-old with her husband, Jerry, the mom-to-be had thought that once she and her hubby were empty nesters they’d travel the world and enjoy their grandkids. Their lives changed in an instant.
Hall thought she had “officially” entered menopause since she hadn’t gotten her period for over a year, although she later realized later that a chunk of the time her period was MIA was due to being pregnant. When she found out she was expecting, she said she felt like one of the women on the TLC series I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. “I used to call bull on that until it happened to me,” she admitted to NDN.
Once the initial shock wore off, Hall was overcome with anxiety. The odds were against her: Because of her age and medical history, doctors considered her a high-risk geriatric pregnancy.
Data released in 2017 from National Vital Statistics Reports found that more women over age 30 are giving birth in the United States than ever before. And while it’s uncommon to become pregnant after your 40s, it’s not impossible. Last year, the actress Brigitte Nielsen gave birth to daughter Frida at age 54. And who can forget the woman who finally welcomed the child she’d always wanted after undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in her early 70s?
Getting pregnant later in life comes with risks. “A 50-year-old woman’s body isn’t necessarily built to withstand the strain of a pregnancy,” Bat-Sheva Lerner Maslow, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility in New York, previously told Health. Older moms-to-be have increased odds of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, and they’re also more likely to experience miscarriages or stillbirths.
Hall had medical checkups regularly during the two months leading up to the delivery. “A lot of older people would look at me and do a double take because they were probably trying to figure out if I was as old as they thought I was,” Hall told NDN. But she began to feel joy over the unexpected pregnancy once she and her husband started sharing their news with friends and family.
At the end of December, Hall and her husband had welcomed a baby boy into the world. Doctors estimated his age at birth to have been between 34 and 35 weeks, which made him slightly younger than full-term. The newborn was monitored closely in the NICU due to some mid-respiratory complications, but after 12 days, he fully recovered, and the Halls took him home. “Now we’re just settling back into our regular lives after a chaotic 12 to 13 weeks,” Hall told NDN.
The Halls won’t be experiencing any other surprise babies, though: NDN reports that the new mom had her fallopian tubes removed during her C-section.
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