On Delivering My 1st Child at 46

If you’ve landed on this page after a random web-search, you aren’t alone.  The topics of “natural pregnancy at 45” and “getting pregnant at 45” draw more visitors than any other to this blog and have gotten almost half a million page views (which is a lot more than I ever expected!).

 And if you’ve landed here because you are struggling with infertility, I hope this post gives you some comfort and especially helps banish any guilt you may be feeling about what you are or are not doing to have a baby. And please know that although I (probably) don’t know you personally, I’m keeping you in my thoughts. 

After more than 4 years of IVF and other fertility treatments in Japan, a country where I barely speak the language, I turned 45, and my Japanese doctors turned down the corners of their mouths when I asked about continuing to try to get pregnant.

They pointed not just to my age but my high FSH as a procreative non-starter, as well as a luteal phase defect, a blood-clotting disorder, low progesterone, and inconsistent ovulation. I tried natural approaches to fertility enhancement, cutting out coffee, wine, milk, soy milk, meat from non-organic farms, even water without ice-cubes and exercise at certain times of the month (to, I was urged, “nourish my blood”–whatever that means). I tried acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. I subscribed to podcasts about “positive thinking.” I felt guilty that nothing I did was working because I must not have been doing any of it well or strict enough.

On my 45th birthday, my chances of getting pregnant, according to the popular statistics, reached zero. I cried, and my husband assured me we could keep trying naturally. I said “ok,” but I thought he was being foolishly optimistic.  We stopped all medical treatments, and I gave up all the alternative approaches to boosting fertility I’d been using too, like acupuncture and herbs.

There Go All the Theories about What To Do and What Not to Do

Six months later, just after mother’s day and just after I wrote this post, we learned I was almost seven weeks pregnant. At the time, my beloved father-in-law was dying, and I’d been spending 4-6 hours a day in a Japanese hospital with him, where once again, I couldn’t understand any of the nurses or doctors. So there goes the theory that we just have to relax or not be stressed and we’ll get pregnant.

My husband and I were still trying naturally every month, although sometimes we were so tired from his father’s illness that we could barely make it past 9pm. But still, we were still trying, so there goes the theory that we just have to stop trying to get pregnant.

After my 45th birthday, I’d started drinking wine and coffee again. I ate what I wanted to eat and worked out when and how I wanted to. I tried to monitor my body with OPKS and other physical signs of ovulation, but that’s it. So there go the theories that we have to monitor what we eat or how we exercise to get pregnant.

My husband and I had also decided not to adopt if we couldn’t conceive (as I’d written about here, in the New York Times online). So there goes the theory that you’ll get pregnant if you just adopt and start to love a child–which I found the most insulting of all theories, actually.

In February of 2014, I was 4 months past my 46th birthday when I gave birth to a healthy, perfect little girl. She is lying beside me now as I write this.

I tell the story of how we waited for our daughter, and all the ups and downs this waiting entailed, in my book (The Good Shufu). But I post this now in the hope that it gives some comfort and encouragement to anyone who reads these words and is struggling to get pregnant or feels guilt about whether you are too stressed or doing the wrong thing to conceive. And I wish the same incredible good luck for you too.

50 thoughts on “On Delivering My 1st Child at 46

  1. So happy for you, Tracy! I’m sure your article gives hope to many who have reached a stage where chances of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a healthy child are supposed to be zero (you’ve certainly proven that these statistics aren’t 100% correct).

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    1. Am really happy for you and I believe the God that made it happen to you will surelly work for me. As I read your story , I really have hope of becoming pregnant again naturally. Am really happy for you and your family.

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  2. They say writing memoir brings about emotional resolution to the writer; one woonders what writing this book of yours had to do with the happy results: a baby girl and a published memoir. So happy for you on both counts, Tracy. You have definitely earned it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, All! And Borah, the shogun (my husband) is a bit of a privacy freak (so he marries a woman about to publish a memoir about their marriage–go figure!), so I’m guessing be won’t let me post any photos of the little bean on a public blog. He just started letting me post them on Facebook after checking my privacy settings!

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  4. Just found your blog now and as one mommy to another, I can’t remember how, even though it was less than half an hour ago. Congrats on baby-chan! That’s wonderful news after the years of effort and pain. While our story was not as involved, ours has some similarities and I’m so happy for all of you. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Hilary, for your lovely comment! And I take it from what you wrote that the similarities in our stories involve a similarly happy ending for you, which is just great news. Sending you all my very best from Yokohama, where we’ve relocated for now.

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      1. I like Yokohama! I’ve only been a handle of times but it’s got a nice vibe. My favorite visit was to an incredible park. Hubby and I can’t remember its name but it’s massive and we played catch all afternoon with the boys (hubby’s circle). 😀 Hubby will check into the name.

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    2. You did everything you could to get pregnant .after slugging our God in haven who knows and controles our bodies wiped your ‘s teas in rewarding you a healthier baby.

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  5. Is it Rinku Park? That’s right in the center of the city. It’s beautiful and right on the water. We live in the suburbs outside the city now–actually closer to Tokyo than the city of Yokohama. Hope all is well in your corner of the globe!

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      1. Wonderful! Let us know if you go. It really was such an enjoyable experience. I can find out what train station we walked from. Perhaps there’s a closer way to get there but I really enjoyed that walk since we could meander down a long boulevard. I love looking at houses and the ones there didn’t seem to be typical. They reminded me more of homes in Vancouver. 🙂

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  6. Hi, just found your blog, a few tears shed reading the posts, your writing is beautiful. My husband is also Japanese and I had my first (a boy) in Chiba with very little language skills as well. That was almost 8 years ago. We went back to my home country 2 1/2 years after that and I had my second here. As much as I disliked it at the time, I have since realized, the first birth and time afterwards in Japan was in many ways better than what I got back home. We are in the process of returning to Japan to look after my MIL, due to her forgetfulness. So I’m online a lot getting back into all things Japanese, parenting and AMWF, hence finding you. Congratulations on your shogunette, and I love your original book title, although I do understand the shufu part. With the other title I think husband is too literal, Japanese Wife could still be understood as correct, in that you are married to a Japanese man, living in Japan as a Japanese wife is expected to live, housework, looking after in laws etc. As opposed to living life as an expat, nannies, dinner parties etc. Pardon the stereotypes. Whatever the title you go with, I will be picking up a copy.

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    1. Bilingual, thanks so much for your comment and for your kind words! And congratulations on your little boys! I hope your return to Japan will be a wonderful experience, both for you and your family. I totally understand your mixed feelings about your past experience in Japan. I have mixed feelings all the time about being here now, but in general I am thankful for our life here. I write a little bit in the book about how easy it is for expats to romanticize home sometimes, to imagine that life would be so much more perfect at “home,” when in fact I think it’s important to remember that there are so many ways we feel frustrated and alienated and even lonely no matter where we are–even when we are in our original countries.

      Thanks also for your comments about the title. We’ve decided to keep “The Good Shufu” because the editorial and marketing team and Putnam really liked that title. There is a new subtitle, though, which I haven’t gotten around to posting about yet but will soon. Putnam has also finished designing the cover, which I’m so excited about, but I’m not allowed to make the design public yet. They said I could in November, so stay tuned!

      I wish you the best of luck with your MIL. I write a lot in the book at the end about caring for my FIL. I loved him, so it was ultimately a really positive, if heartbreaking, experience. I hope you get to experience the positive part, too.

      Looking forward to staying in touch, and thanks again for coming to the blog and commenting! I really appreciate you reaching out and your enthusiasm about the book.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and sweet reply, Aquileana! The mini and I are doing well–she’s turning one next week and I can’t believe it. Meanwhile, I’m up to once every three weeks for dying my roots so I don’t look like the oldest mother on the playground. Sending you all my best!

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  7. Such a lovely story! I got married at 42, had two miscarriages, then at 43, I had 3 IVF cycles to check the embryos’ chromosomes and after no success I continues trying naturally…but nothing. At 45, I know the chances of getting pregnant are almost zero, since almost all eggies are chromosomally normal (I am a genecist, so I know al lot..). However, I have decided to keep trying for another year before we start feeling forms for adoption (something I would love to do but too difficult in my country). Your post gives me great hope! Thank you so much

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  8. I turned 45 in December, I pray for a miracle like yours. I’ve been beating myself up about my inability to get pregnant, after trying so many things. This journey to trying to become pregnant has been so stressful and devastating.

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    1. Hi girlgeekdi,

      I’m so sorry you are in the middle of the devastating part, and especially that you are beating yourself up. I’m not sure this will help, but I wrote this post recently on the things that helped me the most in terms of getting through all the stress and sadness, and hanging on until I got pregnant at 45 and a half: https://thegoodshufu.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/getting-through-to-getting-pregnant-at-45/.

      I’m also hoping for your miracle, and in the meantime, hoping for some solace and comfort for you as you go through all of this. You must be a brave woman.

      Keeping you in my thoughts.

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  9. Very inspirational! I feel like the days of having it all figured out and wrapped up in a bow by 25 are long gone. It takes a lot of years – and even more mistakes – before you discover who you are and what you want for your family life. Congrats. I know this piece could really help other women. 🙂

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  10. Hello thegoodshufu,

    I will be 45 in May and have just had my 3rd miscarriage with my husband (over a period of 2.5 years).

    Doctor says it’s just down to bad luck and probably chromosomal defect (age…..).

    Your story gives me hope and I thank you for sharing. I think I’ll be coming back to read it again when I’m feeling down.

    Best wishes
    Christina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Christina. I’m so very sorry to hear of your 3rd miscarriage. It’s a lot to go through in just 2 and a half years. I know sometimes it can feel like a double-edged sword to have hope or to hold onto hope, especially when the odds seem against us, so I’ll keep hoping for you that you and your husband have the same good luck my husband and I somehow had. Thank you in any case for your lovely response to this post, and I hope the post can continue to offer you support on the dark days. Keeping you in my thoughts.

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  11. Hi the goodshufu,
    Am 43 and I just stumbled on this page as I was seeking reassurance for the operation ( Myomectomy) I have coming up in a few month, and realizing that I maybe childless forever, you just gave me a flicker of hope. Am glad both you and baby girl is doing fine. I feel much better that all is not lost for us late bloomers. I thank you. Am encouraged..

    Blessings to you and family..

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    1. Starlene, thank you for your lovely message, and so sorry to reply so late. I know my story is unusual and that we got incredibly lucky, and that not everyone can get pregnant at 45, but I also know that some people can–even if our doctors tell us differently–and I’m hoping you have the same good luck we did. I’ll be keeping everything crossed for you! And I’ll be thinking of you as your operation approaches. Sending you all my very, very best.

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  12. Hi thegoodshufu,

    Your post is so reassuring to me, thank you. I gave birth to my naturally conceived son at 40, and conceived again right after my son’s first birthday. I miscarried at 12 weeks, which kicked off 3 years of trying to conceive, including a full year of multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles. Two months ago, right at my 44th birthday, my husband and I decided to walk away from the stress, expense and craziness. I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I felt like I was missing out on what could otherwise be a happy life for all of us.

    A week ago I found out that I am pregnant. Like you, I didn’t do anything special. I stopped taking my temperature, I stopped OPKs, we just “tried” on days 9 & 11. We were too tired on day 13. i’m currently 5 weeks 3 days, and my happiness has quickly turned into worry. My obgyn is telling me not to get my hopes up, that I have a lot of hurdles to get over before I should celebrate (even though there is nothing physically wrong with me to prevent a successful pregnancy), and that I will probably miscarry due solely to my age.

    Reading that you successfully carried to term at 45/46 is just what I needed to read right at this moment. I’ve been making myself crazy with google searches, convinced that my random aches and pains must mean I’m about to miscarry or that I’m having an ectopic pregnancy, even though I have none of the symptoms. I know I need to get through 8 more weeks and a couple of scans before I can breathe a little easier, but knowing that you did it healthfully at 45, even though statistics say that there is a 100% chance of miscarriage at 45 (My doctor said it’s between a 35% and 50% chance I’ll miscarry), gives me a lot of hope.

    Thank you,
    Kathleen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! Yes, I successfully carried to term (a week past, actually) and delivered a healthy baby girl, and I’ll be keeping everything crossed for you that you have the same outcome. I really get where your mind must be at: I didn’t believe the pregnancy was real or that I was actually going to give birth to a healthy child until after I actually gave birth, and I still have dreams that I discover it was all a mistake and I’m heartbroken and not pregnant after all. I think it all just comes with the territory of pregnancy at a late age, but if you can, remember that it *is* possible it will all come out wonderfully, b/c it did for me and I’ve heard from others (although never met anyone in person, so can’t claim to fully confirm) that it’s happened for others past 45 as well.

      And if your doctor gives you between 35-50% chance of miscarrying, that means you have up to a 65% chance of not miscarrying, which are pretty good odds, so hopefully you can draw even more hope from that.

      It’s a pretty wild ride being pregnant at 45/46, so go easy on yourself, and please know that I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and pulling for you.

      All my very best to you and yours,

      Tracy

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  13. Hi,

    I don’t nderstand how you could be ‘almost 7 weeks pregnant’ just after mother’s day and then give birth in February.

    Lets say your baby was born Feb 1, that would make conception ON mothers day. Even if you were a week late (Due Jan 25) you would have conceived around May 3 and wouldnt have known you were even pg.

    A 7 week pg around May 10 would have a baby born in January.

    There is something wrong with the dates you are giving because they don’t add up. Perhaps you can provide an LMP and clarify the confusion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chocolate Fan. Thanks for your message. You’re right that my wording was a little unclear here. It was actually almost 5 weeks after mother’s day that we learned I was pregnant–compared to the almost 5 years we’d been trying, that seemed to me like “just after,” but I can see how it’s still a considerable amount of time in the abstract.

      Baby was actually due at the end of Jan, although she was a week or so late.

      Not sure what an LMP is, per the last line of your message, but let me know if this doesn’t clear things up.

      All the best to you!

      Tracy

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  14. Tracey I loved your book. Of course, like many of your readers, I am also ttc at age 43 in a second relationship. I had a miscarriage at 41 spontaneous pregnancy, after two rounds of IVF. I sometimes wonder how I can keep up with a little one if I were to conceive at this age. How has parenting been for you? Do you ever wonder about a sibling for your little one?

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  15. Bram, thank you for your lovely comment–and huge apologies for not posting a reply until now. We’ve recently completed a cross-continental move, and as you can tell I’ve fallen WAY behind on everything. But I really appreciate your kind words.

    I definitely don’t think about having a second child! As a 51-year old with a healthy 5 year old, I feel like I’m done and I have everything I could ask for. Parenting at an older age is both great and hard–although I think parenting at a younger age is too. In general, I’m both tired and incredibly grateful and in love, every single day. I don’t have a single regret. And I know I’m a much better mother than I would have been had I had my daughter when I was younger, in terms of emotional stability and making peace with everything you have to give up as a parent, in part because I was lucky enough to do a lot before I had her.

    In general, it seems like the personal and financial stability that most older parents have achieved out-performs that of most younger parents, so there can be some solid benefits of having kids at an older age. There are also some interesting research studies coming out recently that confirm this. I’m working on a piece now summarizing and linking to some of these studies, since I track media and research about pregnancy and parenthood in advanced maternal age; I’ll post it on the blog once it’s done (if it’s ever done??). For now, here’s one study you might take comfort in: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/older-mothers-better-less-difficulties-behavioural-social-emotional-aarhus-university-denmark-a7642826.html.

    In any case, I’m wishing you all the best of luck as you try to conceive. I know it can be really dispiriting and exhausting, but please know that you have someone out there pulling for you.

    With all my very best wishes in the world,

    Tracy

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    1. Everyone there is hope! I posted on another blog same author. I believe some eggs age slower than others. When I was 39yrs I had my fertility tested and my egg age was 21yrs! Yes somehow my eggs preserved well. Maybe because I had fibroids cushioning them who knows. But my fertility did not drop.
      Also my grandmother had her last child naturally at 47yrs as my aunt had her last child at 46yrs. Both kids were healthy.

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