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It took several years to get close to the ubiquitous driving force behind three of the most important blog sites for women over 40 hoping to conceive, but what—or rather whom—I discovered was, indeed, worth the wait.
Catherine McDiarmid-Watt, a 57-year-old Canadian, is the last person you’d expect to advocate for midlife motherhood. Far from being a 40+ mom herself, her story makes a strong case for running as far away from the subject as her legs can carry her.
Yet, her websites—known to many midlife women who journey the internet on a pilgrimage of hope—are essential destinations, never failing to ignite a flicker of faith in the hearts of the daunted.
Stories of Pregnancy & Birth Over 44 Years Old, (http://pregnancyover44y NULL.blogspot NULL.com/) a “news story blog”; Pregnancy Stories By Age: 43—56+ Years Old! (http://pregnancystories NULL.blogspot NULL.com/), a substantial collection of pregnancy stories; and, You Can Get Pregnant In Your 40’s (http://youcangetpregnant NULL.blogspot NULL.com/), featuring a host of informative articles—are a known source of succor for those with a looming sense of maternal desperation.
But what’s the motivation behind them?
McDiarmid-Watt was born in Southern Ontario, during the early 1950’s, when the fruit of women’s liberation was still waxing green on the branch.
“It’s the old story”, she says, “I married out of high school at 18 to a boy who was not ready to be a man.”
“Back then, girls were not encouraged to get a better education or go out to work, so marriage babies were my only option”, she continues.
But the path to motherhood, it turned out, was not quite so simple. Although she got pregnant easily within 6 months of marrying, she miscarried at 8 weeks.
It took a year, and “many late periods” before she was finally pregnant again. But during the pregnancy McDiarmid-Watt says she was “terrified to breathe”—and perhaps rightly so, since she miscarried a second time at 14 weeks.
While the doctors insisted nothing was wrong, McDiarmid-Watt wasn’t so sure.
“I started to think it was like in the movies where the character has one miscarriage and can never get pregnant again”, she says.
After 2 years of trying, at last, she was able to achieve a successful pregnancy and gave birth to a son, followed by another several years later.
However, the marriage had grown rocky, culminating in her husband walking out when the boys were only 9 months and 3-and-a-half years old.
Although she dated over the years, strangely, it was during a short-lived re-union with her ex-husband a decade later that she conceived her 3rd son and gave birth for the last time at 34.
“I knew he wasn’t going to stick around, but I had lost too many babies, and my desire to have another child was intense.”
Then at 49, the life took a different path when she met the man she would marry for the second time.
“Within months”, says McDiarmid-Watt, “I was pregnant again!”
But the nightmare of serial miscarriages continued, as they had throughout her life, until she was 54.
“I had a total of 10 losses past 8 weeks and an uncountable number of chemical pregnancies.”
McDiarmid-Watt, whose “ambition had always been to be a mom”, was driven to find a way to channel her grief and disappointment.
“I grew frustrated of being told that it was impossible to get pregnant without donor eggs past the age of 43”, she explains.
She began to collect “older mom pregnancy stories” off the internet and post them on online fertility boards, only to find she was accused of “making them up”.
“My original goal was to find 100, just to prove my point—but my stories just created animosity on the websites, so I took them to a blog where people could read them if they wanted to.”
McDiarmid-Watt recalls that some members of the fertility sites followed her to her new blog and “attacked” her there.
But with the zeal of any missionary, she kept on dishing up hope to the thousands of women, each year, standing on the brink of grief before a world insisting they are too old to get pregnant.
McDiarmid-Watt remains unrepentant, believing that fertility in women over 40—or even 50 years of age—is not as rare as we are led to believe. And, she’s not afraid to back up her position (http://youcangetpregnant NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2010/04/time-to-update-our-over-40-birth NULL.html) with ‘just the facts ma’am!’:
“In 2008, there were 113,666 live births in the United States to women ages 40 through to 54”, says McDiarmid-Watt.
“In 2006 there were 2,274 live births to women over 42, using donor eggs—that leaves somewhere around 111,392 live births over 40 years of age that were not conceived by donor eggs. Does that sound rare to you?”
Her final word to all women over 40, who are not ready to give up on being a mom, is simple, home-spun and—dare I say it—maternal.
“The percentage of women having children after the age of 45 was higher in 1960 than it is now because, unlike today’s women, they had no other choice before ‘the pill’. “
“Believe that it is possible”, she insists.
“Women are designed to have children from the start of menstruation to a year or two before menopause.”
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom.com—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.
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