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Susan Tolefsen, UK, pregnant at 57

People rarely think of older women as over-achievers.

In fact, they’re usually amazed (if not morally offended) that—thanks to modern reproductive science—women can become mature mothers well into the apparent dotage of their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s.

Still, there seems to be something of a morbid fascination when a would-be pensioner has a so-called “bun in the oven”. There’s always some snap-happy paparazzi lurking on the maternity ward, poised for the latest reveal of “the world’s oldest mom”.

The truth is that women giving birth well into their senior years is the exception that proves the rule.

Let “no auld acquaintance be forgot”, however.  The stunning feats of over-achieving older women only begin at having babies. Their canny knack for entertaining an eager public reaches beyond the wildest stretch marks of anyone’s imagination.

Top Ten Over-Achieving Older Women

1. Jaci Dalenberg, Oldest Woman to Give Birth to Her Grandchildren, At Age 56

At the age of 56 years, Jacilyn Dalenberg (http://usatoday30 NULL.usatoday NULL.com/news/offbeat/2008-11-11-grandma-triplets_N NULL.htm?csp=34&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UsatodaycomHealth-TopStories+%28News+-+Health+-+Top+Stories%29) (USA) acted as surrogate mother for her daughter, Kim Coseno (USA), and carried and delivered her own grandchildren – three girls. The babies were delivered by caesarian section at Hillcrest Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, on 11 October 2008. It sort of reminds me of that popular mind-bending ditty: “I Am My Own Grandpa” (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=rXU-ZdmzNmo).

2. Dawn Brooke, Oldest Mother to Conceive Naturally, At Age 59

On 20 August 1997, Dawn Brooke (http://www NULL.dailymail NULL.co NULL.uk/health/article-480923/I-thought-pregnancy-cancer-says-worlds-oldest-mother NULL.html) (UK) became the oldest natural mother when she gave birth to a son by Caesarian section at the age of 59 years. HRT was suspected as the cause of her late pregnancy. Brooke thought she was suffering from cancer and cut a trip to Los Angeles short to face a life-changing event.

3. The Queen Mother, Britain’s Oldest Queen Consort, at Age 101

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (http://www NULL.guinnessworldrecords NULL.com/world-records/1/oldest-british-queen-consort), Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (UK, 4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002), who married the future King George VI on 26 April 1923 and was Queen Consort from 10 December 1936 to 6 February 1952, lived to the age of 101 years 238 days.  You could say that she was more than well preserved.

4. Wilma Connor, World’s Oldest Female Body Builder, at Age 77

The oldest competitive female bodybuilder is E. Wilma Conner (http://www NULL.torontosun NULL.com/2012/05/28/oldest-female-bodybuilder-loves-pumping-iron) (USA, b. 09 May 1935). She last competed in the 2011 NPC Armbrust Pro Gym Warrior Classic Bodybuilding Championships in Loveland, Colorado, USA, on 20 August 2011. This year, at 77, she told the press that it was “fun to add another 25 pounds” to her pumping iron.

5. Edith and Evelyn, The Oldest Living Female Twins, at Age 102

The oldest living female twins are Edith Ritchie and Evelyn Middleton (http://www NULL.yousaytoo NULL.com/the-102-years-scottish-twins-are-worlds-oldest-living-twins/1869694) (nee. Rennie) (UK) who were born on 15 November 1909. And at 102 years old, the Scottish super-grannies have 21 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren, and 6 great-great-grandchildren between them—enough to found a village.

6. Estrid Geertsen, Oldest Female Tandem Parachute Jumper, at Age 100

Estrid Geertsen (Denmark, b. 1 August 1904) made a tandem parachute jump on 30 September 2004 from an altitude of 4,000 m (13,100 ft) over Roskilde, Denmark, at the age of 100 years 60 days. The speed-junky-granny took her first dive at 87, and said it made her feel “beautiful and free”. Her dream is to drive a Formula 1 car.

7.  Gladys Burrill, Oldest Woman To Complete A Marathon at Age 92

The oldest female to complete a marathon was Gladys Burrill (http://www NULL.msnbc NULL.msn NULL.com/id/42427918/ns/us_news-life/t/-year-old-marathoners-secret-think-positive/# NULL.UH4bAhhl9-U) (USA) at the age of 92 years 19 days at the Honolulu Marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, on 12 December 2010. Burrill completed the race in 9 hr, 53 min, 16 sec. Nicknamed “the Gladyator”, she said she liked walking because “you can stop and smell the roses”.

8.  Daphne Selfe, Oldest Female Fashion Model at Age 83

Professional model Daphne Selfe (http://www NULL.dailymail NULL.co NULL.uk/femail/article-2130239/Daphne-Selfe-83-worlds-oldest-supermodels-secret-botox NULL.html) (UK) of Baldock, Hertfordshire, UK, celebrated her 83rd birthday in July 2011. Her modeling career spans more than 60 years and has been photographed by some of the most renowned fashion photographers, including Mario Testino, Nick Knight, and David Bailey. She agreed to pose as Madonna in her prime, including the risque gear.

9. Suzanne Pinto, Oldest Woman To Row Across Any Ocean at Age 57

(http://www NULL.denverpost NULL.com/longmont/ci_17619650)Suzanne Pinto (USA, b. 4 March 1953) was 57 years 333 days old when she helped row the £80,000 ($126,800) 14-man vessel Britannia III across the Atlantic east to west from Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands to Barbados in the West Indies in 42 days 17 hr 54 min between 31 January and 15 March 2011.

10. Carmen Bousada de Lara, Oldest Womean To Give Birth To Twins at Age 66

And the pièces de résistance of my top ten over-achievers is Carmen Bousada de Lara (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Maria_del_Carmen_Bousada_de_Lara), (Spain, b. 5 January 1940), who gave birth by caesarean section to twin boys, Christian and Pau, aged 66 years 358 days in Barcelona, Spain on 29 December 2006. Bousada gained worldwide attention and notoriety for her outspoken advocacy of the rights of older mothers. She died when her sons were only 2 years old, in 2009—an event which lead to an almost global condemnation of later mothers as “selfish” and inconsiderate of the long-term needs of their children.

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3 Responses to Top Ten Over-Achieving Older Moms

  1. Anne says:

    Hi Angel,

    I have to say I love reading your posts and think what you have done with the site and the blogs is wonderful.

    My only wish is that everyone please remember that there are a huge group of mom’s in their 40’s, 50’s that have NOT given birth but have chosen a different path to become a parent. I sometimes get a bit put off when the word conceived is used and it seems to dismiss or discount those of us who could not conceive and chose a different route to become a parent.

    There are mom’s over 40 and 50 that have fostered, adopted, used a surrogate that could feel left out of the discussion if the focus or first sentence (in your email) is geared to women who conceive and give birth.

    Thank you for taking the time to listen to an adoptive mom in her 50’s.

    • Rhizomom says:

      I do agree and I also believe that this is the space where we should campaign for making adoption more affordable and accessible for a variety of families. Not enough kids are getting the parents they could have due to too many restrictions, extremely high costs and an often kafkaesk regulatory/legal jungle.

      • Christina says:

        For sure – more discussion about becoming a mom after 40 by adopting. Adoption is also a miracle. One of the hindrances to adopting is mature age. 🙁

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