Too old for IVF? Oldest mother, 72, dying leaving behind 18-month daughter

AOL reports that the woman believed to the be the oldest mother in the world is dying just 18 months after giving birth to her first child.

Rajo Devi Lohan says she is suffering from complications after her IVF pregnancy and is too weak to recover.  Lohan ,72, and her husband Balla, 73, are poor farmers who live north of Delhi.

They have been married for nearly 54 years and always dreamed of having a child. They took a loan for the $3,000 IVF treatment.

From the AOL story:

“I dreamed about having a child all my life,” she told the Daily Mail. “It does not matter to me that I am ill, because at least I lived long enough to become a mother.” ….

“News of a dying Lohan comes just short of year after the death of the former world’s oldest mom, Maria del Carmen Bousada of Spain. Bousada died in July of last year at age 69, leaving behind 2-year-old twins. Bousada had lied to a U.S. fertility clinic in order to get pregnant, telling them that she was 55 — the cut off age for in vitro fertilization — rather than 67 at the time of her fertility treatments.” …

“In related news, 66-year-old Bhateri Devi this week became the oldest woman in the world to have triplets. She had IVF at the same clinc as Lohan — the National Fertility & Test Tube Baby Centre in Hisar, which is also in Haryana.”

Lohan’s 60-year-old sister has moved in to help take care of the baby.

So I think this prompts lots of questions:

How old is too old to have IVF? Is it unfair to the child if you won’t be around to take care of them? What is going on at that fertility clinic if all these older women are sneaking in over the age limit? Should age matter in having kids? Is there anything a woman can do to satisfy her natural longing for children?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania

63 comments Add your comment

RJ

March 28th, 2011
1:15 pm

Well this one hits home for me…found out Friday that I am expecting again. I feel like a grandma at nearly 40 so I can’t imagine being 73 and having a kid. I keep doing the math in my head thinking how old I’ll be when my kid is only 20. To me it is selfish to have a child at such an old age. If they really wanted to be parents they should’ve considered adoption. I think 50 should be the cut off age. After that, definitely adopt an older kid. There are so many kids that need homes.

Shame on these doctors for performing these treatments. They seem to be in it for the money, caring little about the child.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 28th, 2011
1:34 pm

Wow RJ!! It’s exciting but i know hard to start back over. How old are your other kids now??? We are out of diapers now and ready to travel and do stuff. I have given most of the baby stuff away. it would be very hard to start back over. Wow!!! feeling it for you!!

RJ

March 28th, 2011
1:37 pm

Theresa, they are 13 and 16 and probably won’t be excited. I’m still digesting this news. Just as we were counting the days when they would be gone, we get a little surprise. I have given ALL of the baby stuff away as I knew I would never need it. Boy was I wrong:)!

mom2alex&max

March 28th, 2011
1:46 pm

First of all, congrats RJ. Think of the advantages instead: mature parents, more financially stable, more patient, more experienced, built in babysitters!!, I’m sure there’s more!

Second of all, on topic: beyond GROSS. What kind of doctor implants a woman in her 70s??? That’s disgusting and unethical. Glad to see that business practices in India are so well regarded (/sarcasm off). Think of that next time you want to outsource, Corporate America.

MomsRule

March 28th, 2011
1:46 pm

….beyond selfish.

really

March 28th, 2011
1:54 pm

really

March 28th, 2011
1:55 pm

Enter your comments here

justmy2cents

March 28th, 2011
1:58 pm

I’d cut it off at age 45. After 35 is considered advanced maternal age and doubles your risk of Down’s Syndrome (and twins too I believe). At age 45, the risk is 1/30.

DB

March 28th, 2011
1:58 pm

This woman is the epitome of “selfish” — everything in her comments are “I, I, I” , without regard for the child she will be leaving behind. It was as if she had to prove her womanhood, or something. And it killed her. She was selfish to do it, her husband was stupid for going along with it, and the clinic should be closed for allowing it. Heck, at 54, I think 55 is too old!!

RJ, congratulations — I can imagine the consternation! I was 13 when my brother was born (my mom had a couple of miscarriages inbetween) and it was like having two separate families, as I was off to college when he started kindergarten. I didn’t react too well, I had had it made as an only child! One thing that my parents did right, though, is never, ever assuming that I was a “built-in babysitter”. They were careful to ask if I had plans FIRST, and if I was free, they would ask if I could watch babysit him. If I had plans, they had an older woman that lived nearby that appreciated the extra income. I really appreciated it, seeing how some of my friends were treated like the live-in nanny. It definitely cut down on the resentment.

mp

March 28th, 2011
2:19 pm

I just hope they had an agreement with a family memeber to adopt with child if complications such as this arose. Surely this was something they discussed. It is quite old to have a child indeed, but who are we to judge. I have a 14, 12, and 1 year old. The one year old was an unexpected blessing. I am 40 in a month, married to the same man for 18 years, and it is totally starting over…. can’t imagine doing it in my seventies though because 40 is much harder than 26!!

Techmom

March 28th, 2011
2:38 pm

I think it’s selfish to the child but money makes the world go round and even with laws and rules, I’m sure people will find a way around them. Sad situation. Our bodies simply weren’t made to have children at that stage in life.

RJ I cannot imagine! Congratulations but wow, shocking I’m sure. My son will be 16 in a month and although I’m still of child-bearing age, I cannot imagine starting over. I had him very young so most of our friends are having children now and don’t understand why I don’t want more. We do have some other friends though who have a 13 & 15 year old and just had a baby and they are thrilled, as are their kids (babysitting hasn’t yet kicked in yet!) I just wonder if they’ll be just as excited when their son is a senior and daughter is a sophomore and they’re still buying diapers! What a combo!

motherjanegoose

March 28th, 2011
2:39 pm

WHAT?

I am 51 and CANNOT imagine taking care of a newborn. I do not have the strength nor endurance.

congrats RJ…I was 13 when my youngest sister was born. We are close now. My neighbor has a 24 year old and a 10 year old. She is my age. Her older son is very sweet with the younger brother.

My parents ALWAYS thought of me as the built in babysitter. It was as if my Mom handed her to me. I learned how to do everything and my Mom’s friends, with infants, asked me to babysit. I remember one time, I was 17 or 18. My sister was ill. Mom told me that she should sleep with me…in case anything happened….right.
YEP…she woke up and vomited all over my bed. I called and called my Mom. She finally came in and I acted indignant that there was such a mess in the bed.
Oh BTW I had to go to HS in the morning. Add this story to all of the other kooky things I endured with my parents.

Anyway…my sister are I are VERY close now. She is wonderful with my kids. We are best friends. Our middle sister is not as close to either of us but she does not live in Atlanta.

Techmom

March 28th, 2011
2:46 pm

@MJG – I think sometimes the bigger age gap is better; it’s like there’s less rivalry and competition so you can be friends. My husband’s brother is 5 years younger than him and his sister is 10 years younger. He and his sister have always gotten along really well and he was definitely the built-in sitter by the time she was about 2. She was so sad when he went off to college. He and his brother fought like mad until they both got older. My brother and I are less than 2 years apart and have not been close since I started Kindergarten.

Coco

March 28th, 2011
2:57 pm

All those Lohan’s are nuts.

RJ

March 28th, 2011
3:03 pm

Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement! I definitely won’t be using them as babysitters. My youngest brother is 10 years younger than me and I most definitely was used as one. I had my first in my early 20’s. Most of friends are just now having babies. I guess the baby already has playmates!!!

TinaTeach

March 28th, 2011
3:08 pm

My MIL regretted having my SIL at age 39 (sadly enough she says she wishes she’d stopped at one, my Hubby, but that’s a whole nother ball o’ wax) because she was not only running a store but also almost 40! She was exhausted. Now she gets tuckered out chasing after our 18 month old. I can’t imagine her at age 72!

Jennifer

March 28th, 2011
3:08 pm

I’m 12 years younger then my sister and 13 years younger than my brother. I didn’t like it much as a child, but now that I’m in my 20s it’s great! And I’ve had nieces and nephews since I was 10, which I always loved.

But yeah, my sister is like a great 12-years-ahead-of-me life coach.

Best of luck and congrats!!!

motherjanegoose

March 28th, 2011
3:09 pm

I put my sister on the bus for Kindergarten. We lived on the farm and I walked down the hill to the bus stop with her on the first day of school. Probably about 1/2 mile. Mom stayed home and was not interested. Sometimes we wonder why she even had kids…she did not enjoy us the way my sister and I enjoy our kids. They add so much to our lives.

My Mom had me when she was 19, then my other sister at 22 and my youngest sister at 32. She acted like she was WAY too old for it. I had mine at 27 and 32 and did not feel old at all. Having one now, at 51 would be a nightmare for me!

I meet all sorts of little kids with older siblings and they are typically bright, almost like they have 3-4 adults who talk to them all the time. More hands to help and nurture, so it can really be a good thing
RJ!

Ghostrider

March 28th, 2011
3:17 pm

Ok…First of all, who in their right mind would want to have a kid at the old age of 72. The only word I could think of is selfish, stupid, ignorant. Ok I had a few extra words. If they had to borrow 3k to have the kid they couldn’t afford to have the baby to begin with. Morons…

Bob123

March 28th, 2011
3:22 pm

Congratulations RJ. I was so embarassed when I was 12 and learned my mom was having my 4th and final sibling. Everyone was going to know what my parents had been up to. It didn’t help that this was 35 years ago and Paul Anka’s “She’s having my baby” was all over the radio.

But I have to say, in the last 35 years, I am closer to Jeff than the other 3. He lived in my basement twice while he was trying to find a direction – my wife considers him her oldest. And now that he has started a family, is daughter is like our first grandchild.

All and all, worth the embarassment

Tami

March 28th, 2011
3:45 pm

You sound like an awesome big brother, Bob123. We’re close to the same age, so I can relate a tad.

And in reference to the topic: I will be 47 this year, and I’m single & childless. In my opinion, I’ve lived beyond the age I could ever think of IVF. If I had the kind of money it takes for IVF treatment, I’d probably adopt — if no one had objections to my being single. Right now, I live vicariously through my two young nephews.

Jeanine

March 28th, 2011
3:47 pm

People need to stop being so judgmental! If she wanted to experience having a child that’s her prerogative. True its not the best choice but who are any of you to judge!!!!

lizbeth

March 28th, 2011
3:53 pm

Unbelievable! This page reeks of selfishness. And it’s not from the women who are dying to have children. All of you women condemning other mothers could drop dead tomorrow. And, yet, you took a chance and had children. The saddest part of this is how unhappy you all seem to not only be mothers but to have been siblings as well. Your theory seems to be, older moms are gross, so pick an age and cut them all off. It is sad to see so much lack of compassion in this blog. While the women in this article have already had their children, the point isn’t how old a woman is when she becomes a mother; the point is whether you are able to listen to a woman’s feelings, without judgment, and help her find solutions that work. There are no good answers for any of us in condemning and treating full-grown women like a children.

Techmom

March 28th, 2011
3:56 pm

Jeanine, don’t you think this child wants to experience having parents too?

Brown Eyed Girl!

March 28th, 2011
3:57 pm

I was 35 yrs old when I had my first child. I had always said that if I didn’t have kids by 35, I would not have any because of the huge age gap. I had experienced it growing up the youngest of nine kids and my mom was 39 when she had me. There was a generational gap between us and I identified more with my oldest sister. My parents are now 89 and 81. Most of my friends have grandparents that age. I don’t mind it for me, but because I have young kids, its hard for them to relate. By the way, my little second “surprise” came when I was 38 yrs old. The pregnancy took a lot more out of me and I was considered high risk then. I can’t imagine being much older than I was. But I am grateful that God had other plans in mind for me. At 7yrs old and 4 yrs old, my two little men will tell you the other one is their best friend!

Romey Skreet

March 28th, 2011
4:01 pm

India needs more people to futher it’s population and the goal of having one person per each square foot.

Nobabies

March 28th, 2011
4:07 pm

Had a classmate who had her 4th child two weeks ago at the age of 39. That is not an old age and she didn’t look it either. I just went to her funeral on Saturday and it was really sad. The baby will never know it’s mother. It has also made me think that if I don’t have a baby by the age of 35 I’m closing up shop. The 72 year old is just selfish. They should of thought of having kids at an earlier age…

Alabama Southern Belle

March 28th, 2011
4:07 pm

I gave birth to my only children, twins, a few months past the age of 44. My girls are the world to me and well worth the risk! I don’t know about 50 or older…

@lizbeth, You are correct. The age of the mother doesn’t mean that she won’t see her children grow up. However, 70+ is pushing it a bit. My grandmother had her last child at age 43. She saw her youngest grow up and mature into a man. In fact, she is still very spry!

Kat

March 28th, 2011
4:16 pm

I agree that this woman’s actions were selfish….this couple was pretty much guaranteeing that their child would be an orphan before he reached adulthood. BUT (and I’m surprised no one has mentioned this) you are all overlooking the fact that this couple is from India, where traditions and cultural pressures are very intense. In poor, rural areas in particular, failure to bear a child is seen not as a medical issue, but as a curse, a sign that the couple has done something terrible and is being punished. They are treated as outcasts so their bad karma doesn’t rub off. Not to mention that if nobody knows of anything bad the couple did in this life to deserve their fate, they assume it was something they did in a previous life. I’m not defending their choice, just pointing out that you are all looking at it from a very western point of view.

Penny Bee

March 28th, 2011
4:18 pm

I’m at a loss, here, because I’m 42, and infertile, and my husband and I are waiting for someone to choose us to be adoptive parents for their baby/child. We went through a few years of treatments where nothing worked, and now I’m in my low 40s and going in this direction. I totally understand what the 70-something-year-old woman must have felt. I feel it myself – an incredibly emotional longing for a child, and knowing that you can’t make it happen. However, I do also feel that one must be responsible, too. Even if she’d stayed alive until her child was 18, she’d then be nearly 90. I feel crazy trying to adopt a baby/toddler at 42 with all these young moms and dads around – it’s nice to read posts like those above with folks in their 40’s having kids. Finally, some day, when someone picks me, we’ll have to have a play group!

motherjanegoose

March 28th, 2011
4:26 pm

uh…lizbeth, I ADORE MY KIDS and love my siblings too.

Cammi317

March 28th, 2011
4:28 pm

I’m 39 with a 13 y/o and I just can not see going through it again. 39 may not be old, but I feel too old to have another child. I don’t want to be in my 50’s trying to raise a teen, I don’t have the energy. They need to pull the license of the doctor who performed that procedure.

Darwin

March 28th, 2011
4:29 pm

Octomom still takes the cake.

jarvis

March 28th, 2011
4:33 pm

So the kid will be qn 18-month-old Indian living in poverty with a 73-year-old poor farmer dad? What could possibly go wrong?

Tee

March 28th, 2011
4:38 pm

@Nobabies, did the mom passing have to do with her having a baby at that age?

Mel

March 28th, 2011
4:39 pm

I would make the age limit for IVF 45. There’s a reason why women were not meant to carry babies after a certain age. Too many risks involved.

Some life for this 18 month old that she’ll have no recollection of her mother. Who knows where she’ll end up. And what gets me is if this woman dreamed about having a child “all” her life, why did she wait that long??? It’s not like she woke up at age 70 and said “well, my biological clock is ticking and it has to be now!” If IVF was the road she wanted to take, she should have done it years and years ago. Shame on the doctor who performed it on her at that age.

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 28th, 2011
4:52 pm

41 here….son about to turn 13. I love my son, but at the same time I look forward to leading a “child-free” life in 5. My parents had my sister and me early and by the time mom was 40 she had seen us both through high school and was ready to lead her own life and then become a grandma at 50….pretty awesome if you ask me. I wouldn’t have had a child after age 30, but that is me and everyone else is entitled to do their own thing. Selfish is a label that people put on others when they can’t imagine making the same decisions….meh, people spend way too much time worried about what other people are doing.

Lynn

March 28th, 2011
4:53 pm

RJ, I can so relate. I had my 4th at 42. What a surprise! When you think it’s menopause…. I now have children aged 20, 17, 16 and 5. The little one is so loved and has been such a blessing. It is a challenge though. You have teen issues and then repeating all of the activities and education of a little one.

Jamo

March 28th, 2011
4:55 pm

I’m 40, turning 41 next week, and expecting boy #2 at the end of April. I never thought I’d be having a baby at this age, but I got married relatively late in life and had boy#1 at the age of 35. Couldn’t afford to have another for several years, but now we’re in a better position and we went for it! Hubby and I (and my son) are very excited, and the pregnancy has been extremely smooth. I might be a little more tired this time around, but that might be because I have a 5 year old boy running around at home! I agree that 70 (okay, 50) is probably too old, but so many women nowadays are having babies into their 40s, and the vast majority give birth to healthy, happy babies.

Slightly different topic: Rod Stewart’s wife or girlfriend just had a baby, and I think Rod is in his mid or even late 60’s. Any outrage on that front, or is it considered okay to have older dads, just not older moms? Just curious what others think.

Techmom

March 28th, 2011
4:57 pm

@Nobabies – how awful for your friend’s husband and children. We had a mother of a couple of students at my son’s school die just a few weeks after giving birth to her 4th child this year. She was only 36. It’s just heart-breaking.

While no one knows how long we will live, this 72-year old certainly knows that she won’t live *that* much longer. Even if she lives a while longer, she will likely never see her child become an adult, get married, have his/her own children, be able to run, play or chase after her child or lead a normal parent-child life. I have no idea what adoption is like in India but I do know they have orphanages. Why didn’t she and her husband adopt a child years ago? There are all kinds of social stigmas out there but certainly if she longed to be a mother that much, she could have another way sooner in her life.

@Penny Bee – best wishes on a speedy match-up!

Techmom

March 28th, 2011
5:06 pm

@Jamo – I think Rod Stewart is a nut bag; I just googled it and he’s 66! Regardless of how rich you are, if you aren’t around to raise your kids, it’s pretty selfish to have them to begin with. But I think since his wife is younger it’s not exactly an outrage (she’s 40). I guess if you’re that rich, you can just pay a nanny to do the hard work like getting up at night, chasing a toddler around, etc.

Kat

March 28th, 2011
5:08 pm

Oh, my goodness. I don’t know which I find the most astonishing: your ignorance, your arrogance, or your narrow world-view. (If you think I’m talking about you, I probably am.)

Wayne

March 28th, 2011
5:08 pm

@Penny Bee: why are you waiting to have someone ‘pick’ you? Just curious. I’ll be 50 this year, wife is 5 years younger. We went through DCF and went to several get-togethers to find our own matchup, rather than wait for someone to pick us. He was not quite 2 when he came to our house. Great little boy and never would have had the quality of life he has with us.

He’ll be 5 this year, and my bio son will be 8. They are excellent together and it was the best thing we could have done for us and him.

catlady

March 28th, 2011
5:15 pm

Stupid knows no boundaries.

catlady

March 28th, 2011
5:53 pm

Congratulations, RJ. You have experience and a wider point of view with this one.

When I was getting married (at almost 21) I overheard my mother say, “I’m a month overdue.” I went around in terror for quite a while, thinking my mother (51) was going to be pregnant at my wedding. I knew she had been going through the “change”, but her mother had had a change of life baby at 45, so it was possible. When I confronted her, she said she was overdue for her doctor’s appointment. Humm. Still don’t quite believe that. I was an only child, and absolutely mortified that my mother would go that long and then get pregnant!

My great-grandmother died of childbed fever at 36, after baby number 13!

My own youngest, born when I was 33 (felt much older, due to all we had been through) has been tough to raise, but has brought much joy. God knew I needed her. Her name means, “God heard my cry.”

JATL

March 28th, 2011
6:30 pm

50 should be the absolute limit! If you haven’t figured out by then that you want kids- well too bad!

DB

March 28th, 2011
7:48 pm

@lizbeth: Well, TWG wasn’t asking a bunch of Indians what they thought — she was asking a bunch of Americans. Don’t take us to task for failure to consider her culture — that wasn’t the question. The question posed to a bunch of Americans was: How old is too old, and is it unfair to the child? Not: “Given the cultural mores of India, was this unreasonable?” We all look at it, as Americans, and go “Oh, hell, no!” But then again, most of us aren’t too worried about being reincarnated as a pig for all our shortcomings, either. And, frankly, they couldn’t care less what we think. That doesn’t mean we can’t shudder at it, the same as we might do for female circumcision, forced abortions for more than 1 child, or other cultural “norms”.

True — anyone can die at any time. But the odds for this 72 year old women were FAR higher than can reasonably be expected from a mother of childbirth age. If she simply considered herself a surrogate, then hey, have at it, Mom. But from the account, she was doing this because SHE wanted to be a mother and bear a child. Here’s a newsflash: She may have borne a child — hey, anyone with a working uterus can do that. But she will never be a “mother” to that child.

djm_NC

March 29th, 2011
8:56 am

@RJ-i had my last child one week before my 40th birthday. yeah what a surprise!! my other children were 17, 15 and 10…and everyone of them thought it was fantastic that i was having a baby-none of them had any negative thing to say at all about it…and today the youngest is about to turn 19 and all of my kids are very very close. so try not to worry about what your older kids will think-they may surprise you. i worried about being too old-would i live long enough to see her graduate or get married and have a child? i finally realized that some people die when they are 20 or 25 or whatever-we have no guarentees on our life. so please dont let these things become a big worry to you.

i think having a baby when you are 67 is wrong…if it was natural then maybe…but to choose it is selfish. she said she always dreamed of being a mother-but shes not going to be there to be a mother-now these kids are going to dream about having a mother. sad.

djm_NC

March 29th, 2011
8:58 am

scrath the 67..its early and i have no idea where that number came from.

Kat

March 29th, 2011
9:37 am

DB, true that Teresa’s question was not about this specific woman, but the answers certainly were. I am just atonished by how many people will spout off an opinion without ANY knowledge of the situation or the cultural and religious factors involved. A quick and easy internet search for info about Hinduism or the caste system in India would be a real eye-opener for most of the people who have posted on here. Everything has a context, nothing happens in a vaccuum.