Pregnant at 42 with six other kids: A mom shares her story

My friend sent me a great article from The Ladies’ Home Journal written by a 42-year-old mother who already had six kids and all of a sudden found herself pregnant. She was pretty panicked as I think most 40-year-old women with many other kids would be but her kids and her husband were thrilled. She shares that the experience has changed them all. I can only pull a few graphs so please click the link and read the whole story. She really did a lovely job on it.

From The Ladies’ Home Journal:

“In the summer of 2011 Jack and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe. Leaving the kids with our parents, we spent eight dreamy days traveling from Barcelona to the French Riviera, finishing up in Florence and Rome. Our actual anniversary was the week after we arrived home, so although we were in Tennessee now, not Tuscany, we partied on. Could it be that, amid all the fun, I lost track of the calendar? Calendar, you ask? I’m afraid so. After baby number six, my husband and I could not agree on birth control. Neither of us wanted surgery. The Pill made me crazy. We finally settled on natural family planning, which so far had worked just fine….

Each stage of childrearing has its unique challenges, but dealing with three teenage daughters was proving the toughest yet. Boys, body issues, peer pressure — these are not matters for the faint of heart. My oldest daughter was battling an eating disorder, my second daughter was figuring out where she belonged, and the third was just trying to adjust to high school. After a calm summer, we all felt overwhelmed with academic and social demands. And with my husband overseas, I was on my own….

She has an uneventful yet exhausting pregnancy. I love the image of her falling asleep before lunch. Her son told his teacher she was on bed rest even though she wasn’t – she was just always in bed. Flash forward and the baby arrived safely.

“We named him George Declan Bailey, and immediately this tiny infant cast his spell on the whole family. My husband beamed and passed out cigars as if George were our firstborn. Our oldest daughter, our youngest son, and every child in between just drank him in. All summer long the eight of us walked on a cloud. The teenage dramas dwindled. My anxieties about having enough time for everyone evaporated. We’d changed, I realized. And not because we had a baby; the baby changed us. My 15-year-old may glare and roll her eyes at me, but she looks at George and melts. He is the antidote for her teenage attitude. My 17- and 18-year-olds argue over who gets to walk Georgie to the library or take him to the grocery store. Hearing his little giggle and holding his chubby hand makes their high school problems vanish. Even my two boys want to make sure “Georgie can come” whenever they go outside to toss a ball. He has become everyone’s favorite.”

I totally get her point that it changed her family’s whole attitude and made problems seem smaller and brought them all together. But I have to say I would be horrified to find out I was pregnant again. I turned 42 on Tuesday and my 20th wedding anniversary is next week. (Note to self: Do not take luxurious European trip. Yikes!)

So what do you think of her story? Would you be upset or happy to find yourself pregnant at 42? Which is more scary – being an older mother or already having a bunch of kids? (Taking care of all the needs of that many kids is scary to me. )

47 comments Add your comment

Kat

April 10th, 2014
6:47 am

If I didn’t want to change what I had, I would have been more responsible. I wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops that I was incompetent, and that my husband wouldn’t do “his share” for birth control. Good thing it worked out for them, but I don’t believe it is sunshine and flowers all the way. Check in with the family when the baby is a little older, more bothersome to the older kids, and the older ones have moved out.

yuki

April 10th, 2014
7:05 am

I’m 39 and I only have two kids, but I have plans for NO more and made sure it will stay that way. I was on the pill for many many years and after baby #2 I told my husband it was his turn. He obliged and we are and plan to stay a foursome. I’m glad it worked out for them, but I’d be really upset if I found myself pregnant at this point. I want to be done with the baby stuff. If it happened (I know v’s aren’t foolproof) then we would deal with it…and love the baby all the same. In this day and age it’s really not a big shock to have a baby at 42, but it’s not in this girl’s plans!!!!
In my opinion, if they were really sure they didn’t want any other kids, they should have taken more permanent steps….there are a lot of things available out there. I mean seriously…..

Macy

April 10th, 2014
7:11 am

I would just die! Lol. No thanks. I love my kids, but they are grown and just about out the door. No way would I want to start over at 42….my life is good now, they kids are self sufficient, and hubs and I are enjoying our free time more and more. No big trips to Europe planned, but we have lots of road trips planned this summer. Couldn’t do that with an infant in tow.

Me

April 10th, 2014
7:11 am

I certainly have no sympathy for them just as they would have none for any of us should the same scenario exist. Be responsible. We figured out, by some manner and quite some time ago, what caused those pregnancies and took the steps to prevent such from being a possibility again. I’m not at all saying anyone should abort and we wouldn’t either but “natural family planning” – whatever that really is – isn’t sufficient as I prefer to “hedge” my bets better than that…

catlady

April 10th, 2014
7:19 am

I hope it works out well for them. Seven kids is a lot, and seems irresponsible given the limited resources we have on this earth. It also seems scary from a health point of view, for both her and the child.

She should not be surprised if her own kids have “surprises” like this one, in the future. Kids follow their parents’ modeling, in my observation.

mom2alex&max

April 10th, 2014
7:20 am

Oh gawd I would be devastated! My family is COMPLETE. My children are 11 and almost 14; no way would I want to start over.

Because of that, we took permanent steps to remain a family of four. Glad it worked out for them, but the whole tone of the article tells me it wasn’t much of a big deal anyways. I wonder, at 6 kids already, does it really matter to add one more? Seems you crossed the Rubicon at that point.

FCM

April 10th, 2014
7:32 am

I am 44 and cannot imagine another child. The 2 I have are enough. Their father and his wife are thinking babies…good for them. We still hope my brother and his wife will be blessed with a baby soon.

Good luck to this family

Real Life

April 10th, 2014
7:35 am

I realize that all families are not the same, but I watched two friends go through similar late and surprising pregnancies. And in both cases their teenaged girls were absolutely horrified and embarrassed about the pregnancy. They showed it in different ways but they were simply mortified. And it got even worse when they realized that they would not have the money for prom and other high school activities because of the new baby. I doubt all is as “happy family” as the writer says. She mentions a few problems but skims over them with how happy all are with the new baby. New babies have never solved family problems and it is unlikely that this one did. Focus is on the new baby but the problems facing the teenagers will not have magically disappeared. Mom needs to open her eyes and see all her children before it is too late.

(the other) Rodney

April 10th, 2014
8:08 am

Gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough. Now you’re booked until you’re about 55. Enjoy.

Techmom

April 10th, 2014
8:56 am

I’m sure another baby changed the dynamic of their family… it always does. I have seen lots of families see positive changes after having baby with teenagers but what happens after those teenagers leave the house and the parents in their mid-40s are left with an elementary-aged kid when they’re “done” parenting. I’m sure it’s a difficult thing to get used to having self-sufficient kids who drive and then when they’re gone, the parents are back to caring for a younger child again. By the time that kid gets to middle or high school, those older parents having usually checked out. I’m not saying this is ALWAYS the case, I’m just saying that I’ve seen it happen a lot with my son’s friends who have older parents.

Techmom

April 10th, 2014
8:58 am

Sorry for the typos… multitasking gets the best of me sometimes!

A

April 10th, 2014
9:16 am

I am 44 and have only one child and never wanted more. I am militant about birth control and would be beyond devastated if anything were to happen. For me, it’s not just an age thing, although that’s certainly an issue. I just wanted one and for 11+ years have been extremely happy with just the one kid and have no interest in more.

Eddie

April 10th, 2014
9:24 am

That’s one selfish baby.

HB

April 10th, 2014
9:37 am

I’ve seen similar positive changes in families with a late unexpected baby. With those teens, it seemed to divert some of their attention from themselves — cut down on the teen angst and self-absorption a bit. They started willingly taking on more family responsibility to help out, but they also were in families well-off enough that the baby didn’t bring enough financial burden to impacted their own activities and college plans. One mom of a late baby once told me how much they enjoyed their last child and how much more relaxed they felt, partly because they were in better shape financially and at a point in their careers where they had seniority, lots of built-up sick leave, and their schedules were more flexible. Taking off a little early to catch a tee ball game or having to take a sick day when the child was ill wasn’t as difficult as when they were in their 20s.

jarvis

April 10th, 2014
10:43 am

We have friends (that we’ve met through our sons) that have a 7-year-old. He was conceived in a similar fashion, on their 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Carribean. Mom and dad were both 47 when he was born.

His older brother and sister are now both out of college and working as professionals.

They are still extremely active parents which is great considering they are both 54 now. I hope to be winding down into a relaxing life about then, but they seem to do great with it.

I had a snip done after our 2nd child. Best decision I ever made.

Denise

April 10th, 2014
11:05 am

My girlfriend found herself pregnant with twins at 40 and we laughed. She and her husband said they didn’t “plan” J1 and J2 but if you are not practicing any prevention you are planning it in my opinion. They didn’t get pregnant for 6 years so I guess they thought they were “safe”. Ha! NOT! They have a high school senior who they hope graduates from high school (I don’t even want to know the story so I don’t ask) and a soon-to-be 7 year old, who I think hung the moon. The little boy is so excited about being a big brother! My friend is tired but who isn’t with twins. They are adjusting and making the best of the situation. She sends me videos of the boys and seems to be happy. Had she been 42, maybe she would have been a little less thrilled with the surprise but hey! When you don’t do your due diligence to NOT get pregnant, you might end up pregnant. Isn’t that the moral of the story?

a_mom

April 10th, 2014
11:17 am

I probably have a different perspective since had trouble getting pregnant and had my two children in my forties. I always dreamed of having four kids, but thank the good Lord for the two blessings I have. I know that’s different than someone who already has teenagers, but I just wanted to say don’t count out older parents as non-involved. I am always a room mom for both kids, take them to activities, go camping and biking, play ball with them, etc. I may not have the energy I did in my twenties, but I do a lot more than some of the younger moms who don’t take their kids on hikes or attend all the school activities and such. Don’t assume that being older will make the parents lazy or resentful of this baby. I think it makes me more appreciative.

catlady

April 10th, 2014
12:01 pm

I think I worry more out of fear of birth defects. Yes, I know they can happen no matter the age, but leaving a handicapped child when you die is a parent’s worst fear.

Secondly, my concern would be the other kids in the family, and its long term impact on them.

Third, I worry about the parents’ ability to cope as they get older.

Luckily, it is none of my business. I wish them well.

Rod

April 10th, 2014
12:06 pm

Reading these comments it is pretty clear that people really don’t like children and certainly don’t see them as bringing value to family life. All this talk about birth control and snipping etc.,

@Rod

April 10th, 2014
12:25 pm

Maybe people just realize that a child or more than one child is a lot of work and money and something not to be considered lightly. Just because people want to limit/control the sizes of their family doesn’t mean they don’t value children. Why would you want more children than you could properly care for? That makes no sense.

Me

April 10th, 2014
12:27 pm

@Rod — To whom on this blog are you referring? I don’t recall seeing anyone stating a “dislike” for children. After all, I believe most who have posted have referenced having children. The blog topic is about having an “unexpected” child. As far as “birth control” all I stated is that “we” took measures to prevent that from becoming a reality. How do you know we didn’t both become celibate? This would certainly accomplish the same goal.

betsy

April 10th, 2014
12:39 pm

I’ve always hoped for a surprise baby. I’m 39, and my youngest baby is only 1, so I doubt I’ll have the big age difference/crazy surprise. But how fun! I’m jealous of those that it happens for.

SEE

April 10th, 2014
12:58 pm

Actually, I got the same impression as Rod. Unexpected children are not a blessing? Tell that to my four boys who jumped for joy when we stated we were expecting again. Yes, children require expense and sacrifice, but anything worthwhile requires that. What else is more worth my time and money? Even my sons realize that. Heck, even other kids realize that. We have a couple of little neighborhood boys who are over all the time, even at Christmas. This Christmas, as these two boys catalogued their list gifts, one of my sons commented, “We don’t that much.” Without missing a beat his friend piped up, “You can have my stuff, I’ll take your brothers!”

TLH

April 10th, 2014
1:08 pm

Yeh….no. I have 4 kids…the oldest is 10 yrs older than the next one, and there is less than 2 yrs between #2 and #4. I AM DONE and took permanent steps to make sure. I am preparing to welcome my first grandchild this Fall. I cannot imagine being a parent of a newborn all over again. They’re fun to snuggle and coo over, but they are so. much. work. As newborns and for the next 4, 5 yrs.

I am enjoying the age my kids are now (late elementary/early middle school)…I wouldn’t want to add a diaper bag, feeding/napping schedule, teething and late night feedings to the mix!

Me

April 10th, 2014
1:52 pm

@SEE – Unexpected children can definitely be a blessing and you and @Rod are entitled to your opinions. But, again, I don’t recall anyone stating they wouldn’t be “blessed” only that such isn’t in our plans and, as such, we are taking measures to prevent such an unexpected blessing. As I stated in my first post, I am not at all stating that these kids should be aborted, placed for adoption, or anything remotely similar. I certainly never stated such would not be a blessing. But, as per the story, these parents had not planned on other children while, at the same time, were taking no measures to prevent such. If I were in that scenario then I would gladly accept whatever fate was dealt and be happy. I think you are reading too much into these responses.

Been There

April 10th, 2014
2:13 pm

I have been in this exact situation. A fourth baby at age 42 with 3 older children in high school and middle school. The new baby was a surprise but as one of my children said the kind of surprise where you get something wonderful that you didn’t even know you wanted.

She has been a wonderful addition to our family and we all love her very much. Yes, my life is different from that of my peers in that I have 3 in college and we are reviewing math facts again in 2nd grade . I would not change a thing though. She completes our family and we all say we couldn’t imagine life without her.

janet

April 10th, 2014
2:18 pm

This couple can do what they want but isn’t 6 children enough for one couple? “They could decide on a form of birth control”….sounds like an excuse to me.

Tiffany

April 10th, 2014
2:41 pm

Being pregnant again at ANY age when you already have six kids is pretty scary. Good luck to them!!!

Just Me

April 10th, 2014
2:50 pm

I’m approaching 40 and my husband is mid-40s. We have 3 teenagers (14-16), a 10 year old and a one year old. I never expected to have any more kids and it wasn’t “planned” but I wouldn’t change it for the world. This baby has brought so much joy to our family and I now can’t imagine our lives without him. I’m quite sure our teenagers feel the same way. They light up when they’re around him. Had you asked me two years ago, I would have told you no way in hell.

jarvis

April 10th, 2014
2:58 pm

There is a huge jump in logic to assume that I don’t find value or enjoy my kids because I don’t want anymore of them.

And for the record, no not all children are blessings. Because you can procreate doesn’t always mean you should.

I know….pretty selfish of me to not want something that doesn’t exist.

Tom

April 10th, 2014
3:08 pm

in an era that supposedly values “social responsibility” there are few things I can think of more socially irresponsible than having seven kids…

Denise

April 10th, 2014
3:34 pm

a_mom – I feel you! I am 41 and would LOVE to be a mother. I am single and without children. Looks like I will never carry a child because of medical issues. I have to come to grips with that and it has been hard. Although I SAY I might be too old to run behind a newborn, if my medical issue did not exist I would be jumping for joy if I got such a surprise. I laughed at my friend for having twins at 40 because they didn’t prevent it and they were caught off guard, thinking they were done. Nope, caught you slipping. But I envy her her family a little bit. ONLY envy a LITTLE bit because I have a LOT of great things going on in my life.

xxx

April 10th, 2014
3:35 pm

Have as many as you want, as long as you can afford them.

How about this Tom?,Having one kid and being forced to support someone else’s six, To me,that is epitome of social irresponsiiblity.

K's mom

April 10th, 2014
3:51 pm

My mom was that surprise baby when my grandparents were 44 and 47 and had daughters who were 22, 17 and 14 along with a Son-in-Law and a 2yo grandchild. That was 1949, so there were not as many birth control options. The adored my mother and she was very close to 2 of her sisters. The third sister was not close to any of them, so I do not think age had much to do with it. I was 35 and 37 when my kids were born and would have loved a 3rd, but had severe endometriosis and had a hysterectomy when my youngest was 8 months old. I do have an issue with the “shock factor” of this if they have 6 kids and are not using reliable birth control. If you are not using birth control, you should be shocked if you don’t get pregnant.

As for those who have mentioned older kids being put out about younger kids because it ate up prom and extra curricular money. Have these kids not heard of getting a job. I had one when I was in High School and guess what, my mom made my prom dress and it was prettier than the rest. AND my parents could afford for me not to work and to buy a dress, but they actually taught me to be a bit self sufficient and work ethic. The new baby was not the problem with those girls, it was just that they were entitled brats.

RJ

April 10th, 2014
4:58 pm

Well, if I recall, I shared my news on this blog a couple of days after I learned I was preggo again! I had one in middle school and one in high school. It was absolutely unplanned. Let me tell you, I AM LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT! This child brings us all such joy. Being in my 40’s has its advantages. First, I am much more financially stable. I’ve been able to go a little overboard with some of the developmental toys that I couldn’t afford with the first two, especially the first. People always ask me if I get tired. Nope! I teach elementary school. I am always running behind someone’s kid. Plus, my other two are very attractive in sports and music, so there’s never a dull day. I was never horrified to learn I was pregnant, just really shocked. She is the cherry on top for our family. Her siblings adore her. As for them missing out, it didn’t happen. We’ve never lived a lavish lifestyle. They still get to participate in what they were before I was pregnant. I have three aunts that had children at 39, 42 and 45. All but one was a late “surprise”. Oh yeah, my husband was a surprise too. His mom was 39! I wish your friend well. It seems that the baby is doing just what mine has done…give everyone joy!

RJ

April 10th, 2014
4:59 pm

Ooops! I meant “active” although they are attractive:)!

Kate

April 11th, 2014
1:28 am

It is sad that birth control is essentially mandatory in our culture. Women have been bearing more than the requisite 2 children since mankind has existed, it’s not the end of the world to have a 7th child. There are many people who have contributed greatly to the world who were born into large families, Thomas Edison was a 7th child.

I thought I was done after my 2nd, but now we have 6. And at 35, I would love to have a few more.

motherjanegoose

April 11th, 2014
7:17 am

Late to the dance. I have two friends who both had their youngest in their forties. They are wonderful mothers and adore their sons.

I personally would not have been too happy. I had two children, a boy and a girl and that is what I wanted.

I am 54 and enjoy the freedom of no children at home. I work with children most days and love them but also love to come home to a quiet house too.

Having 6 children and then a 7th, is not easy for most families today. Financially, physically and emotionally …it is a difficult task. A lot more is expected than when families had an entire flock of children. Most kids did not get their own car to drive and many did not even consider going to college much less their own bedroom.

If you can afford it and want a large family, then it is none of my business. Hopefully you will always have the funds to support your family. We knew a large family at church and often, they mentioned helping with $$$ for their kids to go to camp. UMMM…my own kids worked odd jobs all year to help pitch in for camp. HELLO?

catmom

April 11th, 2014
7:45 am

Birth control isn’t rocket science. There are other options besides NFP (which doesn’t work–hello!), the pill, or surgery. Oh, well. Sounds like they made lemonade out of lemons.

EA

April 11th, 2014
9:09 am

After reading many of the comments, I was saddened to see how selfish everyone has become. Babies are gifts and we should all be more open to receiving them. Sometimes the things in life we don’t think we want are just the things we need!

jarvis

April 11th, 2014
10:45 am

Selfish? Not wanting something you don’t have is selfish? Focusing on the family you have and the people you love is selfish?

Lay down the logic on that for me please.

Travie Andrews

April 11th, 2014
12:02 pm

I am 34 with two munchkins and no plans for more! God bless and keep them with 7! WHEW!! What a great article to showcase how her anxiety on once again becoming a mom turned into a great thing for their family!

Kat

April 11th, 2014
1:04 pm

I don’t think babies should be “surprises.” The gender of the baby as a surprise – sure. But the birth of another human being should never be something that just occurs. We’ve evolved as a species since then.

Good luck to all parents no matter their ages or the kids’ ages!

Kat

April 11th, 2014
1:06 pm

Ask the women at the local “clinics” how important planning is. If you have the resources to take care of a baby, have at it. But, if you aren’t preventing, and you can have them, then prepare to be blessed. Hopefully, not Duggar blessed, but that’s what you’re referring to right?

RJ

April 12th, 2014
7:17 am

@Kat, my best friend got pregnant on birth control at 20! Yikes! She was so upset because she didn’t want kids, especially that young and unmarried. She said she never missed taking them. The doctor told her she was in the 2% that could get pregnant. I’ve met two women that got pregnant AFTER their tubes were tied. The only sure fire method of birth control is abstinence. If that’s what I have to do to not get pregnant, expect me to have several more…IJS.

Blessing

April 13th, 2014
9:42 am

First, I am shocked by the number of people who chose to have children in their 20’s! My twenties were college, career, traveling, socializing! No way could I even think about settling down and having the responsibility of children. Secondly, it is amazing that so many people are oblivious to the fact that bad things happen, even when you think you are in control and have your life planned to a “T”. So you have your one or two children and then tragedy strikes. So now you have no child, or their sibling is left alone. Now what? I envy the larger families! I think it is wonderful to know you are leaving a large, loving family to your child and they will never be alone. If my husband had agreed I would have had more children in a heart beat! They are blessings no matter when they arrive. Yes, they cost money, but that is why you should have them later in life when your are financially secure, and you do not have to pay strangers to raise them. I know a lady who is in her 80’s that lost her only child 2 years ago. She has nothing now and is intensely lonely. It is tragic to see. Just pointing out that life can’t always be planned perfectly, so do not discount the value of children and what they can bring to a family.

DB

April 15th, 2014
9:50 am

Well, I’m a little past the panic stage at this point — according to my body, that train has left the station. :-) But I would have been very discombobulated to find that I was pregnant in my 40’s — it just wasn’t part of my plan.

But you know what John Lennon said: Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. If it had happened, we would have figured out a way to deal with it. I was charmed by the writer’s description of how her children fell in love with the baby. I love to see families where the siblings obviously adore each other.