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A New Hampshire teacher is now one of the oldest women in America to give birth. Barbara Higgins, 57, welcomed a baby boy on March 20.
“We’ve beat the odds,” her husband Kenny Banzhoff told NBC10 in Boston. “I’m so proud of her, she’s been a trooper through the whole thing.”
In 2016, the couple tragically lost their 13-year-old daughter Molly to an undiagnosed brain tumor. After her death, Banzhoff and Higgins decided to have a third child.
“I started having these dreams that I wanted to have a child, and I thought, ‘OK, Barb, that’s a little crazy,’” she said.
After much searching, the pair found an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic in Boston that would treat a woman in her 50s.
“Jack is here, he’s a little boy on the planet, and he gets to live a life,” Higgins explained. “Nobody gives birth to a baby and know with any certainty that they will be alive to see that baby grow up.”
She continued, “I don’t know how I will be in 10 years, but how will you be in 10 years? And why should Jack not get to be alive because I’m old?”
Higgins added that her third pregnancy was easy and breezy, thanks to her good genes and healthy lifestyle. She stayed active, did CrossFit and lifted weights until the day she gave birth.
Higgins and her husband used IVF to conceive their miracle baby. IVF uses a woman’s eggs — whether they be her own or a donor’s — and are fertilized in a lab by sperm. An embryo is then implanted into a uterus.
A woman’s egg quality and quantity go south most significantly in the mid-30s to early 40s, according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, which notes that a few women older than 44 are still fertile. By the time they reach menopause, around age 51 on average, they can no longer conceive naturally.
The oldest mother that was reported by Guinness World Records to deliver a child after conceiving naturally was 59. In 2019, a 74-year-old woman from southern India had twin girls via IVF and is reportedly the oldest woman ever to give birth, according to USA Today.