Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a story emerges that gives you reason to pause. Please meet Annegret Raunigk, a 65 year old German mother of 13 with 7 grandchildren. On May 19, 2015, she made history by delivering quadruplets (four babies) at 26 weeks via emergency C-Section. It’s not clear why she had an emergency C-Section but thank God all four of the babies are okay for the moment. Raunigk is a single mother who works as a teacher. She conceived her four children by In Vitro Fertiliation (aka IVF) after finding a specialist who was willing to help her conceive. The cut-off for receiving IVF therapy is usually age 50 for most countries but it appears Germany has a different set of rules. Raunigk decided to conceive because her youngest child, age 10, desired younger siblings. Raunigk’s specialist reportedly made several attempts to impregnant Raunigk through fertility treatments before he succeeded. Although she was offered to “selectvely reduce the number of embryos, she declined. She now has 3 new sons and one daughter to add to her previous family of 9.
There is now an uproar in Germany (and perhaps the world) regarding Raunigk’s decision. I know what it’s like to be an older mother. Seven years ago my husband and I adopted our 6 and 7 year-old sons when I was 54. I was healthy at that time but had a health challenge last year that jolted my equilibrium into a tail-spin. Thank God my health has improved but it was a life-altering experience.
When I think about older women and multiple births, I immediately think about Lisa MacLaughlin, an exuberant 56 year old physician who died shortly after giving birth to twins. Or Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, the 66 year old mother of twins who died of cancer 2 1/2 years after giving birth. de Lara traveled from Spain to the U.S, paid $49,000 for IVF services and her sons are now rumored to be orphans. Then or course, there’s Erica Morales, who died shortly after giving birth to her quads at a much younger age of 36.
Supporters of Raunigk cite Robert de Niro and Rod Stewart, who both became fathers in their 60’s as a counter-point to justify Raunigk’s decision. Unfortunately there’s just one problem with that argument — men don’t die in childbirth. Women do.