Parents of a Certain Age

Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?

Lisa Miller

The first time they had sex, during that initial exploration of unfamiliar flesh, John Ross uttered words to Ann Maloney that would sound to her like prophecy. “You have the body of a young girl. You need a baby.”

This compliment, though gallant, could not have been objectively true. The first time Maloney and Ross had sex, he was 54 and she was 47. Maloney may have looked good for her age, but she most certainly did not have the body of a young girl. And the subject of babies, not in wide use as a come-on in any cohort, might have struck another woman so deeply middle-aged as creepy. But Maloney had no children at the time, and she wanted them—badly. As she recalls that ancient intimacy over martinis at an Upper East Side restaurant, her voice reverberates with remembered pleasure. Her husband gazes on fondly as she describes the moment when, as she approached 50, her fantasy came true. Maloney had deferred motherhood for the typical reasons: an unhappy first marriage and a late career switch—in her case from interior designer to psychiatrist—that required years of school and training and a radical relocation from suburban Texas to New York City. When she met her future husband, Maloney was establishing her practice and building a national reputation. She was, finally, ready.

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