Turning 60 is a big deal. That’s 60 years of acquired wisdom and years of shared moments and experiences with loved ones. For many, it’s also the start of retirement and a time to change focus from career to enjoying new hobbies.
But, for this 60-year-old, it was the beginning of motherhood to a set of twins. Lauren Cohen is now known as the oldest woman to birth twins in the U.S., but because of her age, the journey to stay healthy for them is a hard one, especially among everyone’s judgment and disapproval.
Age Is Just A Number
Lauren Cohen was out living her best life one day, dancing her heart out at a dancing class, when she noticed one particular dancer. She figured maybe she could ask him to dance despite seeming so much younger than her. She remembers: “I never thought he could be interested in a woman so much older. He was a great dancer, so I asked him to dance one night and he said yes.”
At that point, Lauren was divorced from her ex-husband, who was himself 66 years old after just two years of marriage. Lauren and her dance partner quickly grew an attraction for one another. Even though there was 20 years between her and Frank, they soon fell in love. Despite the age gap being a concern at first, it quickly became just a number, and the pair went on to get married.
Time Was Of The Essence
Lauren and Frank were ready to build a future together no matter how old they were. The only issue was that Lauren knew that her husband really hoped to have a family and she wanted him to have that experience. She wanted him to have children to watch grow up rather than simply watch his wife age.
Lauren explains: “It scared me to think that Frank might end up looking after a woman in his 80s with nothing else in his life. And by then, he’d be too old to start again with someone else.” So the couple decided they would somehow still have children, but they would have to act fast: “I didn’t want to be responsible for him having no children, so we decided to do something about it – fast.”
First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Babies
The couple looked into IVF to start a family but many doctors turned her away because of her age, as she was in her late 50s. This made the process devasting. Lauren recalls: “I was older than the maximum age you were allowed to start the process with at many units…It was horrible. I was determined that Frank should have a proper family, but we kept getting rejected.”
When she finally was accepted at a clinic, the process didn’t get any easier: “There were so many tests – I did everything from running on a treadmill to seeing a psychiatrist before they’d even attempt IVF. But since I was in good health, I eventually got the OK.” With the help of donor eggs, Lauren had three embryos implanted. This was the only way, as she already had gone through menopause.
Becoming The Oldest Mother To Bear Twins
The IVF process worked, and the couple became pregnant. First, they had a daughter, then a year later, Lauren found out she was expecting twins! When she was close to her 60th birthday, Lauren delivered twins, Gregory and Giselle, also via IVF using donor eggs. This helped her set the record of the oldest mother in the U.S. to bear twins, and her accomplishment equals the world record set by an unidentified British woman on Christmas Day 1993.
However, Lauren says: “I don’t feel like a record holder. Except for arthritis, I’m in excellent shape.” Yet, staying in shape is its own hurdle…
Extreme Measures To Stay Healthy
With three young children, Lauren made it her top priority to stay as healthy. Her motivation is her children: “I want to play with the kids and push them on swings,” she says. Plus, her dream is to watch her children attend college. To make this dream a reality, Lauren does pilates and yoga every week. She also takes a lot of supplements: “I take 98 pills a week, a mix of medicine and dietary supplements. I hope they give me long enough.”
Yet Lauren doesn’t mind: “I’ll do whatever it takes to live as long as I can,” she says. “I’ve set a target of seeing them through college. I’ve got to keep going for 17 years – until I’m 81.” Lauren has even signed up as a member of Life Extension, an organisation helping readers of its magazine live as long as they can.
Disowned By Her Own Daughter
Lauren’s journey hasn’t all been joyful. Sadly for Lauren, becoming an older mom didn’t sit well with her oldest daughter Renne. In fact, Renne expressed that was “disgusted” when she found out her mom was pregnant and disowned her. “Renee was horrified when I told her I was pregnant. She said it was unnatural and abnormal…She then got really upset and started crying, telling me it was improper.”
Now they only see each other four times each year, when they meet in a restaurant. The saddest part is that Lauren can’t have a relationship with her grandchildren: “I can’t see my granddaughter Hannah, 16 months, because of it,” she says. Renne won’t set foot in Lauren’s home: “How can I possibly get to know my grandchild inside a restaurant?”
Despite the disagreement, Lauren feels like she made the right choice: “It breaks my heart to have mostly lost contact with her. I’m really disappointed, but I had to do it.”
Being an older mom isn’t easy for Lauren, in fact, people often assume that she is the grandmother. However, despite her daughter’s disapproval and the judgment of others, Lauren is happy and focused on being around her children for as long as possible: I’ll do whatever I can to make sure I last as long as possible. I take the right foods along with everything else.
She knows her time will come eventually but by then she wants to have everything set for her family: “When I die, I know Frank will have a good network of children around him. He’s really close to the kids and they’ll give him something to live for when I inevitably start to fade.”
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Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives