Caitlin O’Kane – CBS News
After years of trying to conceive a baby, Susie Troxler fulfilled her dream of becoming a mom – at age 50. Troxler and her husband, Tony, have been together for 13 years and always wanted a child, but it never happened. That is, until Troxler met Dr. Carolyn Harraway-Smith.
“We got married later in life, obviously, and we just assumed we would get pregnant like most people,” Troxler, who is a psychologist in Greensboro, North Carolina, told CBS affiliate WFMY.
“One year turned into two, then three, but when it got to be nine, 10, 11 years, we were like, something is up, and I’m not sure what it is,” she said.
She said both she and her husband, who is 61, had some medical issues that challenged their desire to conceive a baby. On top of that, women’s fertility declines as they age. “I am 50. I was born in 1971, and I have no shame in that whatsoever,” she said.
But during an annual check-up, Troxler met Harraway-Smith, Cone Health’s chief medical officer for women’s health. “Near the end of my appointment, Dr. Harraway-Smith asked, ‘Is there anything else?'” Troxler said, according to a news release from the hospital. “If she hadn’t asked that question, then this baby probably wouldn’t be here.”
Troxler told the doctor that she wanted to become a mom, but she and her husband faced challenges conceiving. “I was disappointed to hear her say that no one had ever queried them or given them their options for fertility,” Harraway-Smith said. “I would advise anyone who wants to conceive to speak to your provider and let them know your concerns and future goals for planning a family.”
Harraway-Smith talked to Troxler about her options and they decided in-vitro fertilization would be best.
In-vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, is the complex process of collecting mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm to create embryos. These embryos can then be frozen or implanted into the uterus, for the woman to carry.
Nearly 100% of 50-year-old women are unable to conceive naturally, according to a 2014 study. IVF does not reverse the effect of age. Studies also show that after age 50 years, conceiving via IVF could have a higher risk of premature delivery, low fetal size and birth weight, and fetal mortality.
“I don’t think pregnancy at this late age is for everyone. There are risks involved for both you and the pregnancy, including miscarriage and diabetes, among other health issues,” Harraway-Smith told WFMY.
The Troxlers went through IVF for two years without any luck. “None of that worked, and we were down to our last embryo,” Troxler said.
The last embryo was implanted and the couple finally conceived a baby. “They bring me into the ultrasound, and the first thing they said was, ‘Oh, she’s moving!’ I was like, ‘Yes!'”
The couple welcomed their daughter Lily, who they call their “miracle baby” on September 29. Lily was born at 5 lbs, 12 oz. and was delivered by Harraway-Smith herself.
“It was so surreal,” Troxler said. “Everything had come together for that moment to happen. It’s hard to wrap our heads around – we’re no longer just husband and wife, we’re ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy.'”
“It’s always a treat when I can manage a pregnancy and complete the delivery, but this was extra special,” Harraway-Smith said. “As I was starting the c-section, Susie was humming a gospel song that I am very familiar with. I knew we were both in good hands.”
Although their baby is a miracle, Troxler’s husband said he always knew they’d become parents. “We knew eventually we would have kids,” said Tony, who also works at Cone Health’s Moses Cone Hospital and the Women & Children’s Center as a security team lead. “We wouldn’t give up. We had that faith. We dreamed of her. We knew no matter how it was going to happen, that it was going to happen.”
“Before she was even born, she had me wrapped around her pinky,” he said about Lily. “I love her so much. Every time I look at her, I feel myself just staring at her. It’s amazing!”
The Troxlers call Lily their “little warrior princess,” and they hope their story can inspire others. “After you do your homework, just go for it,” Troxler said. “You never know what life will unfold for you. The last thing you want is to say, ‘I’m too old.’ You don’t want that to be the end of any dream. Follow your dreams all the way to the end.”
The couple is home with Lily, now two months old. “We are thrilled. Sleep-deprived, but totally beyond worth it. She is a miracle baby,” Troxler said.
feature image: Cone Health