We continue our Moms Over 40 series with an interview with Rachael Sokolic, wife, mother, and certified bad-ass. After many twists and turns in life, she became a mom at 45.
SPF: Thank you for speaking with me! Can you share a bit about how you decided to start TTC in your forties?
RS: I was living in NJ when my future business partner reached out and asked me to join forces with him. I moved back to PA in December 2011, was 35, and just started dating my future husband. When we got married in 2012, we stopped trying not to get pregnant, but nothing was happening. At the same time, my business was starting to grow exponentially, so we put baby making on the back burner. We divorced in 2015 which put a bigger damper on baby making.
I met my future wife shortly after my divorce and I never thought a family was going to happen. Of course, we would need a donor, but the conversation never came up, so I thought my four-legged children would be my only children.
It was do or die in the baby department by late 2019. My wife didn’t want to wake up in 30 years with regret for at least not trying to have a family. I was 43 and she was 41. We had our initial consultation at a fertility clinic where the doctor made two ridiculous suggestions. He said: 1) it was cheaper to go to a bar and have a one-night stand, and 2) we could go on a nice vacation and buy a luxury car for less than IVF. The man we wanted to entrust our future family with was mocking us. However, he is the best in the business. We bit our tongues and moved forward.
We did the Clomid Challenge and my body did not respond in producing additional eggs. Jaime produced 5 eggs which unfortunately never made it to the blastocyte phase of fertilization. We had two decisions. Try to get more eggs from Jaime or purchase younger, more viable eggs. At $12,000 per clutch (6-8 eggs) we had a 30% chance of conceiving. We purchased 2 clutches of eggs for a total of $24,000, and an 85% chance of conceiving. We had a total of 14 eggs which only produced ONE embryo. When we heard that news, I asked “what’s next if this doesn’t work?”. My wife said: “That’s it. There is no next. There is no more money.” At that point we had spent $56,000 out of pocket since neither our insurances covered fertility treatment.
We finally had a successful transfer after three failed mock implant runs. I found out I was pregnant with our son on August 12, 2021. I was 45 years old. Which means I would be close to 46 years old when my son was born.
Photo courtesy of R. Sokolic
SPF: Did you have an age cutoff (for TTC)? If so , how did you decide that?
RS: It was decided for us by the finances.
SPF: Did you find your age or being in a same sex relationship changed how providers (fertility clinic, OB, etc) treated you?
RS: Part of our fertility treatment required us to see a psychologist. There may have been an undertone regarding our age, but we see being older as being wiser. As mentioned above, I think our fertility doctor was a little dismissive to our situation due to our age, not to being same sex. My OBGYN kept asking me if I was going to have another baby during my pregnancy. When I mentioned my age, he said, “I delivered a baby to a 52-year-old woman. You’re not too old.” I had the BEST OBGYN and the best experience with him. I consider him family. He never ONCE made me feel inadequate about my age, my relationship, or the fact that our child was donor/donor.
SPF: How did you view motherhood as a younger person? Did you have a wish when you were in your 20s or 30s to become a parent?
RS: I bought my first car when I was 22 and it was a 4-door sedan, in case I needed to put a car seat in it. I became a registered dietitian because I could be home in the morning and afternoon for my kids. I always wanted to be a mom, but my love life was not compatible with that desire. By the time I was 28, I took motherhood off the table. I continued to convince myself that I didn’t like or want kids of my own until I got married at 37. We spent a year trying to have kids, but luckily it never happened since we divorced a year and a half after we married. At that point, I started accepting I would never me a mom. I had a very successful, fulfilling business and I loved my dog.
SPF: How does your experience parenting compare to what you thought it would be like?
RS: I had to sell my business to be the mother I wanted to be. I wanted to be there for all the firsts and I have ZERO regrets. I waited this long to have a family, I wanted to completely immerse myself in the experience. I didn’t think it would be as hard and isolating as it is, but again, it’s a short season of my life.
The first year was tough: nursing, pumping, scheduling around feedings, sleepless nights. My wife was a great support but most of the parenting fell on my shoulders. She manages the family farm, so her energies are spent taking care of the animals. We came home from the hospital after my c-section, and she went right back to work. I was home, recovering, taking care of my newborn, and had ZERO help. Once I was cleared to exercise, that helped with my mental status. Once I “allowed” my mother to take care of our son, I was able to get to the gym twice a week. As soon as I was able to schedule my life, the easier things got.
SPF: What’s a typical day like for you?
RS: We wake up at 530AM. I nurse him and we play in bed until 630AM. Then it’s breakfast until 7AM. We play outside and help on the farm until 9AM. Then it’s time to hit the gym. I joined the YMCA after his 1st birthday since they have childcare, which has been a huge life saver. We run errands after the gym. Home for lunch and play at 2PM. He naps from 3-430/5PM. Then we head outside for either a family horseback ride or to play in the creek. We play outside until 630PM. Then dinner and a bath. By 745PM, we are ready for books and bedtime. My wife puts him to bed and I finish with housework. We are both showered and relaxing by 9PM when we watch TV for an hour and then we head to bed. This is our Monday – Saturday schedule. Sundays are for family and friends.
SPF: What are some of the challenges of parenting a baby at this age?
RS: Not having a peer group. All of my friends are sending their kids to college, and I have a toddler. However, we start a mommy and me class in September. I have three YOUNGER friends with kids Jacob’s age. That’s been helpful. We have playdates. That’s really the only challenge. I’m sure if I had to factor working into the mix, it would be a different challenge.
The ONLY concern I have is will Jacob be bullied for having older parents. I don’t want him bullied because of our decision. I don’t care about the other mothers in the carpool line up or PTA meetings. I am who I am and can’t change that. But, God help the kid who makes fun of Jacob for having two, older moms.
“Bonus for being an older mom: I don’t take bullshit from anyone.”
SPF: What are some of the advantages of parenting a baby at this age?
RS: There are SO many. First, I know who I am as a person and what I want for our son. Second, I don’t give a rat’s ass what people say about how I am raising him. Third, I am more patient at this age. I can sit and watch him play without micromanaging him. Fourth, I’ve lived for myself and now I am ready to live for my son. I can forgo nail appointments, new shoes, and nights out, because everything I do is for my kid. I was too selfish 5, 10, 15 years ago. There is NO way I’d be the mother I am today at a younger age. I’ve had a successful business. I’ve traveled. I’ve partied like a rockstar. Now it’s HIS time.
SPF: Any words of encouragement you want to give to readers considering having a baby over 40?
RS: If you want to be a mother, you shouldn’t let anything stop you. If your eggs are bad, buy eggs. If your husband’s sperm is no good, do IVF, IUI or get a donor. Anyone who wants to be a parent, can and should do it. There are grants available to help with fertility costs. More companies are offering family planning benefits. Don’t live with regrets. At least TRY to have a family.
Some people have asked me if I worry about dying before Jacob is old enough to take care of himself. My answer, “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. I could get a terminal disease that takes me early. There are no certainties in life so why be afraid to have a family because of what if?” If I raise him right, he will be a self-sufficient man. That’s my job. And I LOVE every minute of it.
Rachael Sokolic is a registered dietitian and certified sports specific dietitian. Prior to motherhood, she was the co-owner of Marino’s Fitness, a personal training studio in Downingtown, PA. She sold her shares of the business to be a hands-on, stay at home mom. When she isn’t chasing Jacob around the farm, she enjoys riding horses, working out, and being in nature.
If you enjoyed Rachael’s story, check out Beyond The Egg Timer: A Companion Guide For Having Babies in Your Mid-Thirties and Older for more inspiring stories, accurate information, and coping advice. If you would like to be featured, email us!