Couple opens up on their journey of having a child in their 50s
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - "When they see us with a child, they say,' Is that your grandchild?' and we are like,'No,'" said Pastor Daniel Russell Jr.
New parents Pastor Daniel Russell Jr. and Judith Russell get that question a lot. Their son was born a little over a year ago after years and years of trying.
"I always wanted a baby," said new mom Judith Russell.
The couple started in their 20s and again in their 30s.
"Getting discouraged, getting disgusted, getting frustrated," Judith said.
"In our 40s, it's taboo now to even think about a child," Pastor Russell said.
"We did almost everything naturally we could have done and started taking different avenues," Judith said.
The Russells say those avenues didn't work either.
"There were times we cried, there were times we laughed and there were times were we even questioned God," Pastor Russell said.
The Russells started considering adoption.
"But I saw how thick the paperwork was and I put it down," Judith said.
Judith's doctor recommended seeing reproductive endocrinologist Dr. John Schnorr, and at the time Judith was in her late 40s.
"The Russells were having decreased infertility from the decreased number and quality of eggs in the ovaries," Dr. Schnorr said.
Dr. Schnorr recommended egg adoption or egg donation. An egg was donated by a healthy young woman and fertilized with Daniel's sperm and placed back in Judith's uterus.
"When you go to the store and buy the egg, once the chicken hatches, that's your egg. So that's my philosophy," Pastor Russell said.
Dr. Schnorr says a woman's uterus can be healthy well into her 40s and 50s, as long as there are no underlying health problems.
National guidelines state egg donation can be done on healthy women age 55 or younger. Dr. Schnorr also says there are no apparent risks with carrying a baby and giving birth in middle age.
"I wanted to have my own child, carry my own child and for my husband to see me pregnant...all of that," Judith said.
After choosing a donor and having the procedure done, the Russells finally got the news they had prayed so long for.
Judith was pregnant at 51.
"I just burst out in tears and I just started crying," Judith said.
"Judy carried that baby like a young person," Pastor Russell said.
During Judith's eighth month of pregnancy, her husband surprised her with a ceremony to renew their vows.
"What a blessing that in November my wife was able to walk down the aisle pregnant and her dad on her arm," Pastor Russell said.
Fast forward 14 months, and the Russells are now learning the ropes as new parents with Daniel Russell III, also known as 3D.
"It was a good experience because at our age we never thought that we would experience that," Pastor Russell said.
The Russells say their prayers were answered because of their strong faith.
"There is hope, and don't give up. It can happen and I cannot imagine my life without him," Judith said.
Dr. Schnorr says donor egg treatments can cost anywhere between 15 to 25 thousand dollars.
Financing is available, and some insurance companies cover egg donor treatments.
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