Last-Chance Babies

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Dez Stephens

Dez Stephens, 45

Nashville, Tennessee

Gave birth to Merritt at 43

When Dez Stephens got divorced, her daughter, Aubrey Smith, was 7. From then on Dez was on her own as a parent. It was a struggle, and whenever Aubrey asked for a sibling, Dez thought, No way. Then she fell in love with Chuck Stephens, who was 14 years younger and wanted a child of his own. "I thought, 'How can I take that opportunity away from him?'" The couple married in 2006 and immediately started trying to conceive.

Aubrey had been a surprise, but having a child turned out to be a lot harder two decades later. Dez and Chuck tried for two years, with one pregnancy ending in miscarriage, before they sought medical help. Her doctor blamed their fertility problems on "older eggs." The couple was just about to try an aggressive treatment when Dez realized she had gotten pregnant the old-fashioned way. And in February 2009, at age 43, she gave birth to her son, Merritt.

Dez says that being 20 years older has made a big difference in her parenting attitude -- she loved slowing down and enjoying life at her son's speed. "I was always rushing Aubrey and trying to fit her into my agenda," she confesses. But having a 22-year-old and a 2-year-old does raise some eyebrows. At a recent school reunion her classmates showed off pictures of their grandkids. "When they found out I had a baby, half of them were like, 'Go girl!'" she says. "The others thought I was crazy." At this point she thinks the double takes are funny. But Dez does wonder what it'll be like when she attends Merritt's college graduation. "Will everyone assume I'm the grand-mother?" For now, though, she says, "It just all feels perfectly right."

Continued on page 3:  Colleen Kavney

 

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