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Absurdly Elderly Mother

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"Are they gonna live happily ever after, Mama?"
"Of course, my dear. Of course."

Unlike men, who never stop producing sperm and can father children at any age,note  women experience menopause, which typically begins at some point between their mid-40s or early 50s, where the menstrual cycle stops completely, barring any production of egg cells so they can't conceive children.

Not for these women. The thought of having children at an age beyond 50 is very unlikely. They're old enough to be grandmothers, but unknown to them, their biological clocks are still ticking. That revelation can cause several reactions; It's a wonder especially for an old woman who longed for a child, and it's a shock for another old woman who had children to have another one at that age.

Note that this does not apply to immortals, and thanks to medical advances in a future setting, women living longer may also be a Justified case of also extending the viable child-rearing age.

Can be Truth in Television in part because menopause takes time and occurs at different ages depending on the woman. Women over 60 will have a slimmer chance of being impregnated naturally, so artificial means such as in-vitro fertilization are highly recommended. This can also be possible if the mother uses eggs from a donor, although the child will not biologically be hers. And being pregnant and giving birth at such an old age can cause health risks. Both Writers Cannot Do Math and Artistic License – Biology can also be a cause of this.

Wikipedia has a list of mothers who gave birth over the age of 50. Guinness World Records, however, refuses to accept a number of well-known historical cases due to the suspicion that they might have been cases of Family Relationship Switcheroo to cover up a younger family member's out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

Related to the Law of Inverse Fertility, Surprise Pregnancy, and But I Can't Be Pregnant!. Contrast Absurdly Youthful Mother and Teen Pregnancy.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: Big Mom is in her late sixties, but has given birth to numerous children in spite of this, with her youngest child Anana being eight years old.
  • Justified in Ōoku: The Inner Chambers. Due to the Gendercide plague killing off the vast majority of men in Japan, the shogunate has been transferred to the female line. Even though the country is globally at peace, the need to have heirs and many of said heirs dying before adulthood results in some shoguns getting pregnant at advanced ages.
  • In Vagabond, "Granny" Hon'iden always seemed old to be the mother of Matahachi, as even when the story begins she's a Miniature Senior Citizen and he's in his late teens/early twenties. Justified by The Reveal that she isn't actually his biological mother, and instead adopted him as a baby in a desperate attempt to keep her family name from dying out.
  • In chapter 60 of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! Shinichi comes home for the first time in two years after leaving for university and the first thing he sees is his mother Haruko (age 49) holding a baby girl. He at first asks if she's babysitting, only for her to inform him that this is his baby sister Nodoka (age eight months). She is also surprised that he had no idea he has a sister. Turns out it's because her husband, Shinichi and Nodoka's father Shirou (age 46) forgot to tell Shinichi.
  • In Spirited Away, Yubaba looks like an old woman, but has a baby son named Boh. Then again, they're both spirits, Boh can speak in full sentences and is twice his mother's size, so their actual ages are open to question.

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in an instance in Preacher. Jesse's maternal grandmother, Marie L'Angelle, was sixty when she had her only daughter. Lampshaded by Jesse when he tells Tulip that he doesn't know how that's even possible. Marie survives well into Jesse's adulthood, possibly being more than a hundred by the time she appears in the comic, and still relatively healthy, despite being bound to a wheelchair. Marie serves as an Arc Villain, and one of Jesse's more personal enemies, with her heartless Control Freak tendencies being responsible for Jesse's troubled background; such as ordering Jesse's parents killed (yes, including her only daughter) on separate occasions for defying her, and keeping Jesse locked in a coffin at the bottom of a pond, no food, no water, only a hose for air, for weeks at a time, for offenses as heinous as swearing.
  • Subverted in Superman's story "Cries in the Night". Supes flies Jimmy Olsen home after an adventure and meets his mom. Mrs. Olsen's hair is white. Superman's face registers clear shock at seeing that his young friend's mom looks like a grandma, but he covers for himself by saying he wasn't told she was so youthful and lovely. That said, Jimmy's mother mentions that she was only eighteen when Jimmy was born, and she shows no other signs of age, making it unclear if she's a Prematurely Grey-Haired 38 year old, or lying due to Age Insecurity.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Hero: The Guardian Smurf story "A True Miracle", Smurfette, who at the point of being married to Hero is old enough to be a Nanny Smurf, decides it's time to have a child. Mother Nature grants her a fertility blessing, warning her that she may be too old to have a child, yet surprise!, Smurfette becomes pregnant with Hero's second child Miracle.
  • In the Laverne & Shirley fanfiction Bookends, Laverne gives birth when she's 42, nearly 43. This really isn't that old but it's treated as a late pregnancy.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Mrs. Potts appears to be fairly elderly, yet her son Chip is an elementary-aged kid (and her eleven kids seem similarly aged).
  • In A Bug's Life, by human standards, the Ant Queen is an absurdly elderly mother to her little daughter Princess Dot. Justified since they're not human: queen ants lay eggs throughout their lifespan.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bridget Jones Baby features the eponymous character becoming pregnant. Multiple characters joke about how old she is to be a mother, as she's somewhere in her forties. Renee Zellweger was 47 at the time, but is possibly playing Bridget a few years younger.
  • In Crimson Peak, Beatrice Sharpe died when her only children were 14 and 12 years old. But in her portrait, she looks over 60 at least- possibly even in her 70s. She had a highly abusive husband, so it's possible that the stress aged her, but it's hard to imagine a woman 14 years away from looking THAT elderly could conceive at all. (The reasonably youthful appearances of said children as adults in their mid-30s, despite even more traumatic lives, makes their mother's rapid aging even less believable).
  • The Devil Wears Prada: Mid-to-late 50's Miranda Prestley (the actress, Meryl Streep, was 57 at the time the movie came out) has twins that appear to be elementary school age (though the actresses were actually 14 at the time). Not impossible, but still noticeable.
  • In Father of the Bride: Part II, George is worried enough that his daughter is having a baby, but after mishaps like selling the house, now he's getting more stressed that his wife Nina, who thought that she was entering menopause, is also pregnant.
  • In Here Comes the Boom the plot is set in motion because music teacher Marty's wife gets pregnant despite being in her mid-40s, causing Scott to take up MMA to raise money and save his school's music program and guarantee his friend's job and financial future. It's even lampshaded when Marty gets a text from his wife and asks Scott if that's possible.
  • Now, Voyager: Charlotte's mother was already in her forties when Charlotte was born, long after her original three children had grown up. Her current age is vague, as her actress Gladys Cooper was 56, but Charlotte is already well over 20; meaning she could be as old as seventy. Due to this, she expects Charlotte to be her old age companion.
  • Saving Face: Wil's mother finds herself pregnant again despite being forty-eight years old.

    Literature 
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Dorna Swyft's youngest daughter Janei is born in 296 or 297. It's stated in The World of Ice & Fire that Kevan Lannister met his wife in 261 or earlier and by 266, they were already married. Even supposing that he developed feelings for her when she was a prepubescent child (which goes against everything that we know about Kevan Lannister) and she was twelve at her wedding, it makes her forty-two or forty-three at Janei's birth, and if one goes for the more realistic scenario and assumes she is around Kevan's age (he was born in 244), she is by that time in her late forties or early fifties.
    • Alyssa Velaryon gave birth to her seventh child, Boremund Baratheon, at age 45, and her eighth and last child, Jocelyn Baratheon, at age 47, making her a very old mother by Westerosi standards. This possibly contributed to her Death by Childbirth.
      • While not as extreme, her daughter Alyssane and descendant Rhaella both had their last children in their early 40s.
  • The Belgariad: Sorcerers stop aging at an age that "feels" right to them, so Polgara remains youthful for 3000 years and is able to have twins at the end of the Malloreon sequel series.
  • Discworld:
    • Downplayed with Sybil Ramkin-Vimes, who is in her very late forties at least before she has her first child. However, she has serious complications during the childbirth, though both she and the baby fully recover.
    • The witch Nanny Ogg continued to have children well into her fifties; it is noted that this is not unusual for women in her rural homeland, for reasons that aren't explained.
  • Harry Potter: The titular character’s paternal grandparents were older, even by wizarding standards when his grandmother, Euphemia, gave birth to his dad, James. Considering that James’ dad, Fleamont, was an adult in the 1920s (his name appears in both Fantastic Beasts films) and James was born in 1960, she was probably at least sixty when he was born (assuming Fleamont and Euphemia were roughly the same age). Mind you, these are all found outside the books, which do not state how old they were when they had James, though it's said Euphemia was older than usual (they had trouble conceiving, and he was a surprise). J. K. Rowling provided the info when a fan asked her why James' parents did not take Harry in after their son died.
  • Justified in Honor Harrington due to life-extension therapy, "Prolong", being commonplace in the setting: it extends both life expectancy and fertility. Honor herself is 68 when she has her first child with Hamish Alexander.
  • Played With in Howl's Moving Castle: Sophie, who was cursed into an old woman, is pretending to be Howl's mother. When asked for her age, she impulsively says "ninety." Given that Howl is 27note , you'd think someone would question it. Then again, Sophie says this to Mrs. Pentstemmon, a skilled witch, and later reasons that she probably figured out the truth just by looking at her.
  • In The Left Hand of Darkness, Genly hears at one point that the king of Karhide is pregnant. He finds it funny. For the androgynous Gethenians it is also funny, but not because he is pregnant; rather, because he is well above forty. For them, mid-twenties is the age when they usually stop trying to conceive, and forty tends to be the menopause.
  • Prelude to Dune notes that Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen was born more than forty years after his elder brother, Glossu Rabban. While there is quite a bit of Older Than They Look going on in the Duniverse courtesy of melange, none of the chapters showing Abulurd and his wife indicated that they use melange.
  • Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Beverly Crusher is 57 when she delivers her and Jean-Luc Picard's first child in Paths of Disharmony. Justified due to the Enterprise crew's youth having been extended by exposure to technobabble in Star Trek: Insurrection.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Cordelia plans to have a baby while in her 70's by using a Uterine Replicator. As a Betan her life expectancy is around 150.
  • Patternist: Anyanwu is 300 when the series begins and continues to have children for centuries afterwards. Justified since she's a powerful Biomancer with perfect control over her body, so it's easy for her to make herself fertile and healthy, even when she chooses to look elderly on the outside.
  • In the Danielle Steel novel Sunset in St. Tropez, the wife of one of the three vacationing couples is stunned to learn that she's pregnant at 47, after years of not conceiving even when she was younger.
  • In Uglies, due to the future setting and medical advances, people living in the cities can live up till their 200s and generally don't start having kids until their 40s or 50s, on top of that, only having a child every twelve years as a means of population control.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Chicago Med has a couple in their fifties come into the hospital with the wife suffering from a mystery ailment. At one point, she gets up to go to the bathroom and releases a lot of fluid as soon as she gets out of bed. Dr. Choi realizes that the "urine" is actually amniotic fluid and immediately gets her to the maternity ward.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Due to writers not being great at basic math, Keiko's mother apparently gave birth to her while in her sixties as her mother is said to be celebrating her 100th birthday during Dax" and Keiko is in her late thirties or early forties. Given far more advanced medical technology by the 2300s, it's possible fertility can be extended (or they froze her eggs from earlier etc.).
    • Also, in The Muse, Lwaxana Troi returns to the station, carrying a child and looking to marry Odo. At the time, actress Majel Barrett, who played Lwaxana, was 64. Justified in that Lwaxana is an alien, specifically a Betazoid, which reach the height of their sex drive in middle age.
  • In Downton Abbey, both Robert and Cora are stunned when Cora falls pregnant in her late 40s (they already have three adult children). Sadly, she later suffers a miscarriage.
  • In The X-Files season eleven finale episode "My Struggle IV", planned to be the series' Grand Finale, Scully is pregnant from Mulder at age fifty.
  • All My Children's Opal is stunned to learn that she's pregnant in her early 50s, after weeks of what she assumed were menopause symptoms. Her husband Palmer is a male example — after getting over his suspicions that she cheated on him (he thought he was sterile), he's still not too keen on becoming a father at his age (70-something).
  • Another World's Rachel conceives twins in her early 50s. When viewers scoffed at this, the writers pointed out that this echoed her mother Ada, who had her sister Nancy at the same age.note 
  • General Hospital's Tracy Quartermaine gave birth to her son Dillon at 45, prompting a guest at her son's christening to ask if she was the grandmother.
  • The Boys (2019): Homelander states that he's surprised that Stillwell could have a child at her age (late fifties, going by the actress's age, making it a fair question).
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand hangs a lampshade on this with Lucretia's attempts to conceive a child. It's commented on how unusual it is for a woman her age to not already have children (while her age is never stated, her actress Lucy Lawless was 42 when the series began). She is however able to get pregnant towards the end of the first season, and the only reason she doesn't stay that way is because the father - a gladiator she was keeping as a sex slave for six years - stabs her as revenge for torturing his actual lover.
  • In the Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm, Eileen gives birth to Huwi-John when she is over 50 and already has three adult children.
  • In Dharma & Greg, Abby's age is unclear (she does have a daughter who's in her own 20s), but she at one point believes she's entering menopause, implying at least late 40s. She turns out to be pregnant.
  • In Little House on the Prairie, Season 1's episode "If I Wake Before I Die" involves an old woman pretending she died in the hopes that her children finaly visit her during her 80th birthday, including her youngest Andy, who's said to have disappeared 15 years earlier after enlisting on Civil War when he was 19. Doing the math, he's now 34 when his mother turns 80, meaning she had him at 45/46.
    • Mrs. Foster, a recurring Bit Character, is shown to have twin daughters in diapers in a Season 7 episode. Her actress, Ruth Foster, was pushing sixty when this episode aired.
  • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the reformed Zangyack leader Jerashid falls in love with a middle-aged human woman (her actress was 55 years of age) and they quickly elope. It is later shown in a spin-off that they have had a baby, although how this is possible may be explained by Jerashid's alien biology.

    Music 

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible (note that both cases were Mystical Pregnancies):
    • Sarah had a child at the age of 90, explicitly after she had reached menopause. When a visitor—strongly implied to be an angel in disguise—tells Abraham that Sarah will have a child within a year, she thinks this is so absurd that she laughs. Sure enough, she soon has a son named Isaac, whose name means "she laughs."
    • In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel tells the priest Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth is going to have a child. Even though the couple had prayed for a child for many years, Zechariah finds this unbelievable, since they are both old, to which Gabriel renders him mute until the child, whom they named John, is born.

    Theatre 
  • Il trovatore: Azucena is Manrico's adoptive mother. According to the Count Di Luna, his younger brother disappeared fifteen years ago. This logically means that Manrico should be fifteen or sixteen. But the problem is that by this time, Azucena is supposed to be an old woman, and she had a baby boy at the time of the brother's disappearance. Taking this into account, it's highly unlikely that any woman would go from childbearing age to old age in only fifteen years.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings II: The baseline fertility of female characters drops gradually from 16 to 45, after which it becomes 0. It is possible for a woman to be impregnated in the last month of being 44, making motherhood at 45 possible, and a few events have a chance of pregnancy occurring regardless of the woman's age (originally most events with a chance of pregnancy tended to ignore the 45 age cap, but most of these were subsequently patched to do so).
  • In Harvest Town, the doctor, Lee Wah, and his wife, Pong Ching, are from the same generation as the player character's grandgather; but their sons, Yau and Yeung, are about the same age as the protagonist. At one point, Pong Ching is even described as a mother figure to Mary Morris—who is a middle-aged woman with an adult daughter.
  • In No Umbrellas Allowed, Wonsu turns 19 in the middle of the game, yet his mother Jane looks old enough to be his grandma.
  • Poptropica: On Back Lot Island, there’s a woman with grey hair and glasses, which is what Poptropica uses to show that a person is elderly. That woman has a daughter, and while it can be hard to estimate ages in Poptropica, she talks and is treated as a young child.
  • In Potion Permit, Rue and Runeheart look like they're the Chemist's age (roughly early 20s), yet their respective mothers Mariele and Opalheart have graying hair.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: Sara Greenhilt died of old age shortly before the comic's start, but her daughter Julia is 17 years old.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The pregnancies of a couple of female characters from the Distant Prologue come across as having happened quite late in their lives:
    • Ingrid is on the lower end of the trope, as she looks to be in her very late teens or early twenties in Year 0, while her son Trond is 67 in Year 90. This puts her pregnancy in her early forties at the earliest.
    • Mia is a straighter case, as she was seven years old in Year 0 according to invokedWord of God, but her son Torbjörn is only 38 in Year 90, making her 59 upon having him.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: According to The Search, Zuko and Azula are related to Avatar Roku through his daughter, a woman named Rina. If you do the math, Rina fits this trope to a T. Roku's death happened 112 years before the series started. Even if Rina was born right before or shortly after Roku died during the volcano eruption (which seems unlikely given that Roku was 70 years old when he died, and his wife, Ta Min, was his age. Or maybe she was and Ta Min was also an absurdly elderly mother), Rina would have to give birth to Zuko's mother, Ursa, at over 70 years old, given that Ursa is in her late-30s during the events of the comic.
  • In Mission Hill, Eunice "Weirdie" Eulmeyer's parents are old enough to be her great grandparents. Her father was a scientist in World War II who worked on the hydrogen bomb, and he actually dies of old age in the episode.
  • Scrooge McDuck is 150 years old at the beginning of DuckTales (2017), while his niece Della and nephew Donald (children of his younger sister Hortense) are both 36. Matilda (who is the youngest sibling in this continuity) is also shown to be around Scrooge's age in Season 3, meaning that Hortense was over 100 years old when her children hatched.
  • Futurama: Mom is at least 142 years old, but her adult children appear to be no older than forty. A flashback to 2970 shows her nursing her infant sons while already going grey.
  • Implied in Hey Arnold!. Arnold's paternal grandparents Phil and Gertie are in their early eighties when Arnold is nine, which means they had to have been middle-aged when they had Arnold's father Miles, as Miles appears to have been in his twenties or thirties when Arnold was born. Though it's possible that Miles is Older Than He Looks and was the one to have kids late.
  • Evil Con Carne: In the episode "The Time Hole Incident", Hector, Ghastly, and Skarr meet their future selves, who are visibly old. The former two have a son (which raises another question since Hector was reduced to a brain and a stomach) who is still a baby, so he wasn't born a long time ago.
  • Subverted and darkly justified in Moral Orel. Joe Secondopinionson's father is not only elderly, but losing his mind from dementia. Joe himself is 12 years old, but has a half-sister who's an adult. The reason for the massive gap in their ages is due to the fact that Dr. Secondopinionson raped Joe's mother, Nurse Bendy, and got her pregnant. It's implied she was Joe's current age when it happened.
  • South Park: Randy Marsh is in his forties, his father Marvin "Grandpa" Marsh is 102, meaning he'd have been in his sixties when Randy was born.

    Real Life 
  • Daljinder Kaur, 72, from India, gave birth to a son, Arman, on April 19, 2016, after nearly five decades of marriage and two unsuccessful IVF tries. However, since she hasn't any birth certificate, her age is approximative.
  • Janet Jackson gave birth to a son named Eissa al Manna at the age of 50.
  • Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara is the oldest verified mother, having given birth to twins at 66 in 2009, funding her IVF by selling her house after the death of her mother, with whom she lived. Even though she insisted she would be fine, since her mother had died at 101, she died three years later, in 2012, from cancer in the ovaries.
  • British art curator Julia Peyton-Jones made headlines when she became a mother at 65 in 2017.
  • Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) became the first sitting senator to give birth in April 2018 at the age of 50.
  • Brigitte Nielsen gave birth to her fifth child at age 54.
  • This webpage, which lists numerous examples of mid-life/late-life pregnancies. Even more shocking are how many of them allegedly occurred naturally (Janet Jackson, etc.) without the use of fertility treatments.
  • Rachael Harris gave birth to her first child at 48 and her second at 50.
  • The Common Law of property gives us a famous hypothetical example: the fertile octogenerian. For reasons that are far too complicated to address here (viz., the rule against perpetuities), it is of great importance that (at least historically) common-law jurisdictions contemplated that even an 80-year-old woman could still have children. This meant (and in some places still means) that you had to be very careful how you wrote up a conveyance to someone's children "upon reaching [x] age", even if that someone was, well, an 80-year-old woman.
  • Subverted in one case, in which some medical literature about older mothers claims a truly ridiculous case of a centenarian who, at the time of her death, supposedly had a nine-year-old daughter. However, this is due to a typo; the primary source actually said that the daughter was ninety, not nine.
  • Hilary Swank had twins in 2022 at the age of 48.
  • Adriana Iliescu from Romania, was the initial oldest verified mother in the world, before Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara. In 2005, she gave birth to a daughter, at the age of 66. She was initially pregnant with triplets, but 2 of them died, and the surviving one was brought into the world at only 33 weeks through a caesarian section. Her daughter is not biological her child, since she gestated in Iliescu's womb but was conceived by an ovum and sperm donated anonymously.
  • Naomi Campbell gave birth for the first time at fifty to her daughter and had her son three years later.
  • Holly Hunter gave birth to twins at the age of forty-seven.
  • Victoria Coren Mitchell, presenter of Only Connect, was 51 when she gave birth to her second daughter.

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