Meet Later Mom: Rachel Lehmann-Haupt

rachelhauptAGE: 46
RESIDENCE: Northern California
CHILD: A Son, Age 4

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt is one of America’s premier experts on the future of family life, career timing, and the influence of science and technology on fertility and pregnancy, and is widely credited with coining the phrase ‘DIY Mom.’ An in-demand speaker and journalist, her writing appears regularly in the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, O, Glamour, Wired, Self, and more. She graduated with distinction in English literature from Kenyon College, and has a Masters in Journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley (where she apprenticed under Clay Felker, the founder of New York magazine). Visit:

What was your road to parenthood like? I decided to get pregnant as a single mom by choice at 40. I was lucky, it didn’t take me very many tries to get pregnant. I tell the story of journey in my memoir, In Her Own Sweet Time: Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family.

What led to your decision to free your eggs? I froze them when I was 37 after a break-up with Mr. Wrong. It helped me feel calmer about my future.

How does being a mom influence your work? I’m more committed and passionate about my work than ever. I’ve also become more efficient with my time. Becoming a mom has opened up mine with new networks of friends and opportunities.

rachelhauptbookcoverWhat was your motivation to write your book? Most of us are getting married and having children after we get our degrees and are on more solid ground professionally. Instead of settling down, we’re spending a big chunk of our 20s and 30s lives living on our own, traveling, hooking up, or trying on different kind of relationships to see which one best fits us. Many of us are not getting married at all. The challenge that comes with this new era of independence is that many are also wrestling with our ambiguities and desires around having children while backed up against the inevitable tick-tock of our biological clocks. At the same that we’re postponing marriage, the age of first-time motherhood and fatherhood is naturally rising, especially in cities. I wanted to offer women a new road map to help them make better choices.

What advice would you offer to multi-tasking overwhelmed moms? Keep lists. Make sure to take time for yoursel,f and practice yoga or some kind of stress management.  (I love bubble baths!)

Do you think it’s tough for women to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits?  Yes, it’s hard, but not impossible. Technology and feminism have made it possible for women to make choices they couldn’t have made even a generation ago. Many women are intentionally getting pregnant before they get engaged or walk down the aisle. Some women are having children as DIY Moms before finding husbands, or freezing their eggs to donate to themselves further down the road. Other working moms are your best support; women with whom you can talk about work and your kids and how to best balance it all.

What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over?  Having a baby after age 35 is riskier in terms of the viability of the eggs and the chances of genetic anomalies, but the good news is that genetic screening has made it safer to have children at older ages. I think I was more psychologically prepared for motherhood at 40, and I also was more established in my career, so that helped in terms of both confidence and finances.

rachelmastersonHas anything about being a mother surprised you?   If so, what?   What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging? What most surprising is how much I love the challenge.  Having him has been the best decision of my life. He’s now four and his life has opened up mine with new networks of friends and opportunities. Four years ago, I was really sad that I might lose out on what I think is one of life’s most vital experiences. Becoming his mother has made me stronger in new ways, both inside and outside.

What do you most want to teach your son?   What have you learned from him thus far? He’s taught me to become more patient about everything. The need to be a constant present rock to him guards me against existential breakdowns. In fact, this feeling is the most exhilarating part of this choice; the deep commitment to raising another human makes me feel more interconnected to and interdependent with something intangible, imitable, and larger than myself. On the outside, this journey has allowed me to go out in the world and help other women as a spokeswoman and champion of modern family choices and opportunities.

Have your parents offered any parenting advice that has really resonated with you? Always listen to your instincts.

What words of wisdom would you like to share for someone contemplating motherhood over age 35?  The only thing I can say definitively is that women who want ­children—or even are on the fence about it—should take the time to think about these issues early on. As women of a post boomer generation, we are used to being in control of our lives, professionally and financially. The fact that we do not have control over the duration of our fertility is incredibly frightening, something many of us would like to ignore for as long as possible. But I have learned that no matter how scary some information was at first, it’s ultimately liberating to understand my own body’s reproductive possibilities—as well as its impossibilities. We have more options than ever; understanding them can empower us and, perhaps most importantly, turn panic into peace.


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  1. One Response to “Meet Later Mom: Rachel Lehmann-Haupt”

  2. I applaud you. My son, will begin college this fall . I was pregnant at 41 . I knew I wanted to be a mom since age 18. I developed preeclampsia three months before delivery. It was a blessing that I had a healthy boy. Five years later, age 46, I was diagnosed w/multiple sclerosis. I separated from his dad, when he was 12, and never doubted my decision. Alcoholism was worse than my dis-ease. My faith and positive thinking supports me.

    By Deb on Jul 11, 2016