December 15, 2005 | 12:28 p.m. ET

A new mom at 57 years old

In November 2004, three days shy of her 57th birthday, Aleta St. James gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl — at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Being the oldest American mom to have children, Aleta says, "Even though I'm of a certain age, and there are some people who might think that this is selfish, or that I'm crazy... well, I'm a little bit crazy. I have never lived in a box.  If you have a dream and you want to accomplish it, don't listen to other people's negativity and limitations... you can really manifest the most incredible things."

Aleta St. James holds her twin babies in New York
Jeff Christensen  /  Reuters file
Aleta St. James  became pregnant by in-vitro fertilization.

Some people have questioned Aleta's decision. For example, Dr. Arthur Caplan, a prominent bioethicist wrote "If you talk to children of older parents, most will tell you that they worry quite a bit about whether their parents would live to see them graduate from high school. Is it really the case... that it’s never too late and that you are never too old to parent?" Here's more of his commentary on

"The doctors to whom she paid more than $25,000 for the treatments that resulted in her pregnancy apparently did not think she was too old. And her family, as well as a gaggle of reporters, deemed her upbeat answer (in addition to her healing work, St. James is a motivational speaker) a more-than-sufficient response. Her father, who is well into his 80s, said that he now has two big reasons to want to keep on living.

It is hard to even raise this question without seeming like a moral busybody. What right does anyone have to challenge the reproductive decisions of another person? But... if decisions as important as when to have children are not open to ethical comment and discussion, then what is worthy of ethical analysis?"

On Sunday, Dateline airs Katie Couric's interview with Aleta to discuss her incredible focus and determination to have children in her 50s.

Below, watch web-exclusive video clips of Curtis Sliwa, Aleta St. James' brother. Sliwa is a New York radio personality who founded the crime-fighting group the Guardian Angels.

Video: Motherhood at 57?

Also below is a video clip from the twins' first birthdays. Gian and Francesca Sliwa celebrated at My Gym, a children's play center.

Video: First birthdays

Katie Couric's interview with Aleta St. James airs Sunday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. on 'Dateline.'

December 16, 2005 | Your e-mails on this topic so far

I had my only child at 23, which is as I believe a perfect age. Would I still have done it if I was 43? No way. 33, maybe. 57? My thoughts wouldn't be raising a child, but planning retirement and time for myself. Maybe if I had the urge to be a mom that bad and have something to nurture, I'd get a dog. I had my only child at 23, which is as I believe a perfect age. --Leah Senarighi, Duluth, Minn.

I strongly agree that if a couple decided to attempt to raise a child at a point in the life cycle whether the age is 21 or 57 given the desire and technological advances of modern medicine may GOD bless them. People should be applauded for this great blessing. No one should be scutinized of there decision to conceive.Truly, later we will not to be able to drive at 65. Why? I say go for it!!!! --Jerome Shoemaker Sr., Savannah, Ga.

Since fatherhood is not limited by age, motherhood should depend on a woman's decision. Young women die, get sick, etc. No-one limits their rights to motherhood. --Christine, Miami, Fla.

As a woman gets older and wise, she is better prepared to raise a healthy, educated and confident child. There are no guarantees in life; having a young mother does not mean a person will have her for a long time. If a woman is healthy both physically and emotionally as well as financially, she is much better prepared for motherhood than a younger woman. It is no one's business to question people's decision about when to have children, or whether a person should or should not. --Ana, Louisville, KY

Thankfully I have 5 wonderful grandchildren and I feel young at 50. But its not easy taking care of them for a few hours at my age as it was to raise my own 30 years ago. You just don't have the same amount of energy. Babies are for the young to raise...57 is a great age to be a grandparent and enjoy them while mom and dad raise them. --Kathy Somerville, Painesville Twp. Ohio

I am 28, my mom just turned 50 and dad turns 49 in December, I know that someday I may be without my mom or dad but I have to say at least they were not so selfish as to only give me 20 or so years of their lives. We may only have to accept legal responsibility for our children for 18 years but I think there is so many more years of a parents knowledge, love, help, and support that a parent should feel an obligation to be there for — or better stated, a desire to be there for. --Laurie, East Wenatchee, Wa.

I say to each his/her own, she seems happy. She may not live to see the twins graduate from High School, but I'm sure she has prepared for their future in the event that she is not around. --Erica M, Los Angeles, Calif.

Aleta is proof positive that she can have a baby at 56/57 years old, but she had to have a lot of medical criteria going her way to be able to get pregnant and carry these 2 babies thru full term. There are reports from other parts of the world of a mother that had her last healthy baby at 62 years old a few years ago; I think she lived in South America. Women who want to have babies late in their reproductive cycles should do so with their doctor's help and advice, and must be able to be in very good health with no serious health issues to hinder their progression of the growth of the babies that they will be carrying for 9 months. I'm not able to have any more kids because of problems I had in my last pregnancy in 1992, so I applaud all of these moms in their 40s and 50s that have decided to take that bold step of having a baby! --Chari Mercier, 53 years old, St. Pete, Fla.

Our educated, career-oriented women want it ALL...the career and high-income, savings, and then a baby once they feel secure enough that funds for house-hold help will be available so they can return to their career in a few years to pay for college. I have a close example. I think it's great, and do question the expensive ob care our pregnant women over 35 get versus a few minutes off of field work for women of similar ages around the world. Good luck to all of our older moms. --GG, Pa.

December 9, 2005 | 4:23 p.m. ET

Grappling with telling her story of rape (Julie Cohen, Dateline producer)

Most women who come forward with rape allegations don’t want to be identified. Who can forget William Kennedy Smith’s accuser testifying on television with that big blue blob covering her face? For our report on acquaintance rape allegations on college campuses, Hoda Kotb and I wanted to show real women, not a bunch of blue blobs.

NBC News, like that other major news organizations, generally does not identify sexual assault victims—  but will when they choose to identify themselves. Some of the women you’ll see on our program Sunday had already spoken out on their campuses and were ready to show their faces on national TV.

But that wasn’t true for Stacy, the former Ohio State student whose case is central to our report. During the months between the time I first called her and the time we put the report together, she considered not doing an interview at all, and talking with her face obscured, before deciding to talk to Hoda AND show her face.

Below, is her video diary, on why she decided to tell her story:

Video: Sharing a rape accusation on national TV

A year and a half after Stacy filed her report with the school, her attacker was expelled.

He denied the accusation, as well as other allegations made against him by the other women from the same school. Last year, he pleaded guilty in Stacy’s case to sexual imposition, a misdemeanor described in the state code as having sex when “the offender knows that the sexual contact is offensive to the other person” or “when the other person is so impaired she can’t appraise the situation.” The judge sentenced him to two years probation, and ordered him to undergo an evaluation for sexual aggression.

Stacy has sued Ohio State, arguing the school should have moved more quickly. University officials declined our repeated requests for an on camera interview, but in court papers, say they did nothing wrong. Campus officials also pointed out that in the end they did take decisive action against Stacy’s attacker.

To hear more from Stacy on her story, and other young women who did come forward with campus acquaintance rape allegations, tune in to Dateline Sunday, 7 p.m. Each of the stories the women tell is troubling… also troubling is what happened when they spoke up.

Click here to read viewer e-mails so far.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments