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Meet the 57-year-old woman who gave birth: 'The whole thing was a bit surreal'

Barbara Higgins gave birth to a son at 57, nearly five years after she and her husband endured the death of their 13-year-old daughter.
/ Source: TODAY

Barbara Higgins can only laugh when she remembers people's reactions when she told them she was pregnant at 57 years old.

"Expressionless. Staring at me," the New Hampshire mom told Hoda Kotb and Craig Melvin on TODAY Friday. "And we didn't tell anybody anything. And I didn't tell anybody when I was pregnant until I was 20 weeks in, pretty much.

"So I would make this sort of announcement, 'Hey I have something to tell you, I'm 20 weeks pregnant with a baby boy,' and just...silence."

Higgins became one of the oldest women in the country to give birth when she delivered her baby son, Jack, on March 20 at Concord Hospital.

"The whole thing was a bit surreal, quite honestly," Higgins said.

"We beat the odds," her husband, Kenny Banzhoff, said on TODAY. "I'm so proud of her."

woman holds newborn in hospital bed
Barbara Higgins holds her newborn son Jack after giving birth at 57.Barbara Higgins / NBC Boston

Higgins cradled a sleeping baby Jack on Friday as she described what having a child as she nears 60 has been like.

"Actually in many ways I think it's easier," she said. "I don't have such big expectations. I'm not concerned about external judgments and factors. It's just us and Jack and our day-to-day life. So far, so good."

The inspiration for their second child came in the wake of heartbreak. Their daughter, Molly, died suddenly at 13 in 2016 from complications from an undetected brain tumor. Concord Hospital settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family over Molly's treatment in 2018, according to the Concord Monitor.

In the wake of Molly's death, Higgins started having dreams of another baby.

"It began shortly after the death of my daughter Molly, so my immediate reaction is I'm losing my mind, I'm sad, traumatized and all," she said. "But the dream was pretty consistent, and it was just about the process of having a baby, that I'm supposed to do this, and sometimes the voice in my dream would call me 'Mommy,' other times the voice in my dream would call me Barbara.

"It wasn't a super-specific dream, but I would wake up with this compelling feeling that I need to call the doctor today, I need to work on this, I need to begin this process. And we didn't rush into it at all."

Higgins has maintained an active lifestyle into her late 50s and even was weightlifting on the day she went into labor.
Higgins has maintained an active lifestyle into her late 50s and even was weightlifting on the day she went into labor. TODAY

The couple was able to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization after visiting Cardone Reproductive Medicine and Infertility in Boston.

"Actually for me, the process was one relatively easy step after another," she said. "I know it's not that way for all women, but for me the path just sort of presented itself."

"I kind of went, 'Oh my gosh,' but I got on board," Banzhoff said. "It's been quite a journey. It's been wonderful."

Higgins has been dedicated to fitness all her life and was even weightlifting on the day she went into labor, but she was still monitored closely by Dr. Ashish Chaudhari from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center throughout her pregnancy.

"We were doing a lot of extra blood work, a lot of extra office visits, ultrasounds things that we would do for anyone who's older, to make sure things are going smoothly," Chaudhari said on TODAY.

The couple admittedly had some people questioning their decision.

"Are you serious? Are you telling the truth?" Banzhoff said about the reactions he received.

But as they beamed with their baby boy in his mother's arms on Friday, everything made sense.

"Who knows how I'll be in 10 years, but who knows how you'll be in 10 years?" Higgins said. "And why should Jack not get to be alive just because I'm old?"