A Texas woman who was surprised with a pregnancy at age 45 has started a ministry to reach out to other women over 40 who find themselves in a similar situation.

Debbie Coolidge, founder of the support group "Surprise Moms Over 40," says women are having babies at older ages in increasing numbers. However, she points out, not all of these pregnancies are welcome ones.

Coolidge says when she herself, a staunch pro-life advocate, found out she was pregnant at 45, she questioned whether or not she wanted to continue her pregnancy. But then, she notes, "I dug a little deeper and realized, according to the [Alan] Guttmacher Institute, that a whopping 60 percent of unintended pregnancies in women over 40 end in abortion. And, you know what? That's the highest percentage of any age group."

The then mother-to-be says this revelation helped her to discover a ministry void. "I realized that there is actually nothing out there to provide Christ-centered support for the over-40 woman who experiences a surprise pregnancy," she says.

Coolidge began a search for resources and found there were few available for mothers-to-be who mistakenly thought their childrearing days were over. "There's actually a lot of books and articles for women who are over 40 and want to be pregnant," she notes, "but I couldn't relate to their joy at being pregnant in their 40s. There was simply nothing out there for women like me."

The "Surprise Moms Over 40" founder says she also discovered during her own surprise pregnancy that there was a dearth of support for such mothers as well, with very few ministries existing to offer advice and to uplift women in her specific circumstances. There were moments during that time when a word of encouragement would have really helped, she recalls, "like, when I was eight weeks pregnant, and a customer service rep asked me if I wanted to sign up for the senior citizens' discount."

Her search for help for herself convinced Coolidge of the need for "Surprise Moms Over 40." So, "in sheer obedience to the Lord," she says, she created the web-based support group "to serve the needs of these women."

Coolidge adds that her ministry is there to reach out to "surprise moms" and to encourage them to keep their babies. She says she wants to remind any woman going through an experience similar to her own that all life is fearfully and wonderfully made, despite the age of the mother, and that God wasn't surprised by her pregnancy but wanted her baby to be conceived.

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Mary Rettig, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.

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