04/19/2002 AT 12:00 PM EDT
Geena Davis had a big decision to make, PEOPLE reports in its latest cover story, on new mothers over the age of 40. At the age of 46, the statuesque movie star was very pregnant and driving with her husband, physician Reza Jarrahy, 31, near her home in San Diego, when she went into labor. She could reach the nearest hospital in 10 minutes or turn the car onto the 5 freeway and drive two hours to the L.A. hospital where she had undergone months of prenatal care. "They decided to take their chances and head to L.A.," says her dad, retired engineer William Davis, 88. "There was nothing much happening when they started the ride, but by the end plenty was happening." By 2 p.m. April 10, the elder Davis got the happy news that his daughter had given birth to a 6-lb., 11-oz. girl. Naming his only grandchild might have been tough, but bringing little Alizeh Keshvar Davis Jarrahy into the world evidently was not. "She never had one problem during her pregnancy, not one bit of morning sickness," says Davis. "For a first-time birth, and at her age, it's amazing. She's amazing." More than he knows, reports PEOPLE. In the past decade the number of U.S. mothers giving birth after 40 has nearly doubled, to more than 94,000 in 2000. The reasons are varied: late relationships, second marriages, careers so involving, says L.A. gynecologist and author Dr. Judith Reichman, that "women are suddenly realizing, at 40, 'Oh my God, I forgot to have a baby!'"