Last night was another night of riveting television. My friends know I can’t get enough of the weird and wonderful shows on Discovery Health, National Geographic and TLC. I could watch hours upon hours of shows about the morbidly obese, the morbidly addicted, little people, big people and people who can’t throw anything away. I love that shit.
Last night’s show, Pregnant at 70, profiled several women: a Brit who had a child at 56, an American who had a child at 58 followed by twins at 60 and an Indian who birthed a child at 70, among others. I found the show both reassuring and troubling at the same time.
As a 37-year old newlywed, I’d be lying if I said I never worried about whether I’ll be able to have children or wasn’t very aware of my ticking biological clock. You can’t hide from the stats that say a woman’s fertility drops substantially after 30. And, quotes like this can scare the bejeezers out of you, “Fertility after 30 keeps being a matter of time and women should be realistic while understanding their priorities. If they want to have a baby they must not wait until they cross into the 30s otherwise they must try to maintain a healthy lifestyle toward the time in which they want to conceive.”
… Must not wait until they cross into their 30s. Jeez, now you tell me? I would have married my Prince Charming and gotten busy years ago.
Part of me was glad to hear these women’s stories of successfuly conceiving in their golden years. I mean, if a 70-year old who barters livestock for for food, bathes in a river and lives in a shed can get pregnant, I shouldn’t despair, right? (Did I mention she’s also breast feeding?) But at the same time, part of me couldn’t help but think these women selfish. It’s no secret, none of them conceived naturally. All got pregnant with the help of fertility treatments. Their reasons varied. For the Indian woman who tried to conceive for more than 50 years, not having a child made her the object of ridicule and scorn in her village. The Brit wanted to give her much younger husband a chance to be a father. One of the others already had 9 other children and was blind when she decided to go for another. I didn’t catch what her motivation was.
Now, I’m not discounting their reasons, but really, wasn’t trying to get pregnant well after the half century mark asking a bit much of the gods? Testimonials from their family, older children, friends and other villagers showed I wasn’t the only one who thought that.
All the women talked about the advantages of being an older mom and I can certainly relate to those. I know if I’m blessed enough to become a mom, I’ll do a much better job now than I would have in my 20s and even my early 30s when my priorities were much different. I get that older women are often more established and many are better able to provide a secure financial future for their children. I see how raising a child with the benefit of aged wisdom can be great. But even with all the advantages, you have to acknowledge some of the disadvantages. If these much older moms don’t age well health-wise, for example, is it fair to switch up the caretaker roles when their child is just a teen? If you have a child in your late 50s, chances are you’re denying your children’s children of having grandparents. Is that fair? How about the kids whose friends will assume their parents are their grandparents? How about those who’ll be mortified when their mom shows up at a soccer game in a house coat while their friends’ moms are in Juicy suits? OK, I’m not really that concerned about that.
What do you think? Is it OK for women to take advantage of the advances in fertility treatments to have children in their 50s, 60s and even their 70s? Just because it’s possible, should you do it?