Wednesday, June 13, 2007

That's not my grandma

Mommy too old to have a baby?

I read with great interest an article in this month’s Chatelaine magazine, about women having babies when they’re in their 50’s and 60’s. Although I’m all for women making choices and having control over their bodies, I tend to agree with the author. I think that these older women having babies is just too much.

Don’t get me wrong. Having had personal success with the advances of fertility technology, I don’t want to knock that avenue. It can make miracles happen. And now there is technology becoming available to freeze your own eggs for potential use later when a woman decides to have a family. I’m all for that, especially if they are young women with illnesses who may have to undergo medical treatments that may destroy their eggs. They may not be in a relationship or in a position to have children now, but this way they do have the potential when they are fit and able. But let’s get real here -- a 67 year old woman having a set of twins – that’s more than a stretch. With the average life expectancy of a woman these days, the children will be lucky if their mother sees them reach their 16th birthday. And that doesn’t seem right to me.

A doctor was quoted telling a 56 year old woman that she “looked great, had the body of a 30-year-old, so why not?”. What does “looking great” have to do with it? Childbirth is no cakewalk, infertility treatments are no picnic. There is a lot of expense in terms of time and money (we’re talking lots of it). Frankly, it scares me that all these stories of miracle babies give false hope to many women, who see these older women, many of them celebrities, being able to have their babies when convenient for them. They make it look like you can just hold back time, and presto, with a few dollars, a couple of injections, instant family. It’s just not so easy – the statistics are totally stacked against women starting in their late 30s, early 40s. And obviously these older women are post-menopausal, so have used eggs donated by other women. That’s another issue that needs to be addressed, particularly with the children as they get older and have questions as they realize that their mothers are perhaps even older than the grandmothers of their peers. Inevitably they will be raised by single mothers, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but things are usually easier with two parents.

And you’d have to think that the children born in these circumstances must be quite fragile themselves. With the recent infections being spread in major well-known neonatal wards in the city these past few months, some experts think the hospitals are just not keeping up with the technology to care for babies (preemies, multiples) who normally wouldn’t survive or are being brought into the world through fertility treatments.

Having had my kids in my mid and late-30’s, I already feel exhausted most days, and I’m a reasonably fit woman, who looks fairly youthful for my age. Somedays I already feel too old to be their mom. Can you imagine if I had given birth to my little one as a 67 year old spring chicken? That would make me 70 years old this year. Chauffeuring, organizing and hosting playdates, volunteering at the school, potty training, grocery shopping --- ugggghhhh! I don’t think so!

I hope that at 70, I’ll be back in the city with my hubby in a lovely loft condo, enjoying yet again the culture, restaurants and entertainment that we’ve currently parked on the sidelines of our life, once our kids are grown and onto their own lives. And hopefully they’ll be bringing our grandkids down to party with us!


Janssen said...

Great post - I agree that at that age, you are probably past your childbearing (and REARING) years, even if medically they can make it happen for you.

Plus, I'm completely on your side concerning the hopes for older age - a grown family, a nice small house/condo, a great city, and time and money to travel and do great things. Potty training definitely doesn't fit into that picture for me.

Karen MEG said...

Hi Janssen -thanks for your comment and for stopping by. I'm in the midst of potty training now my diva, and can't imagine doing it at 70 - although my mother, who just turned 70, is on my back for getting it done - if she lived with me she'd probably do it herself, but we both prefer that she stick to her cruises and casinos!


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