Change of Life Babies: Do They Really?
by Marjorie Dorfman
Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist. Michael Levine
Why are more and more women today opting to become mothers in their forties and even as late as fifty? What are the risks and what are the benefits? Read on for some questions, some conceived in ignorance and others from semi-intelligent observation.
In this day and age were living in, women can be and often are "babes" well into their old age. This phenomenon is the result of positive attitudes, good health, solid self-esteem and not a little bit of good cosmetics. One rarely hears the term "change of life" anymore when referring to women who have babies over the age of forty. With new freedoms emerge many changes, both in thinking and in deed. More women want careers before motherhood; they want it all and on their own terms. And why not? Dont we all as human beings have a right to what we want? The answer can only be yes, but with affirmation comes responsibility as well. Unfortunately, the choices we make in our lives never come certified with any guarantees or even a stupid manual to consult once in a while.
Psychologically speaking (through the eyes of a non-psychologist), there is always going to be someone who will tell the "older mother" that she is crazy to consider having a baby later in life. Ultimately, however, it is only that mother-to-be who has to make that choice and answer for it. The desire to be a mother is no different at forty-five than at twenty-five. And why shouldnt it be fulfilled, as long as the mother can provide for the child and give it what it needs to grow up to be a responsible adult? And so to those who ask why, you should say because. To those who ask how, you should reply "the usual way." And like the true color of ones hair and size of ones bank account, whose business and life is it anyway?
Actress, Adrienne Barbeau, gave birth to twin boys at the age of 50; Jane Seymour in her forties, also to twin boys. Both Anthony Quinn and Tony Randall, just to name a few, became dads very late in their lives. It happens every day, and not just to celebrities. Unlike men, who have the ability to manufacture sperm throughout their lives, women are born with all of their eggs, which deteriorate with the passage of time. (Do brains work the same way?) Of course, a big question has to be: What about tomorrow? One advantage to being young, apart form the obvious ease of delivery, is the fact that in all likelihood, the mother will live to see the child grow up. On the other hand, older mothers are many times more stable and can devote more time to an infant and growing child.
One way to handle the rising tide of criticism is to do the mature thing and simply ignore it. You can also be more selective with whom who you discuss these issues. Your doctor should be the only one you listen to about medical difficulties and expectations in your pregnancy. Others may have had their experiences, but you must weigh them carefully against your own knowledge. In many cases, other peoples experience might not be helpful and cause more anxiety than necessary. Do your own research and speak to more than one expert in the field. A female friend your own age may harbor resentment that she has not made the same decision that you have or perhaps secretly wishes that she could or whatever. Conversely, anothers response could be adamant because of their own personal preferences, without considering your perspective. Good friends mean well and shouldnt be ignored, but they are no substitute for sound medical knowledge, personal research and judgement.
There are two sides to every issue and sometimes even three or four. There is the embarrassing possibility of being considered your childs grandmother rather than mother. Is this really such a terrible thing? Isnt the real issue the ability to care for ones child, no matter how old or young the mother might be? Let them eat cake to those who say otherwise, or eggs, or something like that.
There are important medical issues, however and they cannot be ignored. According to Mark Perloe, MD, director of reproductive endocrinology at the Atlanta Medical Center, "I find it frustrating that many women delay childbearing until the age of forty, thinking that it is a realistic possibility to start their families at that point
We hear stories about women who are successful in having babies later in life
but we dont hear about the women in their forties who arent successful and that theres a serious possibility that waiting will jeopardize their fertility."
Not meaning to burst any bubbles, this statement is based on research and has to be considered. All in all, by anyones interpretation, there is a hefty price that can be paid for postponing motherhood. According once again to Dr. Perloe, one-half of a womans eggs will be chromosomally abnormal by the time she reaches forty, a significant increase over just five years earlier, when one-third of her eggs are abnormal.
The answer is clear. One must do what one must do and thinks is right. A glass is always either half-full or half-empty, depending only on ones perspective at the moment. The issue of parenthood can never be a fleeting decision. The consequences are far too extensive and intensive. Think about it heavily, and if your heart tells you this is what you want at all costs, go for it. I might add that I myself have four cats and thats about it.
Did you know . . .