Monday, May 18, 2009

Too old to be a mother?

I read this article HERE about a 66 year old British lady who is 8 months pregnant thanks to fertility treatment.

Obviously because of her age, the assisted pregnancy has attracted a fair bit of attention and criticism. She says " don't have to defend what I have done. It's between me and my baby and no one else." She also says that "It's not my physical age that is important; it's how I feel inside. Some days, I feel 39. Others, I feel 56"

The photo above shows Ms Adeney, she certainly looks fit. Maybe even fitter than me and she could be my grandma. Apparently she is still working 5 days a week.

It got me thinking... So many of my friends and close family have endured painful struggles with infertility. Many have found success with fertility treatments and have gone on to have children. Some much later in life than they had initially planned. Others have not found success yet and maybe when they do, they will be of a certain age. When I think of how much they want to become parents and how wonderful they will be when they finally get their blessing, all notions of "age appropriateness" go out the window.

Well, to a certain extent. I think having a baby at 66 is very dramatic and vastly different to having a baby 46. But then when I challenge myself I wonder if maybe I am being unfair. If I apply the same principles to the argument in favour of the 66 year old woman having a baby to the argument in favour of my 46 year old friend having a baby then I am a hypocrite.

Is 66 as absurd to us as maybe 36 was to our great grandparents? Is my disapproval of the 66 year old just a sign of the times moving quicker than my attitude? Or is it just too old to even entertain the idea?

What are your thoughts on this? I suppose in my mind the biggest stumbling block is the fairness for the child involved. It seems cruel to imagine an 87 year old planning her son's 21st birthday. It seems cruel to imagine the little 10 year old trying to play cricket in the backyard with his ailing 76 year old mummy... but maybe I am being ageist and awful. Maybe it is smug of me to deny this woman the right to feel the joy that motherhood brings because I happened to be in my twenties when I was blessed with my child...

Would love to hear your views.


  1. It is definitely her right, but I personally think it is a poor decision. It isn't fair to the child. Unless she has older children or a much younger husband that will be around after she is gone. Even still her child will most likely be taking care of his/her mother at such a young age. I am 24 and my mother is only 42 and we are best friends. I can't image her being my grandma's age. I do not judge her, but I don't think there is any way I could do that myself.

  2. I had my children in my early 30's and I thought that was late. People are having them in their early 40's now but 60 ish ... don't think that would be fair to the child.

    Hope she has some sort of back up available .. cause what if she gets sick and can't take care of the child.

    Hope it all works out ..

  3. I'm not sure how to draw the line so I don't think there should be one. Cop out?

    In Australia I believe that to receive public IVF treatment you need to meet certain age/weight/health related criteria. I'm not sure what the deal is with private.

    That being said my father-in-law is in his 60s and my sister-in-law is 18. He finds her exhausting! I can only imagine how it would be with such a large age difference and I know I couldn't keep up with a child full-time at that age.

    But, I don't think it is my place to say. There are no guarantees in life, no matter your age and while I do accept it is risky I don't think it is so dangerous or wrong that it warrants banning or restriction.

  4. I agree it's her right but a poor decision. Maybe this woman is in great shape physically and has another 30 years in her, but why put your child at risk for being alone like that?
    I suppose you could argue that all of us could "bite the dust" early, but this seems to be tempting fate a bit too much. To be honest with you, I think it's a little bit selfish. Why not foster a child who needs a loving and nourishing home? I wish her the best, I'm 27 and the mother of two small girls and have a hard enough time keeping up with them!

  5. I have a pretty shrewd opinion on this topic.

    Yes, 66 is too old. Ask any 40 year old new mum and they will tell you they wish they were able to conceive younger. I have nothing but compassion and understanding for women who tried with little or no success at conceiving in their 20's & 30's. It is a wonderful thing when finally they are able to fall pregnant even if it is later in life.

    But, when having a baby comes after exhausting all avenues for fulfilment and happiness there is something completely wrong with that. A child is flesh and blood. And while I can guarantee having a child is incredibly fulfilling, in this woman’s case she has no family or support network around her. When she hits 80 years old her child will be 14. I am concerned for the emotional lively hood of this child.

  6. What percentage of people do you think really had a baby taking into account what the child's life would be like in the future?

    People get pregnant when their marriage is in trouble, when they have serious health issues, when they have financial problems.

    As far as I can tell, most people have children because THEY want children, not because they want to provide a good life for a child. If the later were the case then surely it's easier to be a foster parent, or adopt.
    This being the case I do think that it's hypocritical to say that that lady is too old. If she can provide the most important thing a baby needs - love, then see is already doing better than so many others.

  7. I understand both arguements, she is too old and then there's, she just wants to be a mother something that every woman has the right to be. But when you think about the child, it's not fair for the infant.
    She does look very fit and healthy but there is only so healthy a 66 year old woman can be. She is prob not going to live a long time, I mean Im not God but she isnt going to be able to run and actively take care of the baby. Then soon it's going to be the baby taking care of her and that's prob going to start sooner than usual. I say it because of personal experience
    Im mother was 39 when she had me and for games and things I had to rely on my much older brother and sisters. My mother and I, our thoughts are so different because of the gap and dont get me wrong my mother and I have the a great relationship but I do wish my mother was younger. Im afraid of losing her, I'm 24 and she 63, I want her to see my kids and just grow old with me. I want my children to experience her.. She isnt sick or anything but my neice is 21 and the others are 14-19 so they got to grow up with a gradmother and remember everything about her. I dont want to rush and have children because of it but it's something I do think about.
    So this woman at 66?? You have to worry if anything happens to her, who is going to care for the infant?
    But better late than never.. Maybe she should adopted early in life and now she would've just been taking care of those kids.
    i dont want to say that I'm against this and mad about it because it's her choice. But I don't agree with it.

    I'm going to post this in my blog.. Very interesting..

    Denisi <3

  8. I think it's very wrong, especially as it seems she has no family and certainly no partner. The thought that keeps haunting me is that my Dad died suddenly and unexpectedly at 61... what will become of any tiny child of hers if she drops dead and there is nobody around to find out? Doesn't bear thinking about.

    I don't think 36 was unthinkable for our greatgrandparents. It would unusual for a first child but in the days before contraception they would be having children over a long period of time.

    Mel xxx

    PS I LOVE your blog :)

  9. I do believe that it's her choice and if she feels she is fit enough to endure a pregnancy to produce a HEALTHY child, then ok. However, I don't know how long this child will get to actually know her mother. I mean, when he/she is 20 she'll be 86. I guess it's a personal decision in the end though... Perhaps she feels she'll be able to live longer than the average person. She does look good for 66!

  10. I agree with Christina. Unless there is someone in the immediate family to take the burden off of the child when his/her mommy's health is deteriorating AND to raise the child in case of the mommy's inability or death, then I believe this is a poor decision, as well. I understand wanting to be a mother more than took me having surgery and 13 long months to finally get pregnant and I was 34 when my child was born. I do understand the desperate longing for a child.

  11. I think 66 is too old to have a child, mostly for the child's sake. The child won't have a very long time left with the mother, depending how old the mother lives.

  12. I agree with Christina. Unless there is an immediate family member to take the burden away from the child should his/her mommy's health deteriorate AND to raise the child, then I believe it is a poor decision, as well. I understand wanting a child more than took me having surgery and 13 long months to get pregnant with my son and he was born when I was 34. I do understand the desperate longing for a child and that longing can cloud reasonable judgment.

  13. My mom had me when she was "old" at 28... my friend's mom was just shy of 50! They thought they couldn't have children and had adopted 20 years earlier. Just when they thought the youngest was out of the house a baby was on her way! Although the reality is that they are "old" - especially now that we've aged to 35... and there will be many years where her parents won't be a living part of her life -- but I know she wouldn't trade places with a younger mom in a heartbeat! Those are her parents and the years shared together are something that she will treasure always, regardless of their ages.

  14. I agree...her choice but a poor one at that.
    Seems a bit selfish to me.
    I have parents that had two more children when my mom was 42 and then when she was 44.
    My youngest sisters have commented often about how hard it is for them to have parents so much older than their friends.
    I can't imagine the adjustments the child will have to make.

  15. I personally think it is selfish to have a child at 66 years of age. Nature stops the child bearing process for a reason. While any child is a blessing indeed, why not adopt an older child? Why not volunteer at an orphange if you long to be around babies? I just think there are many things that were not considered in this decision.

    Regardless of how she feels "inside" her body has aged in real time. And yes it may be "between her and her baby," but clearly the baby wasn't considered in the decision.

    Selfish selfish selfish!

  16. Too old and selfish, besides. Infertility is nature's way of letting you know you were not meant to have children. This is science gone too far every bit as much as "playing god."

  17. I can only wish this woman and her child the best of luck. I had two boys in my twenties, with energy to burn, I could have had ten little bleepers running around. I had my daughter when I turned 45 and I feel like 80 every morning when I wake up. I have got less energy, it is much harder as you get older, I have found. I had so much energy before I had my daughter, I thought it would be a cinch. I did have a few medical problems post birth that have been rectified, so maybe I'm still recovering, but I would recommend have your kids when you are younger, and good luck otherwise.

  18. I must say that I am less shocked then the british boy who was a father at 13. At least at 66 she is finacially secure and knows what she is getting herself into. Oh yeah and least understands what financial is.

  19. Infertility is nature's way of letting you know you were not meant to have children.

    Olga - That is a very sad statement to make. :(

    I don't think having a baby 66 is the right thing to do. I think fostering a child in need would have been a better decision.

  20. I believe that no one can tell a woman when the 'right' time to bring a child in to the world is.

    In a world where neglect and abuse are rife (sadly in Australia its at an all time high),if this lady feels that she has love to offer a baby and the life experience to raise it, then good luck to her. I know it sounds cliche and perhaps optimistic but love will endure - and as the Beatles said "all you need is love!" The rest of the details - age, sex, same sex partners etc.. are trivial in comparison!

  21. Some really thoughtful comments here and I have to say I agree. It is a shame this lady did not choose motherhood through fostering or adopting an older child who really needs a mum.

    Saying infertility is nature's way of saying someone isn't meant to have children is like saying disease is nature's way of saying you should die. We treat disease and we treat infertility.

    That said, there is a line and maybe 66 is over it, then again who am I to say what that line should be? Where do you draw it?

  22. I consider myself very fortunate to be the mother of two healthy children (now age 16 & 20), and had them both in my early 20's. I had a tubal ligation in my late 20's, then divorced at 34, and remarried at 37. I would have loved to have been able to give my husband a child of his own, but it wasn't in the cards for us and at 37 I was thinking about how exhausting it had been to be pregnant and also when they were both babies, and wondering if I could really handle that all over. I know having children at a young age isn't possible for everyone, but I think anything over 50 is really pushing it. Our bodies are just not made for it.

    When I heard this story on the news last night, my first reaction was - how selfish! Even though she feels well now, any day it could change in a heartbeat and then her child is the one that will suffer. I feel sad that she felt that this was the only way to fulfill her need to parent at this late stage of her life. I pray that I'm wrong and that she's right and that she lives to be a healthy 100 year old mom.

  23. Wasn't meant to be sad...was meant to be harsh. What's sad is how quickly we can make judgements of someone else. Kudos to stepford dreams for her self-examination. We react, but, really, who are we to judge?

  24. Infertility is nature's way of letting you know you were not meant to have children.

    I am sure that Olga did not say this to offend anyone but I think it is inaccurate. There are so many children out there that are concieved naturally and their parents should not be parents. The drug addicts, children abusers and pedophiles and list goes on. I think if nature screened parents then it should be doing a better job.