Since May is Mothering Month, I intend to post a diverse array of articles over the next two weeks by, about and for mothers.
Motherhood: Pregnancy over 50 – Part 2
by Cyma Shapiro
What strikes me the most is that my initial reaction to reading this was, “Wow! These women are (too) old!” Silly words for a woman who began her (second) family at age 46, and 48, respectively. Sillier, too, for someone who has worked tirelessly to bring websites and an art gallery show entitled NURTURE: Stories of New Midlife Mothers to this country – projects intended to celebrate and educate the public about the newest chapter in the women’s movement – the new middle age for women and the lives of new older mothers. Motherhood Later celebrates this very thing; we all know it, because we are living it!
Development -However, the innate biases remain the same. Once taken out of context, I am the culprit, as I’m sure are you! For this reason, alone, the topic of new older motherhood deserves more conversation and more debate. This increasingly common and popular trend does not seem to be diminishing, and therefore deserves to be out of the closet. And, yet there are hundreds, if not thousands of women who remain fearful of being in this category not just because of potential medical complications, but for the stigma attached to their having made decisions (that were right for them) during their Advanced Maternal Age. (Wikipedia’s definition of this is: an increase in the age at which women give birth to their first child, [which] is now a widespread, and indeed [a] near universal phenomenon across the OECD -Organization for Economic C0-operation and Development – countries.)
Footnote: The AMA age in America is 35 and older.
Because of this, many women opt not to move forward in obtaining their goals and fulfilling their desires – that is, to simply be mothers. I do not mean to minimize the intricacies involved here; there are many facets to this complicated situation.
Wikipedia’s debate section concludes with the following: “Pregnancies among older women have been a subject of controversy and debate. Some argue against motherhood late in life on the basis of the health risks involved, or out of concern that an older mother might not be able or around to care for a child as she ages, while others contend that having a child is a fundamental right and that it is commitment to a child’s wellbeing, not the parents’ ages, that matters.
A survey of attitudes towards pregnancy over age 50 among Australians found that 54.6% believed it was acceptable for a postmenopausal woman to have her own eggs transferred and that 37.9% believed it was acceptable for a postmenopausal women to receive donated ova or embryos.
Governments have sometimes taken actions to regulate or restrict later-in-life childbearing. In the 1990’s, France approved a bill, which prohibited postmenopausal pregnancy. (At the time) the French Minister of Health was quoted as saying it was “…immoral as well as dangerous to the health of mother and child.” In Italy, the Association of Medical Practitioners and Dentists prevented its members from providing women aged 50 and over with fertility treatments. Britain’s then-Secretary of State for Health, Virginia Bottomley, stated, “Women do not have the right to have a child; the child has a right to a suitable home.” However, in 2005, age restrictions on IVF in the United Kingdom were officially withdrawn. Legal restrictions are only one of the barriers confronting women seeking IVF, as many fertility clinics and hospitals set age limits of their own.”
I do not have any answers, here, nor do I wish to share my personal feelings on the subject. However, I remain convinced that everything in life deserves attention, especially when it reflects an individual’s (truths and) true needs and desires. For this, and for these women, motherhood remains everything.
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult her at: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.