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The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Motherhood: Pregnancy over 50 – Part 2

posted by Donna Henes

 

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!

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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.)

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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.

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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.”

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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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

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Motherhood: Pregnancy over 50 – Part 1

posted by Donna Henes

 

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 1

by Cyma Shapiro

I’m a little enamored of a Wikipedia category called “Pregnancy Over 50.” In it, it provides a historical timetable of women who gave birth over the age of 50. Women like Elizabeth Greenhill, born in 1615, who had 39 children with her husband William Greenhill, and gave birth to her last child (naturally) in 1669 at age 54, with London surgeon Thomas Greenhill. She is the first woman noted in this lengthy list.

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In 1996, Judy Bershak, of Los Angeles, gave birth to her first child at the age of 50. Bershak got married at the age of 44, and after failing to both conceive naturally and adopt, she went through IVF treatment and became pregnant on her first attempt. In 2000, Elizabeth Edwards, 50, wife of the former U.S. Senator John Edwards, gave birth to a son in 2000. And in 2010, Karen Johnston, from England, gave birth to twins at the age of 54 after undergoing IVF in the Czech Republic. All of these women fall under the 50-54 category.

In the 55-59 category, a 57-year-old Indian woman gave birth (with IVF) in Melbourne, in 2010, setting a record to become the oldest mother in Australia.

In the 60-64 category, Arceli Keh, of California, gave birth to a daughter in 1996, at the age of 63.  In 2010, Bulgarian psychiatrist Krasimira Dimitrova, 62, gave birth to female twins, also using IVF. Dimitrova decided to become pregnant after she was refused the option of adoption because of her age.

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In the 65-66 category (why they’d have a category for one year confounds me), in 1999,  Harriet Stole, 66, from North London, gave birth to a son, after agreeing to be a surrogate mother for her infertile daughter in-law. One year later, Jennifer Hong, age 65, gave birth to her second child, in Canada. Becoming a mother later in life, she is quoted as saying, “It doesn’t matter how old you are. It just matters that I have a family which I love.”

Finally, in the 67-70 category, Wikipedia lists only two women, both of whom accomplished the same achievement in the same year. In 2008, Omkari Panwar gave birth to twins in India via emergency cesarean section at the age of 70. Omkari became pregnant through IVF treatment, which she and her husband pursued in order to produce a male heir. Omkari has two adult daughters and five grandchildren. In response to hearing that she’d possibly broken the record for world’s oldest mother, Omkari stated, “If I am the world’s oldest mother it means nothing to me. I just want to see my new babies and care for them while I am still able.”

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Also, Rajo Devi Lohan gave birth to a daughter at the age of 70. Lohan’s health deteriorated soon after and she claimed she had not been informed of any dangers. Her doctor said, “Even though Rajo’s health is deteriorating, at least she will die in peace. She does not have to face the stigma of being barren.”

In total, nearly 100 women are listed in this Wikipedia article – a mere fraction of the real total throughout the world. In fact, since I’ve interviewed a few of the women listed here, I know that some of the dates and facts are incomplete. Nevertheless, this list remains a “Who’s Who” of pioneers and women from around the world who broke barriers and cultural traditions, simply by having children. (Remember, too, that this group doesn’t count any later-age women who have chosen to adopt/foster/guardian children). While this list is intended to inform and educate, it reads like a List of Champions – world record-holders who must surely have received some medal(s), as they unintentionally topped one another.  I fear not…

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Tomorrow: Motherhood: Pregnancy over 50 – Part 2

*****

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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

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An Empty Nest Poem

posted by Donna Henes

 

An Empty Nest Poem

By Mary Jean Iron

 

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.

Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.

 

Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.

Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.

 

One day I shall dig my nails into the earth,

or bury my face in the pillow,

or stretch myself taut,

or raise my hands to the sky and want,

more than all the world, your return.

 

*****

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.

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Consult the Midlife Midwife™: 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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

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From an Empty Nest

posted by Donna Henes

 

From an Empty Nest

By Anna Quindlen

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves.

Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past. Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations — what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

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Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet trained at three, his brother at two. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.

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I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language — mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, “What did you get wrong?” (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

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But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

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That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

*****

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 the Midlife Midwife™: 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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

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