Friday, 6 February 2009

Really Elderly Primipara Gives Birth to Twin Boys: Who's Going to Wait up for Them When They're in High School?

A 60 year old woman in Calgary gave birth to twins this week after--of course!—undergoing fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization. The reports say that the babies, delivered by C section prematurely, are doing well. The mother is quoted as being ecstatic.

When I was pregnant for the first time at 32, I was called an “elderly primapara.” The term is probably not used these days for women beginning their childbearing career in their 30s. Advances in reproductive medicine have pushed the limit for bearing a first child by ten years for women with access to good health care: we know many 40 year olds who are enjoying first babies right now. But the Calgary woman is pushing the limit of what is feasible technically and wise socially. How are she and her husband going to cope as the children grow up? Will they still be around to see them through adolescence?

My friends who have grandchildren already say that while they love the little (not so little) ones, they are often very glad when the parents arrive to take them home. To everything there is a season, and childbearing past menopause is way past the proper time.

Oof, let me lie down. Just thinking about it makes me tired.


patàmodeler said...

Funny that you point that out... I am in this period of life where I have these kind of thoughts rather often.

I am in this period of life where every new parent ends their sentence with "But you can't understand, you don't have any children. By the way, (when) are you/ are you starting to think of/having a child?/Don't worry, you'll meet someone". Why don't you ask me if I want children? OK, I am exagerating a bit and getting off the subject.

I know I am physically not too old to carry and raise a child, but in my head, I am beginning to reach a certain limit. I always say that we should live the end of our twenties twice, the second time to have our children... My mom had her first-born in 1976 at 33, and the third in 1980. She still has her ultrasound for my little sister (nothing to do with the accurate ones we get today). Around me, I must say there are more women having their first-born between 27 and 31 than at 35 and up. But I have friends approaching 40 that would have children if they had someone to start a family with.

I don't know, I feel I am the only one in my thirties thinking that despite of the medical advances or the changes in society, "to everything there is a season", as you beautifully said. OK, maybe my seasons are small. But I can't stop thinking that I would've have enjoyed having my grandparents around now (I have quite a few friends who still have theirs). In an perfect world, I would've liked my parents and children to enjoy each other's company for a rather long period of time.

Funny world.

Martin Langeland said...

Diana, who is a member, calls those who experience childbirth in their 40's the Ancient Mommies Club.

Once Bruce Phillips (aka U. Utah Phillips) stayed at our house while performing in La Conner. His wife called with the news that his son by a former marriage became a father for the first time.
After speaking to Duncan, Bruce called his father to tell the news and ask: "How do I be a Grandfather?"
The answer is one I have treasured ever since.
"Claim all of the privileges and accept none of the responsibilities!"

The great pity is that we decided -- as a culture, to make nuclear families, rather than keep the extended model. Of course in that case consumption might not have been so remunerative.

Mary Soderstrom said...

Patricia, certainly there is a window of time available for child bearing naturally, but you are far from its closing. When you are an older mother you may not have as much energy, but you have much more patience because you aren't antsy to get on with your life. You've already lived a fair chunk of it, so you can enjoy this phase more, I think.

And, Martin, one of the weird things about these times is the resurgence of a new sort of extended family. Adult children and their children are now frequently returning to live with parents, a trend that the increasingly bad economic times is likely to accentuate. The reasons may be economic--lost jobs on the part of the younger generation or dwindling resources for the older--or emotional--break up of a marriage or death of a spouse. The result is the same, and is not altogether a bad thing, it seems to me.