Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How old is too old to have a baby?

Days like today, when I've had about 30 minutes sleep since 3:30am (thanks, Sophia), I'd say 36 is too old. But British woman, Elizabeth Adeney (above) is set to give birth and she has an extra 30 years on me...that's right, she will become a mum for the first time a few weeks before her 67th birthday.

A successful businesswoman, she says she feels fit and ready to have a child and is not concerned about the lack of support available to her (she is divorced and has no family in the UK). She also says she wants someone to leave her money too. I say, let's see how sprightly and independent she feels at 2am when her baby has a raging fever and all the money in the world can't make it better.

Her son was conceived by IVF treatment using a donor egg at a clinic in Ukraine as British clinics refuse to treat woman over 50. I have a bit of a problem with this.

I think menopause is the body's way of saying "hey, having a baby at your age probably isn't such a hot idea...so let's just shut off all that equipment that would give you that option." Donor eggs, of course, mean that women of any age can fall pregnant even if their own are no longer viable.

Having had to get some help along the way with our first little treasure, I firmly believe in the right of any woman to access assisted reproduction - but I think this really pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable.

Ethical issues aside, has Ms Adeney given any thought to how she might cope with kicking a soccer ball with her son at, say, 77? Or whether she'll even still be alive to see him reach adulthood? To me, it smacks of selfishness.


shon said...

OK so I'll jump in and just say personally I think its far too old. As you said the body has its stages for a reason and the fact that she had to go out of the UK said it all. If she still has a perfectly good womb then maybe she should think of surrogacy to help young couples realise their dream...

Bells said...

I'm not really bothered by it. I think the number of women this will happen to is pretty minimal since the stats say that even with treatment, women over a certain are are unlikely to be achieve a pregnancy, much less a live birth. If a few manage it, well it's their choice.

No one REALLY questions older dads, do they? Sure they probably aren't so quick on their feet but lots of older dads say they're having the time of their lives, doing it when they're ready. Fair's fair, I reckon.

Anonymous said...

I think with older dads, perhaps people / society naturally assume that mum is young enough to do most of the running around?

I think it's way too old. And a bit gross really. Let it go, you missed the baby boat. It's just so selfish! That poor kid will be left looking after a haggard old woman before they're out of their teens.

Amy Sheaves said...

I hope you don't mind...here is my response from another blogsite.

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.

Kristin said...

Ick. That poor kid.

bugmum said...

Amy, you pretty much sum up my attitude - the fact that, should something happen to her, the child will be all alone. And she will be all along during what, as we mums know, can be a really, really hard slog!

I think this ethical dilemma is something that we will face more and more as new technology is developed...just because we CAN do it, should we?

Iris said...

I'm not that into it. Just the thought of a 14-year-old having an 80-year-old mother seems sad (for the child, mostly).

Bells, you raise a good point re: older dads. I gotta say that I do question that, too - one in particular I know is on to his 4th marriage and 4th set of children, and when I see them together he barely interacts with his daughters, almost as though he doesn't quite know what they're doing here. I understand a woman's desire to have children more than I do a man's need to prove his enduring virility..