Childbirth at 60 and "We are pregnant"

No, I am not.

But I
could possibly bear more children if I followed the path of the 60-year old Canadian woman, Ranjit Hayer, who delivered twin boys last week, after getting IVF treatments in India. The seven weeks' premature babies are in "good" condition, the parents relieved and thrilled.

The Canadian media debate the ethics of supporting IVF for women over what one OB calls "the natural gestational age, up to 50". Since Canadians are generally moderate and polite, the consensus seems to be, "if she was advised of the risks (which are substantial), and chose to proceed, it's her business"
though some have called it "selfish" and "unethical". Another example of telling women what to do based on their age.

Arthur Schafer, writing in The Globe and Mail on Feb. 9, 2009 commented that some call it "unnatural", saying "But why should we look to nature (or to Nature) to find our ethics? Nature is often red in tooth and claw. All of modern medicine interferes with nature. Is there an important moral distinction between using technology to correct abnormalities (such as a blocked fallopian tube) versus using technology to improve nature? I don't see it. It's entirely natural, as you age, that your eyesight deteriorates. So reading glasses are unnatural. But they aren't, on that account, unethical."

I tried to imagine bringing two baby boys home now, as I did 21 years ago.

Night feedings wouldn't be a problem, I'm awake at 3 am. most of the time anyway. I'd no longer fret about a detour from the business world, I've done all that. The only scary part is being 75 when they turn 15. The music, the moods, the vast amounts of food to buy and prepare, the continual, mostly futile attempts to impart the thinnest veneer of civilization. Maybe I'd have more patience at 75.


Mrs. Hayer tried to conceive for decades, was cheated of her money on the first attempt, and returned to Canada to regroup and try again in India. Like us, I hope Jagir and Ranjit Hayer enjoy watching their sons grow.

On another note, I've heard several young couples announce recently, "We are pregnant".


We?
How did this idiotic locution take hold? I suppose couples want to telegraph that the guy is ardently involved, not just a donor. I prefer clarity: she is pregnant, he is a father-to-be.

16 comments

nancygrayce said...

Hi! I came over to visit from somewhere....but now I can't remember! I totally agree that this we are pregnant is a new thing! If we are pregnant, he can have the labor part of things. :) My first was born when I was 18 and now I'm 56, I cannot in any way imagine having a baby now. AHHHHH I'd have to be put "away".

Anjela said...

I suspect 'we' women like to give our partners some credit aside from the 30 second contribution ha ha
But seriously, I have men making a pathway to me day after day (to replace batteries and watch straps) in my store and it irks me to hear them say 'we' everything is 'we' we live right around the corner" I peered out over the counter to see who we was. I only saw one person. "We just returned from Nantucket" "who....you and your invisible friend" I still couldn't see anyone. I think it is ridiculous when grown people who are standing alone....not another soul in sight use "we"
In comment to your blog- I think nature is amazing- fascinating- and if you had your boys now your hearing would be so decreased by the time they reach their teens that you wouldn't even mind how loud it was:)
You would have infinite patience and I still think you could do it!
I went to my gyn three years ago right during menopause which I am still going through and longed for a baby- not actually longed but somehwere in my hormonal makeup I longed for the ability to still be this fertile being. She immediately said "I can refer you to a specialit-I can't see a problem with you having a baby" I smiled- that was all I wanted to hear- the ability. Not the actuality.
By the way I loved this hopeful posting. Thanks!

materfamilias said...

pleased to read a thoughtful response -- the level of condemnation is surprising and so much of it is far too vehement given how many other, much more troubling issues confront us daily. No one seems nearly as perturbed by the many seniors who end up parenting their grandchildren because other support is lacking!

Duchesse said...

Anjela: Maybe this is his way of letting you know he is 'taken'? (ROWFL). Like those women who begin every sentence, "My husband and I..."

nancygrace: They would probably die after 2 min. of labour.

materfamilias: This means siblings could be over 40 years apart, imagine that!

Lisa said...

Oh, I thought I was the only one who thinks "We are pregnant." is stupid. It really bothers me.

I also keep hearing people refer to their children with "our daughter" or "our son". I know my husband is the father, but geez, my daughter sounds fine to me.

greying pixie said...

Arthur Schager conveniently avoids the issue, which is that the life and future wellbeing of a child is at stake. If society no longer has to operate 'naturally', why then do women still insist that their possession of a womb gives them the right to have a child?

Imogen Lamport said...

difficult topic - I see both sides of the debate, but vere toward the she shouldn't be doing it - why not go out there and foster some kids in need. I've friends who had very old parents (and they were younger than these will be when their kids are teenages), and they said it was hard to get on and their parents really didn't understand them (more so than the average teenager).

I think there is a reason for menopause, and that's that it's time to stop breeding. We might still be awake at 3am, but our energy is not the same. I noticed a difference when I had my second child at 37 how much less energy I had than the first time round at 34 - and that's nowhere near 60!

Plus, chance of premature death of the parent/s is so much greater at that age.

My 2c worth!

By the way - I so admire many grandparents who step in and look after the kids when the parents can't/won't - but I don't think that this is the ideal situation.

Completely Alienne said...

I am 52 and I don't think I could cope with a baby now, I don't have the energy I did when mine were young. My mother in law took on a very young grandchild full time 15 years when she was 60 and I know how tiring she has found that. I don't envy Mrs Hayer, but it's her choice.

Duchesse said...

GP: Pls note I quoted only one para of the piece. I'm not sure what you are advocating. Should the state legislate the circumstances (maternal age, viability, or other risk factors) of when a woman may bear a child, or (as in China) how many she can bear? I have not heard the Hayers frame their decision as a 'right', it was a deeply held desire.

Imogen and Alienne: These are among the reasons many people are critical of the event. I think childbirth at 60 will always be an exception for these reasons. But it is itneresting that when Pierre Trudeau (former PM of Canada) fathered a child at 71 there was a lot of "way to go, you rogue". No one I read suggested he was too old.

Duchesse said...

Lisa: Yes, there's that one too. It's less grating to me, and I wonder if that's because there are so many blended families with her son, my son and our daughter.

greying pixie said...

Duchesse, what I mean is that once you step into the 'unnatural' then to say that maternal instinct is natural and therefore you are entitled to have a child at 60 is surely also no longer valid.

I haven't really thought this through yet, but I'm not sure that certain scientific procedures should necessary be available just because they are possible.

Anjela said...

Duchesse comment on your response to my comment....I think you are right...Do they see me with my blue eys and kindly smile as actually wanting them? Pants tied up above their navel- glasses with strings attached in case they forget they are on their balding heads- Women in this town are looking more attractive to me(and I am straight) than the men. Gnarly old guys who look as though they have had their life's blood sucked out of them. I suppose I should not be seemingly delighted to change their batteries-I have told them they are Lithium batteries so if they ever get depressed they can suck on the batteries- hah hah they actually believe me.

lagatta à montréal said...

Actually, I did think Yves Montand, Trudeau etc fathering babies so late in life was sad, for the child.

An aunt of mine had a baby at my age (I'm eligible for Passage des perles, though not really what one would call elegant)... and sadly, the lad turned out developmentally delayed. I know that can happen younger as well, but once you'v reached 50 it is really pushing it. She is a strong Catholic (I'm a heathen Catholic) and abortion was out of the question. But it made me very sad as she was the relative I most admired - she was a nurse in the Canadian army and travelled the world over, even to the USSR back before it was really opened up to tourism, and brought back Matrushkas and beautiful, if heavy, fur coats and hats.

I'm sure she loves her son deeply - though he is not a very "loveable" disabled person, alas, but a surly, resntful one - but the late pregancy really changed her life for the worse.

Duchesse said...

lagatta: I had testing for genetic abnormalities b/c I was an elderly mother (a relatively young 39)- if the results show problems, then you have to decide. Some women are offered testing but decline. My OB said "You do NOT want to be surprised" which was my thought as well.

Didn't Picasso also father a child in his 70s? Some men are not very present fathers regardless of age.

Anjela: I think there's a book in you about this!

lagatta à montréal said...

Duchesse, my cousin is at least 35; I doubt such testing was spontaneously offered in Catholic hospitals here back then even if it had been developed. It is a whole other world in Québec now, with the lowest marriage rate in the world, and a majority of children in normal, stable homes born "out of wedlock".

My aunt is very elderly now, don't like to think about that too much, but there are a lot of cousins around in the village where they live.

Oh, Picasso, wouldn't surprised me, but he was a particularly "phallic" artist. Trying to keep your elegant blog within the confines of good taste!

Imogen Lamport said...

I think men having children at 60+ is also a bad move - the father is even less likely than the mother to live until the child reaches adulthood.

It is basically irresponsible.