Forty is the New Twenty to have a Baby

Several comments to the post 40 is the New 20 for Having Babies unfairly "target" women who wait well into their thirties and later to have their babies. One commenter titled her thoughts, "the cult of maternal narcissism" and felt that a woman waited because she was "too wrapped up in her own desires, and not wanting to bear the burden of responsibility…"

There may be a few women who fall within that description, but it is often the case that extremely narcissistic women remain childless. The women who make a conscious decision to bear children later in life usually have sound reasons or extenuating circumstances that prevented them from having babies in their 20s and early 30s.

Most women today realize that they need or may need at some point to support themselves and their child or contribute to the family's income. They believe that completing their education or adding an advanced degree will help them in the job market and/or increase their salary potential now or in the future. It doesn't seem narcissistic to want to and be able to support your children and give them the best life you can.

The high rates of infertility in this country also contribute to the number of older women having babies. Many try for years to become pregnant. Having a baby at a later age was hardly their first choice. Neither is later parenting necessarily the first choice of those who must care for an ill or aging parent or close relative that can eat into their financial resources, time, and emotional reserves-all helpful, if not, vital for raising healthy, happy children.

We don't always know the challenges another person faces. Being quick to judge or lump people into categories without knowledge of their intent, feelings, or misfortunes is irresponsible on any front. In the area of procreation, it is especially risky. In my original post on this topic, I noted that 85 percent of older mothers are married. Someone took issue and wrote: "The option of having a child younger was there, older mothers just chose not to." Maybe it was there and maybe not: Not all "older mothers" married in their twenties, and if they did, they may have divorced before having children. In countering the negative comments, another commenter asked: "Is it a bad thing to want to have a loving partner, home and means of support before having children?"

Alex Kuczynski didn't find "her loving partner" and the man she wanted to marry and have children with until she was 32; they married when she was 34. For the next five years, they tried most options available to achieve pregnancy and carry a baby to term including "11 I.V.F cycles and four failed pregnancies." Alex's article, "Her Body, My Baby," details her years of in vitro fertilization, miscarriage, heartbreak, and costs before hiring a woman to bear hers and her husband's child. Gestational surrogacy differs from traditional surrogacy as Alex points out in that the fertilized egg carries the parents' egg and sperm, not that of the "traditional" surrogate whose egg makes her the biological mother.

Alex's story is extreme, her financial situation atypical, and, as she notes, raises all sorts of moral, religious, and social questions, however, it highlights the desperate lengths a woman will go to have the baby she wants at whatever age she happens to be.

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