Australia’s oldest mum gave birth on Monday after undergoing fertility treatment at 63. The Tasmanian woman and her 78-year-old husband had reportedly been trying for a baby for years and managed to conceive using a donor embryo overseas and undergoing IVF treatment.
Instead of being congratulated and showered in love like other new mothers, this new mum is being labelled as ‘irresponsible’ for bringing a child into the world at her age.
The medical professionals who administered her fertility treatments are also being slammed.
I, for one, couldn’t be happier for her. For me the birth of a new baby is always a beautiful time, regardless of the age of the mother involved. I admire her for a few reasons.
Australian comedian Mary Coustas underwent 23 rounds of IVF before conceiving her daughter Jamie. She and Mia Freedman spoke about her experience on the podcast No Filter!
Firstly, she didn’t give up on her dream of motherhood after undergoing fertility treatment for years, probably decades.
Secondly, she didn’t let her advancing years stop her from doing what she wanted.
Fertility treatments are a miracle and we should all have equal access to them, regardless of our age or circumstances.
Otherwise, we’ll end up living in a society where other people get to decide for us if and when we can become parents.
That’s not the kind of society I want to be a part of.
I’m also just really sick of older women being judged for deciding to become parents.
To quote my daughter, who was conceived accidentally, “It’s none of their beeswax”.
If anything, children conceived using fertility treatments are even more cherished (if that’s possible) than those conceived naturally, because the mums have been through so much to get there. There’s nothing accidental about them.
To the medical professionals who have weighed in on Australia’s oldest mum, I would like to say: You are not gods. You don’t get to decide who does and doesn’t get to be a mum.
Take, for example, Professor Gab Kovacs from Monash University who declared that ‘responsible’ IVF clinics refused treatments of women over the age of 53, saying that is the “end of natural pregnancy. That child will need looking after for 20 years, and there’s a possibility she won’t be able to do that.”
“Our bodies weren’t designed to have children in our 60s. I don’t think any responsible IVF unit in Australia would treat someone of that age, and it’s not a standard of medicine I would condone.”
It was a topic discussed on the Mamamia Out Loud podcast this week. Article continues after this video.
Young parents die all the time, leaving their children to be raised by others.
Plus, “natural pregnancy” already ended years ago when the first fertility treatments were developed.
The assisted fertility genie is well and truly out of the bottle.
Who is the person who gets to decide on the characteristics a woman must have to even access fertility treatments?
What if she’s not smart enough, or had substance abuse issues, or a family history of bowel cancer? Who plays god?
And might I point out that while our bodies may not be designed to have children in our 60s, this mum not only fell pregnant – but managed to carry her child to term.
It’s an achievement that should be celebrated.
It's also a relief to know that women can become parents when they are older, they are no longer at the mercy of a biological timeline, that they don't have to rush to find a partner, to establish their careers or to have enough money.
Australian women over 40 having fertility treatment has almost tripled in the last decade.
Although only one in 100 women over 44 will deliver a live baby, they still have the right to try.
A recent investigation by Four Corners found that, last year, fertility treatment cost Medicare more than $250 million and that figure is mentioned every time we hear a story about what is deemed 'irresponsible use' of fertility treatment.
But women using fertility treatments pay their taxes just like the rest of us and have every right to access Medicare for those fertility treatments.
Age is no longer a barrier and Australia's oldest mum is further proof of that.
I wish the family nothing but the best.