iVillage editor Holly thought she was an old mum, until she heard about a 49-year-old Hollywood star giving birth this week. Here, a personal tale about a ‘geriatric’ pregnancy, and some wise words from an obsty who knows…
When it comes to telling young women to hurry up and have a baby, I always feel like directing them to the wise words of Tina Fey.
“Yes, I definitely should have had a baby when I was 27, living in Chicago over a biker bar, pulling down a cool $12,000 a year. That would have worked out great.” Yes, Tina, it would.
Or Tina’s colleague, Maya Rudolph, who was responding to an expert’s book urging women to get on with it: “Yeah, Sylvia, maybe your next book should tell men our age to stop playing Grand Theft Auto III and holding out for the chick from Alias.” Perfecto, Maya, even if those pop-culture references are now more dated than the Spice Girls.
These days, I think most women have pretty well swallowed the message that fertility drops drastically when you’re older. The Laura Linneys (first child at 49) and Halle Berrys (second child at 47) of the world are diluting that message, but the attention given to their stories illustrates they are the exception, and not the norm. And, as ivillage’s publisher Mia Freedman very well argues, those women have likely had some scientific assistance.
But also, you don’t always get to choose when you become a mother.
I had my first baby at 38. My second (and last, I am pretty certain) at 40. Before that, I was not ready. I spent my 20s travelling and thoroughly enjoying dating inappropriate men. I spent most of my 30s working, working, working, having found my feet in a career that I love.
Crucially, I didn’t meet the man I wanted to have children with until I was 33. And then we had to, you know, get to know each other. And the path to successful pregnancy was not entirely smooth (possibly it might have been if I was younger, but I’ll never know). So now I’ll spend my 40s being a working mum to small children. Which sometimes feels like an exhausting prospect, but also feels right, because I am where I want to be.
My numbers are not unusual any more. It’s not Laura Linney territory. But is 40 too old? It depends who you ask.
It’s certainly old enough to ring alarm bells in prenatal care.
“Um, Holly,” my midwife was on the phone. It was a Saturday morning, so I knew something was up. “I just realised, you’re 40”