Pregnancy in your 40s selfish?

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Pregnancy in your 40s selfish?

Debate question: Is pregnancy in your 40's selfish? What do you think of this take:

[h=1]41 and Pregnant: So What?[/h]

On Friday, British columnist Ashley Pearson, who had her first child at 41, described her discomfort about being part of a recent BBC radio program debating whether older mothers are selfish. "Despite my near-visceral reaction that the question is just plain silly, apparently many people still think so," Pearson wrote. "A recent study showed that a staggering 70 percent of women over the age of 55 are opposed to and uncomfortable with women having babies in their 40s." While the panel consisted of three women and one man, she says the last word was given to the male, a member of British Parliament who had his proverbial knickers in a twist about fertility rates. "[He said] that while some women can have babies later in life, most can't," recounted Pearson in the article. "And that you better get on with it then, hadn't you? On that depressing note, we closed the show."

It's true that in the United States, as well as in the U.K., more and more women are delaying having babies. According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control, birthrates for women in their 40s are at their highest since 1967. With larger numbers of women holding down demanding jobs and with the availability of improved fertility treatments, the increase isn't surprising. In the 1960s, women who were giving birth in their 40s were on a third or fourth child; now it's often their first. But why should having a baby later in life be considered "selfish" at all?

Today's older mothers are often called selfish presumably because women over 35 have a greater risk of delivering a baby with birth defects, including Down syndrome. However, many health issues, including cancer, mental illness, and autism, are associated with older fathers. Dads of a certain age, though, are considered generous, because they "give" their wives (who are often younger) children. And the same argument holds for critics who weep for children whose older mothers will die earlier, though that hand-wringing does not seem to apply to every paunchy Hollywood actor or grizzled rock star with wrinkles, gray hair, and a litter of toddlers. Another reason why older mothers might be considered selfish is that they are providing their country with fewer babies. This is certainly the case in Britain, where the government has launched a full-throttle fertility campaign, including scary posters of a 40-something pregnant woman made up to look ancient, with the caption "I wish I'd had my babies younger."

Sure, it would be nice if we could plan out perfect lives ahead of time, but the reality is, many women don't have a lot of choices. During a family dinner on Sunday, my stepdaughter, who is 23 and recently became a member of the full-time labor force, quizzed me on how women are supposed to manage having both children and a career. She's suddenly seeing firsthand that the modern working world allows scant time for taking care of one's self, let alone a pack of kids. My spontaneous answer was, "I have no idea." Despite the fact that I'm a full-time working mother, I didn't have any insightful tips. I sacrificed a number of years of my career in order to care for my youngest daughter, who is now 15. While I'm grateful for that time, it was one of intense anxiety over our family budget, and now, those years gone forever, and I'm out-ranked and out-earned by many of my colleagues who are a decade younger than me.

Another way women muddle through (forget "balance" ? seesaw is more like it) is to delay childbearing until their late 30s or early 40s, when their seniority is more entrenched. And it pays off: According to University of Virginia economist Amalia Miller, each year a woman delays childbearing results in an increase of career earnings by 10 percent. But even the term "delaying childbearing" presumes a grand plan: What if you don't fall in love until you're 35 or older, or life hijacks you in another 100 unexpected ways?

What I should have said to my stepdaughter was that the answer may lie in some conversation she needs to have with her future partner. It's mothers and fathers shouldering the responsibility for kids as a team and working out solutions together who might determine innovative ways to achieve that magical balance that has eluded women thus far.

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Selfish?

Isn't it always selfish? What makes it more or less selfish at a certain age? This is just silly.

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No, I do not think it is selfish.

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I consider having children to be somewhat selfish, I had kids for me (that I share with the world, but mostly they are for me)

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"mom3girls" wrote:

I consider having children to be somewhat selfish, I had kids for me (that I share with the world, but mostly they are for me)

I disagree. Being a parent can be one of the most selfless things possible.

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"mom3girls" wrote:

I consider having children to be somewhat selfish, I had kids for me (that I share with the world, but mostly they are for me)

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I disagree. Being a parent can be one of the most selfless things possible.

ITA with both of these; they are not mutually exclusive. The decision to have a child absolutely is selfish, in that most people do it to satisfy something in themselves and not because they want to make the world better by bringing yet another person into it, but I also think that, in order to be a good parent, you do need to have a certain sense of selflessness.

I do think that older moms, especially first time older moms, are often viewed as more selfish because there is an assumption that you must have used fertility treatments, since you obviously didn't care enough about having your kids at the normal time in life, and you must have used all the money you were saving up all those childless years to pay for donor eggs and IVF now that you've finally decided that you want them. And I think it's also partly because people are scared of getting older, or they think of their own grandparents raising little kids, and they project those thoughts onto others, you're depriving your kids because you won't be able to run around with them, since all 50-somethings hobble around with canes, and then you're going to die before they're out of high school and they'll be leaches on society so thanks a lot. You don't get that combination with the other mom groups.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I disagree. Being a parent can be one of the most selfless things possible.

Being a parent is selfless (most of the time) but bringing children into the world can be selfish. Everyone has different reasons for having kids, and for picking the age they have kids. And most of the time the reasons people do what they do can be pointed out as being selfish. We started having kids when I was young (Dh is older then me) because we wanted to be able to be young grandparents and have time after the kids were out of the house to travel, that could be considered selfish

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I am an older mom and I've never felt any sort of negativity about it. I had my son at 37 and my daughter at 41. No one has ever made me feel like it was a wrong choice, or assumed that I had to have any special help to conceive. (I didn't.)

And I agree, having kids is selfless AND selfish.

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I think its a good thing to be selfish in deciding when to have children. They are your children and you have to raise them...its beneficial for everyone involved for you to be as happy as possible with your situation!

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I see what the article means. We just had a loss (of twins). I would have been 43 when the babies were born. My husband would have been 46. That means when the kids were graduating high school, their parents would be 61 and 64, very close to retirement. By the time they were 40, we'd be 83 and 86. It sets them up to be an orphan much sooner than is typical. I have less energy (but more income) than I did at 23. I can see how it's fine for the parents, but at some time, the kids could suffer. (Though my husband's parents died when he was in his 30s, of smoking related deaths, so who can tell anyways)

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"CamelNoodle" wrote:

I see what the article means. We just had a loss (of twins). I would have been 43 when the babies were born. My husband would have been 46. That means when the kids were graduating high school, their parents would be 61 and 64, very close to retirement. By the time they were 40, we'd be 83 and 86. It sets them up to be an orphan much sooner than is typical. I have less energy (but more income) than I did at 23. I can see how it's fine for the parents, but at some time, the kids could suffer. (Though my husband's parents died when he was in his 30s, of smoking related deaths, so who can tell anyways)

My parents were 41 and 48 when they had me. I was also their 6th child so my parents were already knee deep into parenthood by the time i came around. They were definitely more tired and had less energy. I turn 37 this year and both of them are not in great health, yet still independent and honestly i do worry about them passing away. They used to watch my borther's kids after school, he's 19 years older than me), there is no way they could have done that for my children, it would have been hard on them.

But in the grand scheme of things, all these things are just kind of...i don't know, minor really. They were good parents that raised me well so it doesn't matter that much in the end. It did however affect my own personal preference in when i wanted to have children. I decided long ago that i did not want to have children later in life. And I think thats okay too.

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I'm wondering if the article is only asking the question is it selfish to have your 1st child older? It makes no reference to someone who has other children and has another child older (hence the last time the levels of over 40 births was in 1967, when I am assuming that many of these births were to families that were larger)

The judgement seems to be on the fact that many women are establishing themselves before marriage and/or children and therefore postponing babies for a career or self exploration.

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I think it is silly. If you want children and are capable of having them then go for it. I had my oldest son when I was 23 and my youngest when I was 41. There are good things and bad things about having kids when you are younger and having kids when you are older. I think though I may have had less energy with my youngest I made up for it with more patience. One of my sisters is 10 years older than me and she just started over by adopting her granddaughter who is now 2 years old. I think in some ways having children when you are older keeps you young.

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Yeah, I think you can't really make blanket judgments about these things.

My dad had four kids in his 20s and then two more in his late 40s/early 50s. The first time around (for my group) he was young and full of energy, but really had no idea what he was doing. The second time around (for my youngest brother & sister) he was older, so less physical, but still young at heart and definitely more thoughtful and more involved as a parent, because he knew what he was doing.

I don't think any of us lost out on anything, we just had different experiences of him as a father. We all love him!

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"elleon17" wrote:

I'm wondering if the article is only asking the question is it selfish to have your 1st child older? It makes no reference to someone who has other children and has another child older (hence the last time the levels of over 40 births was in 1967, when I am assuming that many of these births were to families that were larger)

The judgement seems to be on the fact that many women are establishing themselves before marriage and/or children and therefore postponing babies for a career or self exploration.

I think thats the spin this article took on the issue yes. People establishing their careers first. And really I think thats fine. There are some good things about that, both for the parent and for the kids.

I think the key is what other people have mentioned. Everyone's experiences are different. There are ups and downs to ones situation no matter when you start having kids.

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I agree with Kim that having your kids at a time that works for you and your family planning (I suppose being selfish) is the ideal. Honestly, I think that there are trade offs for any age that you have your kids. My parents had me when they were 19 - and sure, they probably had plenty of energy, but they were poor as church mice when I was a kid, and money aside, I can definitely understand that they were still pretty much kids themselves in some ways when I was growing up. I look at some of the parenting decisions they made now, as an adult, and I have to laugh. On the other hand, I had my first when I was 27 and I probably had less energy than when I was 19 and less money than I hopefully will have when I'm 40....if I had waited until I was 40 I would have the money but even less energy (maybe) and less time to spend with my grandkids (maybe) and so on. So....whatever. People should just do what makes sense for their own lives. I agree that having kids is both selfish and selfless anyway.

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Agreed that this makes no sense. Pros and cons to whatever age you have children. My parents were also young without hardly any money and they were good parents but had money stresses and didn't always have the patience that they do now with my kids.

While it took us awhile to get pregnant the first time, I'm happy where I was. I was almost 28 for E and almost 30 for C. We had a house and while we had some money issues at first for E (I was only working part time) we're fine now. It worked for us. I didn't want to be an older mother but I also didn't want to be a very young mother either.

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I had to laugh when I read this article and remembered this thread. Can you imagine at 42 years old surprise identical quadruplets? Smile Especially when it sounds like the weren't even trying to get pregnant.

Identical quadruplets surprise mom expecting triplets - CNN.com

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I had to laugh when I read this article and remembered this thread. Can you imagine at 42 years old surprise identical quadruplets? Smile Especially when it sounds like the weren't even trying to get pregnant.

Identical quadruplets surprise mom expecting triplets - CNN.com

I saw that. The chances of this happening naturally have got to be astronomic.

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My Dad's new wife is expecting his 3rd child in less than 3 weeks. He is 58 and yes, I think he is being completely selfish.

Whenever I see him, he always has something wrong with him. He has high BP, has done for a good few years and has been told by his doctor that his health isn't the best.

He wasn't the best parent to my older half brother (33) and when my parents marriage dissolved, he failed as a father/grandfather. I do not want this baby to feel how I felt when my Dad passes. They're already planning their second child together.

SELFISH.

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But that doesn't mean it's always selfish.

A friend we grew up with just had his first child a few days ago. He's absolute ecstatic about it and he is turning 50 this year. He just got married last year, it took him a while to meet the right person. He had other long term girlfriends but this is his first marriage, because he finally found the right one. I think it's lovely that they're starting a family, because he'll be a terrific dad, and that child will be loved. Yes, he'll have less time with his parents, but it will be a joyful time. They are thrilled to be parents, finally.

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"Minx_Kristi" wrote:

My Dad's new wife is expecting his 3rd child in less than 3 weeks. He is 58 and yes, I think he is being completely selfish.

Whenever I see him, he always has something wrong with him. He has high BP, has done for a good few years and has been told by his doctor that his health isn't the best.

He wasn't the best parent to my older half brother (33) and when my parents marriage dissolved, he failed as a father/grandfather. I do not want this baby to feel how I felt when my Dad passes. They're already planning their second child together.

SELFISH.

You might be right, he might still be a lazy uninvolved selfish slob. But, maybe having a new wife and now a new baby will make him start to reconsider some of his decisions and he'll start doing things to make him healthier. Maybe he'll be the old man running around with the kids that everyone thinks are his grandkids, coaching soccer & riding bikes in the park. That's the things about life changes like the birth of a new baby; they really *can* change your life! And in the years since you were born, maybe he's done some emotional growth that might make him a better father to this baby than he was to you.