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I think I’m a healthy distance from paranoia when I say that there exists—in a certain strata of public and media consciousness—a virtual kangaroo court that puts later life motherhood on trial, and mature moms on the stand.
Since CNN anchor Don Lemon’s with me, as founder of Flower Power Mom, and Dr. Wendy Walsh (http://www NULL.wendylwalsh NULL.com/) last Saturday, a few more waves of controversy have passed under the proverbial bridge of later life parenting.
Here are links to the CNN interview: CNN Mother’s Over 40 Broadcast–MP4 Version (22MB) (Right-Click “Save As”). CNN Mother’s Over 40 Broadcast–Flash Version (17MB)
Readers also reacted on the CNN producer’s blog (http://newsroom NULL.blogs NULL.cnn NULL.com/2010/05/23/kelly-prestons-later-life-pregnancy-how-old-is-too-old-to-be-expecting/), FPM’s Over-40 Moms and Supporters Networking Group (http://www NULL.facebook NULL.com/group NULL.php?gid=310289838109), and in email (editor null@null flowerpowermom NULL.com).
For one thing, I’m not the only one who tendered the notion that, when Dr. Wendy Walsh—a psychologist who admitted to having a child in her forties—positioned herself as a critic of later life motherhood, it was tantamount to hurling rocks at her own glass house.
However, my personal favorite was a certain “father of four,” who said: “The Flower Power movement of the 60’s of free sex had the inverse affect of enslaving women to sex rather than giving women a true understanding of their bodies. There is a book called The Bible. I suggest you read it.”
When I reminded him that biblical precedent for later life motherhood had been set by Sarah—wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac—who was also an over-40 mother (a subject I’ve blogged on before), his retort was that her conception had been “an act of god and not a freak of medicine”.
Question: So if you’re a believer, wouldn’t that make God the omniscient and divine spark of medical invention in fertility medicine? Hmmm.
It made me wonder if he’d been marinating himself in the sacramental verbiage of one too many revival meetings. He is, however, entitled to his opinion— and obviously thinks we are entitled to his opinion too.
Compellingly—given that we touched on the UK as a hotbed of over-40 mothers’ controversy—I received a link for feature entitled “Mothers Over 40 In Record Baby Boom (http://www NULL.dailymail NULL.co NULL.uk/news/article-1281301/Number-women-40-giving-birth-trebles-past-decades NULL.html)” in today’s UK Daily Mail.
It was forwarded by Jan Andersen, who is founder of Mothers Over 40 (http://www NULL.mothersover40 NULL.com/)—FPM’s ‘sister’ site in Britain—and a pioneer of the over-40 motherhood awareness movement.
In the story Elizabeth Adeney, currently Britain’s oldest mother at 67, was characterized as a “divorcee” who “employs a nanny to look after her [1 year old] son” and “looked tired and stressed from juggling motherhood and her career”.
It’s safe to say that the reporter (a man) proved his gender (as well as his bias) when he implied that her exhaustion might be due to her age. All mothers—of all ages—know only too well that chronic tiredness comes with the job.
So, here the defense will now call a few of its witnesses—women who had something to say, in support of later life mothers.
FPM Readers’ Comments:
“Great job Angel of moving beyond the negative sound bite to which the big cultural shift that later motherhood represents is all too often reduced.” Elizabeth Gregory, new mom at 39 (standard issue) and 48 (by adoption), Author of Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood www.domesticproduct.net (http://www NULL.domesticproduct NULL.net/)
“I saw and smiled a lot when viewing your CNN spot and reading your blog. My hope is the more we talk about this the less the stigma attached for women having babies after 40. When I hear the media and the general public making a big deal about pregnancy after 40 I literally roll my eyes.”
“Sadly death is part of life and it happens. But here’s a news flash – People day every day of all ages die regardless of age – we don’t set out having our children with the thought when we are going to die. We set out to have our children to love them and raise a family.” Marna Gatlin, Parents Via Egg Donation http://pved.org (http://pved NULL.org/)
“The written supportive comments from many of the CNN viewers were refreshing. Hopefully, soon the medical community will realize that not all women are supposed to give birth at the same ‘season’ in life.” Cynthia Wilson James, InSeason Mom, http://www.inseasonmom.org (http://www NULL.inseasonmom NULL.org/).
“It doesn’t make sense for people to focus so much on age. There are plenty of women out there at age 30 who have the bodies of 40-year-olds! Should we say they shouldn’t have babies? And why doesn’t anyone ever complain about over 40-men who have kids? Also, why did CNN use a psychologist for this story? They should have used an MD or a fertility specialist!” Lisa Cohn, www.realwriters.net (http://www NULL.realwriters NULL.net/)
“Fertility treatment is ageless and the age cut off debate seems also to be ageless! Whether a mother by natural measures or through fertility treatment needs to become more accepted just as we are told we are to all live longer!”
“Unless one has experienced being classified as infertile who has the right to condemn those that are more than able to be parents, and in many cases, more so than a younger couple who are for many different reasons not as able.” Nicole Klieff, http://www.babynexttime.co.uk (http://www NULL.babynexttime NULL.co NULL.uk/)
“As a mother of three whose last baby was born naturally at home in 2008 when I was 46 years of age, I think it’s important that we look at this subject from a perspective of awareness, than presumption. There are many factors that contribute to pregnancy, birthing and parenting that do not fall into a linear timeline or boxed definition – such as maternal health, conscious choice/conscious conception, aware parenting, biological and chronological age, lifestyle factors and technological advances, to name a few. Maha Al Musa http://www.bellydanceforbirth.com (http://www NULL.bellydanceforbirth NULL.com/)
“I think its time that we start having these discussions as women are more and more having children later in life and the average age at which women are having children is going up. There are a lot of these misperceptions and negative stereotypes that have to go!” Leah Block, Seattle 80’s Ladies With Babies, http://www.meetup.com/80s-ladies (http://www NULL.meetup NULL.com/80s-ladies)
Have a comment on this or any other blog at FPM? Email me: editor[at]flowerpowermom[dot]com.
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