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You’re selfish to have a baby at your age!

June 21, 2013
logo by Christine Hepner

Although no one has said this to me directly, I know that some people think older women (and it seems  specifically aimed at mothers and not men who become fathers later in life) are selfish to get pregnant after a certain age, that age as determined by the speaker of the sentence. So, are we selfish to have wanted a family at our age? Will our son suffer because his parents are old enough to be his grandparents?

I don’t know. D and I are late bloomers, I think. It took me longer than usual to figure it out, career-wise and relationship-wise. I think of my BFF in college. She looked across the dining hall the first night of school and set eyes of her future husband. She was 17. They are still together and expecting their first granddaughter this fall. Some people figure it out early. Not me.

The advantage of being single for as long as I was is that I have friends who are as close as family. I have at least 5 girlfriends who are more like sisters to me. We may be far away from each other these days, and yet, I know I can pick up the phone and call any one of them and say, “I’ll be on your doorstep tomorrow and I may have to stay forever,” and every one of them would say, “Why wait until tomorrow?”. And this is not to say that married people don’t have amazing friendships, but now that I’m a mom I see just how hard it is to nurture those friendships.

I also do not have one single oat left to sow. They’ve all been sowed, reaped, harvested, (is that the same thing? See, I told you I suck at gardening.), and made into oatmeal cookies. I’ll give you a very specific example of just how young at heart (some might say totally immature) I was well into my 30s and beyond. I had been out late the night before, a work night of course, with my BFF Bernadette. Truth be told, we stayed out very late almost every work night. I mean, why not? I had no responsibilities at home. Why go home early and make dinner for one when I could go out and have fun. Anyway, I slept in and had to rush to get ready for work. I showered and did my hair and make-up, but I realized I didn’t have clean clothes, because when you stay out every night, the laundry fairy forgets to come and do your laundry. So, I grabbed the pants I’d worn the day before off the floor and the last clean sweater out of the closet, because I’m not totally gross. I had to practically run to the subway and when I got there, I almost tripped as I was walking on the platform. I looked down and noticed something by my feet which turned out to be the tights I wore the day before. They were stuck inside the leg of my pants, and I hadn’t noticed when I put the pants on. I was mortified and I had to find a pole on the platform to try to hide behind so that I could pull the tights out of the leg of pants instead of dragging them along with me all the way to work. I had one of those moments then where I realized that I had to get myself together–this was no way for a grown woman to live. And I’m proud to say, about 10 years later, I did get it together.

Would I recommend waiting until 50 to get pregnant? I guess I have to say, it all depends on the 50-year-old in question. D and I both realize that we are going to have to do everything within our power to stay healthy enough to keep up with the little guy. We do try to eat right and keep active. D is much more successful than I at keeping fit, running and biking whenever he has a spare moment. But let’s face it, it’s all a crap shoot, right? Some vegans die at 40; some people eat triple-bacon cheeseburgers on a glazed doughnut every day and live to 100. You just don’t know.

This week I had to take F to the doctor for an “emergency” visit; I thought he might have another ear infection. The weather was iffy with thunderstorms and heavy downpours expected, so I called a car service to pick us up for our appointment instead of walking the 24 blocks or waiting for the bus. The car driver didn’t seem thrilled when he saw me approaching the car with the little guy and a stroller, but he jumped out and helped me get the stroller in the trunk. The little guy was a little groggy because I had had to wake him up from a short nap to get to the doctor’s office on time. I was trying to keep him occupied and happy, so I was chit-chatting with him all the way to the doctors–nothing special that I remember, just stuff like, “Do you see the big buildings? Wow, look at the bus! Can you spell bus?” That sort of stuff. 

When we arrived at the doctor’s, our cab driver got out to help me with the stroller again. Then he said, “You are a great mother. It’s great listening to you talk to your son.” I was shocked and touched at the same time. He made my day, and then it turned out that the little guy didn’t have an ear infection after all, so hooray…

I know I’m a very different person than I was 20 years ago and a much better mother than I would have been in my 30s. Am I terrified that I won’t be around for the little guy as he grows. Of course I am. But isn’t every parent of any age? All I can do is try to be the best possible parent I can for him today, and then hopefully, repeat each day for the next 40 years….that’s all any of us can do.

  1. Sarah permalink

    Was hoping to email u had babes at 45 and 49 : we were in manhatten for baby 1 and bounced adjustment for me has been tough !’ thank u for your blog i just discovered


  2. Valerie permalink

    “All I can do is try to be the best possible parent I can for him today, and then hopefully, repeat each day for the next 40 years….that’s all any of us can do.” – Absolutely right! ❤ Makes me think of a friend's post, comparing parental age: It's such a personal thing!


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  4. Christine Hepner permalink

    Speaking from someone who is older and childless. I’ve ALWAYS wanted a child but circumstances didn’t allow for it. Not everyone who doesn’t have a child is by choice. Mine certainly wasn’t. If I had the means and although now have the relationship I would def become a mother. It’s not selfish as far as I’m concerned. What I think is selfish are people how have children just for the sake of it and then push them on to nanny’s and such wanting little to do with them or wanting kids so they could fulfill the parents unforfulled dreams. That is Selfish.


  5. Sounds like you are an amazing mother 🙂


  6. Jon permalink

    A very close friend of mine upon learning my wife was pregnant said, “I think you’ll be a good father. I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago.”

    And he was right.


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