I don’t know what to think of Saturday morning’s feature on older mothers in the Ottawa Citizen. What I found in equal parts troubling and interesting was to see the feature in the Life section, alongside maternity fashion and the comics. One article reported on “midlife mom” and blogger Angel La Liberté whose website heralds midlife pregnancies as so many fashion statements. You too can have children after 40… look at Céline!! As thrilled as Céline must be with her newborn twin boys, I’m not sure she considers years of fertility struggles and failed IVF attempts, briefly carrying triplets and losing one before finally giving birth prematurely to the remaining two babies on par with choosing the best maternity fashion to fit her midlife curves (not that Céline is particularly well-endowed in that department, which may or may not explain a lot). I don’t know Céline but I’m guessing.
I have no doubt that the particular challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing after 40 make La Liberté’s blog timely and relevant, still I was struck by the “us against them” tone of the gig. Happy as I am to no longer qualify as a SMUT — well-toned Stepford Moms Under Thirty-five — being neither well-toned or under 35; I did not buy it. Truth is, having children late in life is not so much a choice as the culmination of previous choices not to have children before. Women have children in their late-thirties or early forties for many reasons: some married late, others were unable to conceive right away, other wanted to get a head-start on their careers, sometimes all of the above. Their choice not to have children at any given time morphed into a choice to have their children late.
Nobody argues that delaying motherhood is not the healthiest option for mother and baby. And I have yet to meet women who delayed childbearing because it was a bad health choice. We shouldn’t transform midlife childbearing into a lifestyle choice but wonder why women are not having their children earlier in life. As someone who had two children in her early 20s, I do not recommend it. When my young friends get married and start having children at 21 (usually in the reversed order), I cringe. As a society, it is much easier to look at pictures of Céline, Kelly Preston and Mariah Carey and attribute it to lifestyle than to wonder where we took a wrong turn.by