Women are bearing children older – age 35 is the new normal

I think if my mom had it her way, I would have graduated from college at age 22 (done), gotten married between ages 24-26 (that was never going to happen), then have at least one kid by age 30 (yeah, right!). She always said that you should have one child before age 30; if you want a second kid, then it’s okay to wait until a little after 30 if you need to. Having children after 35 was a definite no-no in her book. But when I got married at age 30, she changed her tune: have kids ASAP — it’s okay. You could hear the desperation in her voice for grandchildren as soon as possible.

When we couldn’t get pregnant after trying for a while, she predictably blamed me, even after I told her that all my tests came back normal. It’s almost as though she couldn’t imagine it wasn’t her daughter’s “fault.” The truth is that my mom and a lot of other mothers in her generation don’t seem to understand is that having kids… is not necessarily easy (as in conception) to do, nor are the costs that we’re looking at similar to what they faced when they were in their child-bearing years. So it’s no wonder that when I went to see my OB-GYN yesterday, she told me that the averages they are seeing at her practice is that women in New York City are having their first kid at age 35 (hey, that includes me!). Childcare is too expensive; not everyone has the luxury of nearby grandparents who are not only able and willing to help, but actually able-bodied… and able-minded.

Once upon a time, the medical industry would label any pregnancy of a woman age 35 or above as a “geriatric pregnancy” (frankly, I’m sure that in many parts of this country and world, they are still labeled the same way). I poked fun at this and told her that I heard the cutoff for this derogatory label had increased to 40+, and I asked her if this was really true. She sheepishly admitted that yes, the label has changed to 40+, but insisted that they do not use that term in their practice. She has said that for women who want to bear children that her own recommended cutoff had changed with the times: finish having children by age 45, latest, she advises.

I told my friend this, who had his child at age 44 when his wife was 40. He responded, “Just because it is physically possible to be healthy definitely does not mean it’s easy!”

Well, if you want what you want and get it…

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