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Number of 'older' women having babies continues to grow

Published: Saturday, July 28 2012 12:16 a.m. MDT

Jocelyn Nager joked that by the time she looks at colleges for her daughters, Pearl, 5, and Sarah, 8, she'll get the AARP discount. Nager, a lawyer from New York City, got married late and didn't think she'd be able to have children. It was not, it turned out, a problem for her.

Pushing 40 with the first birth, she was established in her career and now enjoys the flexibility to set some of her own hours, with financial stability enough to send the girls to a nice school and summer camp. "There are a lot of extras I could not provide for my kids if I was in my 20s or 30s," Nager said. She still rides bikes with her girls and is very active.

"I think I'm not a typical 48-year-old," she told the Deseret News. "But really, what is typical these days?"

Different challenges

Amy Wasserman, a Palham, Mass., artist who sells her work through Amycreates.com, always knew she'd want to have a baby. After she married Scott Plotkin at age 38, she learned she couldn't become pregnant. They eventually became foster parents and when she was 44, in 2003, they adopted their 2-year-old foster child, Lily.

As a mom, she said, what she lacks in stamina she makes up for in patience and wisdom.

She is sorry she could not experience pregnancy herself. But she has no regrets about having a child in her 40s instead of her 20s. Wasserman is confident she recognizes her daughter's long-term needs — including how important it is to be inspired by successful, hard-working women, she said — more than she would have when she was younger.

Paula Pant is 28, but plans to wait until her mid-30s to have children, unfazed by statements like "older parents won't have the energy to play with their children," or "they'll never live to see their kids grow up."

Pant, who was raised in Cincinnati and lives now in Atlanta, was adopted when her folks were 43. "They played with me and kept up; 40 is not that old." The quirk that came with her parents' age, she said, was that much of her childhood she saw them plan their retirements. Pant doesn't think it's a coincidence she now writes a financial-issues blog, "Afford-Anything.com," with lots to say about retirement.

The biggest drawback to older parents was that generational differences were "amplified." Some things she wanted to do that were common with her peers were very foreign to her parents, two generations removed. Still, she will wait, too, she said, "half for economic reasons, but half because I want the freedom to travel the world, to move on a whim, to do the fun things you can do when you don't have the responsibility."

She won't push it, though, she said. She doesn't want increased risk of genetic or physical complications that come after 35, however small that chance.

Jennifer Archer is 40, married just shy of 15 years, and contemplating whether to have children. Her baby right now is her Shiba inu dog, Koho, on whom she dotes. Real babies are a great deal more daunting, she said.

Her own parents had her when they were 20, which they told her is too young. They encouraged their own children to get an education, to work and travel and grow up first. Now, after years of doing what they want without children, she and her husband, Tyler, wonder what kind of parents they would be and if they're ready for that. "I think we're at a stage where we've agreed to give it a good go and see what happens," said Archer, who work for KSL in Salt Lake City. "But it scares me a little, too."

Experts and experience

On her 40th birthday, Angel LaLiberte, the sound of her biological clock pounding in her ears, gave up on finding Mr. Right. She remembers being in a "dark place, deeply depressed," as she realized she'd likely not marry or have children.

The Santa Cruz, Calif., woman was packing up those dreams and moving on when he walked into her life and her heart two weeks later. The problem was, Bill Cozzens had been told that he couldn't have children. At a fertility clinic, he had been handed a shiny brochure, its cover sporting a cup-half-full photo of an old couple, no kids but a burgeoning retirement account and a still-good life.

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