How old is too old?

‘My neighbour just had her first baby at 49’ my mate said last week.  My jaw hit the floor; initially I thought she must be insane and can’t imagine how exhausting that would be.  I was a slightly older mum and was classified as geriatric by the NHS being nearly 36.  A friend of mine has three children; her first was when she was in her mid 30s and the last was when she was 41.  She said it was a lot more tiring with the last one, I don’t know if it was age or if it was the fact of having three.  I’m reluctant to have another one facing 40 this year.

I would never want to deny anyone from experiencing the joy and pain of having children but I can’t help thinking there are limits.  Advances in science allow us to push the boundaries but is it still a good idea?  Please note, I also think they keep people alive a lot longer than they should these days and I do apologize if this offends anyone

I can’t help thinking of Carole Hobson, the single ex-barrister, who gave birth to twins using donor eggs and sperm from India when she was 58 years of age.  She herself said ‘Be careful what you wish for. . . you might just get it.’  Technically most women would be well into menopause at her age.  Is it irresponsible to bring children into the world when there is a good chance you won’t be able to care for them??  Who is going to be left to care for them and in this case, they have no biological bond to anyone in the UK. Her own parents are elderly, her brother thinks she’s crazy and her long-term partner left when she set about the mission of becoming a mother.

There is a good chance she will live to 81, the average life expectancy of women in the UK, which means she will have 23 years with her children but with what quality.  We have just gone through a difficult time with my hubby, who was born when his mother was 43; we lost them both within 18 hours of each other last summer.  Sadly, they were in their mid 80s when our daughter was born; they never really got to enjoy her fully, they were too scared to hold her, nor in a state to care for her and she will have no memories of them.

The fact that menopause sets in must be nature’s way of telling us it’s time to throw in the towel????

I can’t help feeling it’s selfish and irresponsible???  How old is too old?  Thoughts….





Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

21 thoughts on “How old is too old?”

  1. I completely agree that there is definitely a time in a womans life where becoming a mother at a later age raises more issues and concern. It’s not fair on the children to grow up looking after their parents as they become elderly and sick.
    Same/similar issue was raised when my brother’s wife wanted children. She has a degenerative disease that will kill her by the latest at 45! She is in her 30’s and slowly starting the downhill process of the disease but wanted children (the disease is also hereditary) Is it fair to have a child who will slowly watch his/her mother die? or pass on the horrible disease just so she can experience motherhood for a few years but giving her child a death sentence at the same time?
    I think the overwhelming feeling for a woman to be a mother causes some women to be selfish. It’s not them who has to pick up the pieces when they are gone

  2. I put the limit on 50. Because that’s the new 40. And I’m almost to the new 30. And planning on getting another one soon. The irony for us is that we waited until we were successful and stable and by that time had fertility issues. But it also meant we could afford help to fill in when my age shows. :-)

    1. It really is a tough one isn’t it. I think a lot of people will be facing this as more and more of us are waiting longer and longer to have children. I wish you all the best with this.

  3. My mum had me when she was 41, and she’s been awesome. However, when I was 12, she had her first heart attack. She’s been unwell since, and it’s hard sometimes not having the same sort of hands-on help that my friends’ mums can give.
    It’s all very well saying that they’ve got a healthy body etc, but things do go wrong.
    If Hobson passes away sooner rather than later, who’ll look after her children? What about all the comments those teenagers will get from their peers when their mum is more like a granny? I can’t help but think that she’s been awfully selfish with having babies so late. Maybe that’s just me!

  4. As someone facing an early menopause (best estimate well before I’m 40) I’m not sure the menopause is a great predictor of when women should stop having children

    The life expectancy point is valid but doesn’t deal with the risks to all of us in daily life, we could get knocked down crossing the street tomorrow but surely its better to have given a rich and full family life in that time than not at all?

  5. Hubs and I have this same conversation – I have just turned 31 but he will be 40 this year. He doesn’t look it and doesn’t act and is generally very youthful. I’m not sure I want children yet but for me, personally, I do project his age into the future and think it would be strange to have a 15 year old child when he would be 60 for example (if we waited another few years). But then I also think whatever is meant to be in life will be. Thankfully as we’ve now been married 4 years people stop asking when we’ll have kids and we may just have a blissful life with dogs and cats instead :)

    1. My only advice…don’t hang about…we all spend far too much time waiting for the perfect moment. I have friends who are trying…she is 36 and he is 50 and young at heart. I do think they have a lot to offer a child.

      I once remember a friend of my mums saying that the biggest thing she ever regretted was not having kids. She was telling me about her aunt who was on her deathbed and said exactly this. I know it’s not for everyone and I’m not purporting it. I was never going/planning to have kids and I’m so grateful of our little surprise!

      ‘I do not regret the things I’ve done, but those I did not do.’ quote unknown

  6. My husband is 40 and his Dad is 83. He said the other kids at school always thought it was his Grandad picking him up, his Dad rarely played outdoor games like football or went for a bike ride. I think you should be very careful having children later in life, mainly for the childs sake though not your own.

    I was 33 when I had the kid, I am young enough to play with him and am likely to live long enough to see him have kids. I can’t imagine knowing I would have a child and not live to see their children! Each to their own though.


    1. There are plenty of 20 and 30 something Dads that never play football or ride bikes with their children. Generally we are a much fitter generation and are in most cases just as physically capable to do all these things in our 50s as we are in our 30s.

      1. As I mentioned in the post my husband’s parents were in their mid 40s when they had him. He has very fond memories of them and loved them dearly, but their age did add complications.

  7. Well… due to various reasons such as multiple miscarriages and timings etc I’m now having my second child at 39. Yes I wish I were younger, but I’m generally OK with the fact that I’ll be in my 60s when the child is in their 20s.

    That said I don’t think that IVF should be offered to women over 50, the average age for menopause is 51. I think generally by your late 30s/early 40s you know that time is running out so you then still have a few years to get pregnant. IVF treatment for women in their 60s is plain irresponsible, women’s bodies are not meant to carry children at that age.

  8. In many ways I agree, but I wonder why we’re not having this same discussion about Dads. Short of the physical act of carrying the baby – and perhaps nursing it – fathers should be considered equally. My husband is older, I doubt that if we were both his age we’d be the best parents as I certainly have more energythan him – but he has a higher salary and more life experience , which do count for something in the parenting world. Certainly if I had made it to his age without children and didn’t have a younger partner or plenty of family support, the decision to have children would have been harder.
    If we start setting arbitrary rules for max age at IVF, etc, we ignore the fact that individual differences matter. And that good parents are parents who treat their children with love, respect, and wisdom, regardless of their life expectancy. As with life itself, it’s the quality, not the quantity, that counts.

  9. What an emotive subject, I have 3 children, the youngest was born when I was 41, I found each pregnancy harder than the last but I also found that I was a lot more laid back with each baby so I cared less about housework and spent time with the little one instead. I’m hoping to be around to see all of my grandchildren but who knows, I could get killed in a car accident tomorrow.
    If you can’t realistically expect to be around until your children are in their 30’s then I would say that you are too old, I think that kids need their parents until then.
    I can see definite benefits to having children earlier or later, it’s all down to individual circumstances.
    Difficult decision for you but would you not like madam to have a little brother/sister to help decide which nursing home would be best for you when the time comes? ;-)

    1. There are definitely, pluses to both sides. Personally, I wasn’t mature enough in my 20s to take care of a child let alone myself! :-) I would love to have a sibling for Madame but unfortunately, we haven’t been blessed. We have set a limit, if it doesn’t happen by the end of this year then we throw in the towel!

  10. As a Dad (nearly 43) I set my limit at 40, had first at 33, second at 37 and last at 40 (1 month before I became 41!) I sometimes wish I had started earlier, but never wish to be older, I am less stressed and more mature, have done stuff I probably won’t get to do again so don’t feel I have missed out on pre-parenthood, however, as I have got older and body/health has deteriorated I feel I may not be the Dad my girls deserve! I changed my job to have kids and they have changed my life! However, everyone is different, my Mum was 21 and Dad 23 when they had me, divorced by the time I was four and in hindsight not mature enough, however, these people who have kids in their 50’s 60’s statistically will die before their kids are ready to leave home – scary thought!

  11. I’m 53 and still having perfectly regular periods to possibly could become pregnant, but I would never ever want a baby at this age! I’ve just got my life back from my 3.. But then if I’d not had any kids and had just met someone it might be tempting, but then I’d worry about things going wrong.. So no, no babies in 50’s by any means..

  12. Hi Mediocre Mum. I too am an ‘older’ mum, having had my son at 40. It frightens me that I will miss some good stuff in their lives, and saddens me that their grandparent input is much depleted. However, I am able to give them so much that I couldn’t have when I was younger (and I know the opposite is also true, before I get slated by younger parents!). I think every situation is personal. A friend of a friend died recently of breast cancer at the age of 50, leaving a 9-year-old, and that has made me think harder about what I have with my kids, and making sure they feel loved. Nothing is predictable, and making whatever time you have memorable for good reasons seems like the most important thing.
    PS – Good to meet you at Blog Camp today

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