I was 33, 35, and 38 years old when I had my daughters. That means two of my girls were born when I was of “advanced maternal age”, which begins at 35. Yep, at 35 your uterus is deemed to be decrepit and it is assumed children will emerge from your birth canal covered in cobwebs as well as vernix. However, a whole hell of a lot of us are waiting until we are ancient crones to have our babies, and the maternal age at first birth goes up every year.
The patriarchal culture is having a mental meltdown over this trend.
Mainly the problem the culture has with women being older when they reproduce is the fact that those chicks are out doing weird “manly” things, like getting an education and having a career, instead of having babies. Marriage and breeding are no longer considered the be all end all goals of women. More and more lady-folk are choosing not to ever bear young. Us vagina-having people are failing to stay in our “place” and do our “duty”. We have been nothing but trouble since we got the right to vote, and now we are so uppity that we want to our own fertility. What is the world coming to!
However, cultural messages are seldom so overt as to say what they really mean; they are usually framed in a seemingly benign context. In the case of them there elderly 35 year old mommies, it is couched as a warning that our withered old ovaries won’t be able to make eggs if we wait “too long” and if we do manage to get up the pole then the baby will come out “faulty”. Thus, we are only being shamed and harried into a culturally approved time of reproduction because the patriarchy really loves us and our offspring.
The big scare tactic when I was in my twenties was the the threat of down syndrome. Of course, when the news articles were trumpeting the fact that your risk of having a down syndrome baby “more than doubles by age 40”, they were careful to leave out actual numbers. “Doubles” and “triples” sound a lot better (i.e scarier) than “less than 1% chance before age 40”, then a “1% chance at 40”, and a “less than 5% chance at age 49”. Or they gave numbers that looked terrifying. For example, a less than 5% chance can also be written as “about a 1 in 20 chance” and that looks HUGE compared to the 1 in 400 chance of a down syndrome pregnancy at age 35.
Is any increased risk something a mother wants? No. But it can be exaggerated to control behavior, and that’s what culture messaging does. You are more likely to be murdered by your domestic partner than a stranger, but no one is threatening us with doom if we get married. Instead fake reports that it is easier to get murdered by a terrorist than get married after age 40 are spread around, making more women willing to take any port in a storm before hitting the big 40. Nor does the media frequently point out that the #1 cause of death in pregnant women is homicide, and that the younger the mother the GREATER the risk of being murdered.
Another way you can tell that the hysteria of “elderly” mothers has hidden meanings and motivations is the fact that the media needs to lie to get their point across. Articles will use pictures of older women with infants to buffer their assertion that little old ladies are becoming little old mommies, but it turns out that a lot of the pictures are of GRANDMOTHERS and a grandchild. If they’ve got to make stuff up, I have to ask myself why the truth isn’t convincing enough.
Moreover, chest-beating over crone-births obscures the real facts: America has a despairingly high rate infant morality – a greater risk than having a baby with genetic defects, BTW – and ranks 27th among industrialized nations in terms of keeping its babies alive. Infant morality is much higher in younger mothers, and three times more likely when the mom was too poor to get pre-natal care. Furthermore, woman in America are more likely to die as a result of maternity than all but one other industrialized nation on earth.
This high rate a infant/mother mortality is linked to poverty, of course. Babies in a poor state Mississippi are more likely to die before their first birthday than babies born in Costa Rica. But in America we don’t talk about the real effects of poverty. We talk about “bootstraps” and “personal responsibility”. The good old US of A has 614.7 deaths per 100,000 live births, and most of that is due to systemic poverty and a lack of general health care. But let us sweep that shit under the rug!
Yeah. The problem with maternity in America is clearly us gross gnarly granny moms.