Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Right, feeling fed up of social networking and generally bored up with the information overload, so I've decided to change this blog. Instead of updates regarding my daily bumbling about I thought I'd stay true to my Scottish heritage and make like a spurtle and stir...

******So now a disclaimer: what is written on this site is a reflection of me, my opinions and general aptitude or ineptitude regarding a whole manner of things. It is not my purpose to offend nor to pander to peer pressure or to agree with the consensus. If you disagree or have had the same thoughts or have anything to add, by all means comment away. If you've come on here to act like an arsehole then piss off. Seriously, don't...I can't be arsed. These are musing not life and death matters and take the posts and perhaps life with a pinch of salt.

I'll keep future posts short and then I might be able to do it in the five or so minutes I have spare a day and if what is produced resembles something like kajdfkjshdkfjdsjfksjdfkjsdbkjsb...then you know I've fallen asleep.

Since our move to the Big Smoke I've become acutely aware of the age of the other mothers I mix with and who have children of either B's age or A's. I don't consider myself that young to have had children and to have children the age that they are. Yes, I may have been a hell of a lot younger than the other mothers I mix with when I had A but then I was nearly the same age as my mother, who was married and had a house etc etc at the same stage in her life. Well...that's the justification for MY life choices out of the way and back to I suppose the first in a long line of questions on this blog; why are so many women waiting until they're eggs have nearly run out to have kids?

At the same time as my pondering, this fact appears to have also caught the attention of the press of late. You can follow the articles here: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article7144002.ece and here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/women_shealth/5016916/Older-mothers-late-bloomers.html and here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/30/parents-and-parenting-social-trends. These are by no means all the recent articles on the issue so have a Google for yourself. If you do Googlise this you'll even find forums for the older mother at http://www.mothers35plus.co.uk.

So in trying to understand this phenomenon (or is it?) I read the articles whilst enjoying my morning espresso.

*** five minutes are up TBC...


  1. You know that there is no quick answer to this right, unless you write for the Daily Mail (when it would be that we are selfish, career-obsessed harpies)...

  2. As Lucy Graig said, there's no quick answer, so I'll just say what the reasons are for me personally. I'm very very jealous of my independence, and the idea of becoming completely dependent on another human being scares the crap out of me. For me the 20s and early 30s are the years where you make some of the most crucial decisions of your life, and I would hate it if I had to make them while having to take into consideration other people. I know that your partner can also affect your decisions, but ultimately there is always the option of ending the relationship if you can't find a compromise.
    Another reason why I haven't had kids yet (BTW, I'm 29) is that I am only now at a stage, almost 4 years in, where I'd call my relationship stable. I was lucky that I met Juan when I was 25, but what with more women being mobile and so on, many of them don't meet their long-term partners until later on.

    I should say though that I'm more inclined to not having kids at all, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask!

  3. Just realised how up my own arse the 'taking into consideration other people' sounded! The point I was trying to make is that, having the chance, I'd rather sort out my life first and then have children. But I'm completely in owe of people who do both at the same time.

  4. "why are so many women waiting until their eggs have nearly run out to have kids?"

    Because they can, Fran, as simple as that. We live in a society that can afford to allow women to wait to have kids and have a normal sexual life and a career. In other times, the only way women could put pregnancy off -and there were occasions in which not having children was a social need- was by forgoing sex and staying at home with their parents or joining a nunnery. Nowadays you can choose when to do it without any need of becoming a spinster embittered by social and sexual frustration.

    The problem is that, as usual in Britain, the right-wing press frames the debate in the most puritanic rancid moralistic ways, and use any social phenomenon as a stick to castigate personal decisions of the little people of this beautiful island. If you have kids too young, they'll criticize you for being too young and inexperienced. If you're a bit older, for being selfish.

    The sad thing is that the liberal press -and the Guardian more than anyone- buy the whole package, because in that sense, puritanism is the Gramscian tool the British dominant classes have to maintain their cultural and ideological hegemony.


  5. Sorry for the jargon... a more British way of explaining my last paragraph would be: guilt trip, guilt trip, guilt trip...

  6. @JPL: Contraception has been around for a very long time now so I don't see the relevance of the second paragraph to the discussion. And while the right wing media do like to tell people that every decision they make in life is the wrong one (and will ultimately lead to cancer), the reception I'm more interested in and concerned about is in the lefty news who seem equally keen to tell us how to do things 'properly'. The articles of late seem to castigate anyone and I mean anyone under the age of 40 for having children at all. An older mother to use that term, ten years ago used to be someone over the age of 35 and now with medical advances on the rise and people having more disposable income that has now gone up to 45. Despite the medical advice regarding the optimal age to have children and not to induce complications or to use up the IVF resources of the NHS (who would be better giving it to people who have problems not because of age), the lefty opinion and consequently the middle classes of this fair isle advocate waiting even if you don't have a career that demands a huge amount of attention. Over coffee this morning I enquired about why the women I know waited. I had presumed that the vast majority of them had had some high powered career or even degrees that took up a lot of the time in their twenties, thirties and even forties in some cases. I surprised to find that a large number of this group worked in HR departments and didn't go to university.

    As an aside, I had a trial session at a Mother and Toddler group in the city just after we moved here and was shocked to find a woman sitting in the corner breastfeeding her child, her first child, covered in sweat. When I asked if she was okay and if she needed a glass of water she replied "Oh yes, I'm fine thanks...it's just the menopause"...

  7. Hi Fran,

    you're saying what I've said, "The articles of late seem to castigate anyone..."

    which is the way normal historical processes are very often discussed in this country. If a woman wants to wait, that's her shot. If she wants to have a kid when she's 19, that's her decision too. But that's not what the press wants, is it? Damned if you do, damned if you don't. In that sense, the rightwing press and the leftwing press are not that different over here, esp. the bloody Grauniad.

    The optimal age to have kids is not just biological, although biology plays a key part. Social and economic conditions play a huge role in determining the average age people decide to have kids (as you say, not all those women are City CEOs with MBAs and long careers. In Italy and Spain, for example, poor women tend to put off pregnancy longer, because housing prices makes leaving your parents' house very difficult). You can find people putting off marriage and limiting their breeding capabilities long before safe contraception was introduced... but the cost was a lot of social pressure, moral hypocrisy, frustration and misery.

    Safe contraception hasn't been around for very long, if we think historically, which is what matters here. It has changed society and morals massively in less than forty years. My parents were born in a world with no pill, so it's something new and very relevant to the discussion. All sorts of doomsday scenarios were predicted and the truth is that we live in a society were people live longer, healthier life, and where nobody who isn't mad thinks you're wicked because you've indulge yourself in a bit of sexual pleasure. Women have been the great beneficiaries of this transformation.

    How you allocate resources is another discussion (I'm not that sure that IVF treatments should be available as first option, but that's me and I haven't got a clear idea about it).

  8. As far as I'm aware the NHS won't fund your treatment if the mother is over a certain age or if either party already has a child. A lot of IVF treatment on the NHS is paid for by the patients - and it's not cheap. The difference between self-funded IVF on the NHS and private treatment is not too much. A lot of NHS patients are paying a fair price for their treatment. Of course these patients do add to the waiting lists. And, critically, time is something that a lot of fertility patients just don't have.

    Another thing I learned from an embryologist is that the vast majority of fertility problems are simply because of age or classed as unexplained infertility. Also the age that women start to worry about their fertility varies hugely. From their 20's onwards some people start to worry. For others it takes another 20 years.

    She also said that not that many people 40+ will conceive through IVF. She suggested that the media uses the few and implies the many.

    I think what you said, Fran, about "older" or "younger" being relative is a really good point. If your circle contains a lot of parents in their 20's and you reach your 30's without a child then you might feel older, even though a mother in her 40's might not feel that way if her peer group all had children at the same time.

    As to my choices. Well, working with IVF patients has made me think I'd rather start sooner than later. But then I was already inclined that way. My mother was pregnant at my age, one of my close school friends has three babies already and a ton of my school friends got married last year and the cynic in me expects the year of the weddings to be followed by the year of the babies. I guess my background means I was always likely to want to get pregnant in my late 20's. And if you've ever seen me with a baby then you won't be surprised to hear that!

    But it's not just me who makes that decision of course. And Doug has a different social group to mine. His friends are getting engaged and planning weddings right now, not babies. He's also the youngest child of three and has parents who were a bit older than mine when they started a family. Not that this is a pressing issue between us, I'm just talking about it in this blog's context. Don't expect any announcements anytime soon!

    Wow, that went on a bit more than expected!



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