By Ashley Pearson
Ashley Pearson is not a fan of Get Britain Fertile
Why are other women so uncomfortable with older mothers?
Reading about this new Get Britain Fertile campaign over breakfast really put me off my cornflakes.
The basis of the campaign is a new YouGov poll showing that 70 per cent of women over 55 are opposed and uncomfortable with the idea of women having babies at 40.
Beyond the obvious retort which would be, if I am not asking you to financially or emotionally support me, what difference does it make to you? There are quite a few other things that spring to mind.
Amongst the reasons cited for this overwhelming disdain by older British women was the increasing likelihood of health issues for mother and child, and fears that the mother’s declining energy levels leave her ill-equipped to cope with the demands of young children. To this I say, rubbish.
Another possible motivation I would argue, is far more sinister; pure and simple jealousy. After all, we are talking about a generation of women that for the most part gave up on their own aspirations and dreams to be chained to a stove and a man and the needs of a crying baby at the ripe old age of 21.
Therefore, why should modern women get to have full and rich lives, years of freedom, successful careers, our own money, and still get to revel in the delights of motherhood?
Our ability to enjoy both worlds highlights their limited choices.
To me, it smacks of pure and simple resentment.
Additionally I find the subtext of this new Get Britain Fertile campaign hugely condescending. Do you really think that with today’s media and a new study out by the NHS each week highlighting these issues, that women in their 30′s are unaware of their ticking biological clocks?
Believe me, any single woman who can read a newspaper knows that her time is limited. Sending her into further spasms of panic about finding the right partner with which to conceive isn’t helping anyone. Least of all her.
As a currently pregnant 40 year old, the idea that I waited around in order to intentionally be an older mum is beyond ridiculous.
Spokeswoman Zita West, a fertility expert who counts a number of celebrities among her former clients, including Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet, told the Mail that the campaign is being launched in response to a growing number of fertility issues that are being seen across the country.
Ashley says we do not need reminding as ‘any single woman who can read a newspaper knows her time is limited’
‘Britain delays motherhood longer than almost anywhere else globally and the average age of a first time mother has risen steadily over the past 20 years to thirty,’ she says.
‘The campaign’s aim is to educate couples on how to prepare for conception and take care of their bodies with up to date practical information.’
The key word there for me is couples. Um, excuse me, but if every responsible and lovely 35 year old I know was able to find an equally responsible, happy to commit and caring man – we would not be in this situation.
‘Much of this vilification seems to be coming from the NHS. Bear in mind, it’s more expensive to support an older mother and it undoubtedly would save the government money’
Let me ask this same generation of over 55 women who look upon us older mums with scorn – exactly what kind of sons did you raise? Are they men who happily took on the responsibilities of marriage, commitment and fatherhood to a woman of their same age in their 20′s? Or did they delay it themselves until they were 45 or so, and then seek out a girl 15 years their junior?
Maybe I’m biased. But I have heard the same refrain again and again from my single friends. Indeed, I can vividly recall being set up on a date at the age of 36 to a man my own age. He was perfectly respectable, but to be honest, nothing to write home about. However, after a lacklustre first date I was determined to go ahead with date umber two because I really wanted to give him a chance. Despite my lack of attraction, I didn’t want to rule anything out. To my surprise he emailed me after out date to tell me that he could no longer see me ‘because you are too old.’
We were the same age!
However, he mentioned in his very pointed missive that he was looking for a woman ‘no older than 30, because I want children.’
Years later I heard from a mutual friend he is still single – now 41 and bald, and undoubtedly still seeking a hot 25 year old. Good luck to him. Chances are he may yet find one.
Ashley asks what is so offensive about waiting until we could financially support a child, as well as making sure we had a supportive and appropriate partner
In addition to societal pressures, much of this vilification seems to be coming from the NHS. Bear in mind, it’s more expensive to support an older mother and it undoubtedly would save the government money if we all had our babies in our 20′s.
And who exactly is funding all these studies about the dangers of being an older mum?
This new studies declares that the UK delays motherhood longer than any other country in the world – with the number of women in their forties having babies increasing steadily in the last five years, rising by more than 15 per cent - the biggest rise in any age group, according to NHS statistics
A better question to ask, I would argue is just why is that?
‘There are those special women who are fortunate enough to find that the love of their life is not afraid of commitment and happy to settle down and have children with them in their 20′s and early 30′s’
Is it because we are brigade of selfish, career-obsessed women who are too fussy in our choice of partners and too focused on our own freedoms to adequately address our declining fertile years?
Indeed, I will admit that there may be a few of us like that. But I’d say it’s a very small percentage. There are also those special women who are fortunate enough to find that the love of their life is not afraid of commitment and happy to settle down and have children with them in their 20′s and early 30′s.
However, when will Britain get it into their head that the vast majority of older mums are not in this category by choice? We waited until we could financially support a child, as well as making sure we had a supportive and appropriate partner. Why is that so offensive?
To be honest, this decision seems far preferable to me than the path of a woman who has a baby simply because it’s easier than trying to figure out a career for herself, or gets pregnant to hold on to a boyfriend or husband who seems likely and ready to leave her. Both of which are far more common occurrences in my opinion than the selfish career girl who intentionally leaves motherhood off her list until it’s nearly too late.
For the women out there who read this latest study and were disheartened – let me say this. Don’t let the haters get you down. Live you life, Find love where you can, and Do what you have to do if motherhood is important to you. Don’t let anyone judge your choices, because simply put, they clearly haven’t walked a mile in your shoes.
As a first time mum-to-be over 35, Ashley Pearson writes about fertility issues, the ups and downs of pregnancy and ultimately the joys and stress of motherhood for the career girl who may have come a bit late to the party, but is happy to be here just the same.
Catch up with the latest installment of Ashley’s trials and tribulations next week.
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