Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Unconventional ways of building a family - part 2

Here's the second part of the guest post - from the mother' s point of view.

"When my daughter approached me in my 55th year of life and excitedly informed me of a procedure which would possibly enable me to carry another child after so many years of trying and finally giving up, I admit I was somewhat sceptical. So I started researching the subject with great zeal and one of the first things I saw was the opinion of one man expressed in these words: “Old women should stop having babies. What would Jesus think?” He gave no valid arguments as to why he felt this way only putting the onus on Christ so as a Christian I gave that some thought. It didn’t take long for me to rule out his argument since there are prime examples in the Bible (both in the New and Old Testament) that indicates God is not opposed to older mothers.

Firstly, there was Sarah who conceived and bore a child when she was ninety years of age (Gen 17:17) and post-menopausal (Gen18: 11). Secondly, in Luke 1 we are told that Elisabeth conceived after being childless and “well bstricken in years”(Luke 1:7) which I have been taught was possibly around sixty years of age.

Without these righteous women, who probably endured much ridicule from those who were close minded and unenlightened, Abraham would never have had Isaac from whom the twelve tribes of Israel were descended and Elisabeth would not have given birth to John the Baptist who performed the necessary ordinance of baptism for Jesus.

However, besides the biblical confirmation there were definitely other issues that I needed to consider concerning older mothers before making a decision about pregnancy at my age. There were two articles which I found extremely helpful.

The first of which is an article by Juliet Tizzard, Director, Progress Educational Trust, entitled What's wrong with postmenopausal motherhood? which appeared in BioNews092, 29 January 2001 addressing three of these issues. “The first is that it's not good for the resultant child. There are the trivial drawbacks such as having parents who are less energetic and more embarrassing. But there is also the serious issue of having parents who are likely to die before the child has a chance to provide them with grandchildren.”(Tizzard, 2001) (http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_37560.asp)

The second article was one by Dr Anna Smajdor, Lecturer in Ethics at the University of East Anglia,entitled Time to put a stop to postmenopausal mothers? ,BioNews 543,01 February 2010 which addressed the issues of nature, ethics, and social expectations. She presented good arguments for postmenopausal mothers on the basis of nature and ethics in relation to other things we deem acceptable. “Yet postmenopausal motherhood continues to generate extreme reactions. The problem seems to be the final item in my list: social acceptance. We are not used to the idea of reproduction in older women, and it makes us squirm. With the passing of time, this may change. In the meantime, we need to decide whether our dislike of squirming is a reasonable basis for establishing a maximum age for fertility treatment.”(Smajdor,2010)( http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_54017.asp)

I feel extremely blessed to be presently raising an active three-year-old born through surrogacy and am enjoying every minute of it! Though my energy level has decreased somewhat with age I am in good health and no longer have the stresses of trying to balance work and family as I had when my oldest daughter was born twenty four years ago. As a result, my youngest gets much more of my energy and therefore she actually benefits in that regard.

Also, I am now much better prepared to be a mother due to experience, time available for individual attention and financial stability. Though I have every reason (based on long extended family history of mortality) to expect to see my youngest reach adulthood or even to hold her child(ren), I have, however, made preparations should I die prematurely. My eldest daughter is willing and able to continue with providing not only the necessities of life but the time and love that will allow my youngest child(ren) to look back at a stable and happy childhood. I am so thankful to the Lord for the advances in scientific knowledge, for open-minded doctors and the support of my family that enables my husband and I to receive such a wonderful blessing."

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