Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Twins at 67

Sophia told me about this Spanish woman, 67, who just gave birth to twins.  The woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization.  The previous oldest mother was Romanian writer Adriana Iliescu, who gave birth at the age of 66 in 2005. 

I took a glance at some blogs and was surprised to find so many writers, including mommybloggers, talking about the “ethics” of this woman for having babies so late in life.  Some are actually quite cruel to this woman.

Funny, but I didn’t hear anyone make a big deal about —

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Donald Trump, father at 60

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Bob Eubanks, father at 66

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The late Tony Randall, father at 78

— and that’s not including Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, and my 60ish dentist who just married a girl younger than his daughter…

44 Comments

  1. Dead or not, I’d have Tony Randall’s baby.

  2. Well…if you had asked me if Tony Randall should have become a father at 78 I would have said “hell no!”, but no one asked. And Paul McCartney, had he kicked the bucket when baby Millie started Kindergarten, would have left behind a young mother who would have cared for the child in his absence. Before the divorce…that is. I think it’s incredibly selfish to bring kids into this world when you’re old enough to be their grandparents.

    And this woman who gave birth at 67 did so with SOMEONE ELSE’S EGGS, because I guarantee that 67-year old eggs are not viable anymore unless you’re interested in producing a three-headed mutant with oatmeal for brains.

    Maybe the outrage over the women being elderly mothers stems from the fact that women usually end up being the ones who have to care and sacrifice for the children whom it takes TWO PEOPLE to bring into a world. I guarantee that a 67 year old woman isn’t capable of doing what a younger mother is capable of.

    It’s gross and selfish…again, GROSS.

  3. Sigh. Because, Neil, women are hardest on OTHER WOMEN. It’s a fact of life and you’re being disingenuous. You know it. Wordgirl is right about older daddies not being the primary caregivers and not having the babies with older women, so that was a moot point. Irrelevant, even. Besides, you already know what we women think about those older men and their trophy women, but it’s not nearly as vituperative as what we think of said trophy women, now is it?

    But you know that, too.

  4. Don’t you love types like Wordgirl who thinks she playing God.

    Just supposing those “above” are in charge of us mere mortals and want,for whatever reason, a child born of an elderly parent(s). Perhaps that child will become something very special. Who are we to judge?

  5. Thanks, Wordgirl and Nance.  I don’t think you are playing God at all, just being passionate.  I also think it is a little odd to have children so late in life, but I also think a lot of things are weird that I just accept if people want to do it.  I’m just thinking that what is good enough for men in the 60’s and 70’s should be good enough for women.

    Isn’t the father’s role in child-rearing just as important? So is the issue being that Tony Randall can have a child in his seventies, knowing he will only be alive for his child a few years, but feel OK with it because his wife will be there after he passes, while the older woman is just being selfish?  I assume this Spanish woman is single, but would it change things if she had a 35 year old husband?

  6. well, as long as we’re gossiping…
    my guess was that tony randall was gay and got married to a young gal & had a baby just so he’d produce an heir before he died.

    donald trump will divorce wife #3(?)just before the 5 year mark and someday his kids will fight over his money.

    eubanks? don’t know if he’s gay, into young trophy wives or just likes being a dad. how’s that for celebrity rumor mongering?

    me being a gal who was raised by older parents, i sure am sad they’re both dead now. my grief for them hits me at odd moments..seeing duct tape reminds me of my dad…washing the dishes after thanksgiving always makes me miss my mom as that’s when we had good 1:1 time. ahh, now i’m all misty eyed thinking of duct tape and dish soap.

    am i glad they had me? yes. do i wish they were still around? yes. were they in their 60s when i was born? nope.

    who’s going to raise those kidlets when the 67 year old lady needs to go to the old folks’ home? Well, at least they might be able to get a group discount on diapers for the whole family.

    or are the 60’s the new 30’s?. i can’t keep up with society and how screwy it keeps getting.

  7. re: childrearing. i’ve heard moms are more important to a child the first five years in life. after 5, the dad plays a bigger role to teach boys how to be a good man, to role model a good husband for both daughters and sons, and to teach us how to change the oil in our cars, scare the daughter’s boyfriends into good behavior, and do wonderful dad things, like camping and fishing and help with our tennis volley.

  8. I have to agree with Wordgirl and Nance. It is just plain selfish for a 67 year old women to go to such extreme measures to have a child at her age. Whether she has a husband or partner isn’t the issue. She knows full well that she might not see those children into adulthood and although the same could be said of any of us (who knows what is around the next corner)…there is no good reason to purposely put your children through that possibility before they are even born.

    By the way, I know a bit of which I speak…I went through IVF to have my children but I was in my 30s…not my 60s!

  9. The thing that annoys me more is when it’s like she broke some record. Unless she’s out bumping nasties and gets preggers naturally, I don’t think this should count for “oldest mother.”

    And…ew.

  10. Lisa, I agree with you that it seems selfish. But if the issue is purely that the mother won’t be around to see the child into adulthood, isn’t it the same issue with these older fathers? No one says a man having children at 70 is selfish. He is actually applauded as being virile. Am I the only one around here that thinks a father matters? Or are they just sperm donors?

  11. Neil,

    Plenty think a man having a child at 70 is selfish. It just may not get the same kind of attention in the media.

    I faced this in my own family with my father trying to have a child with his much younger wife because she’d yet to have any kids. I figured it wasn’t for me to judge, but I was hardly comfortable with the idea of having a sibling 40 years younger than I (and ten years younger than my son!)

    Ultimately, it didn’t happen and while I feel for my dad’s wife, I somehow felt relieved.

    As far as fathers mattering, many of us are used to seeing fathers choose to distance themselves from childrearing involvement. (go ahead and poll kids of divorce or single moms…)

  12. I think part of it too is that women who have had children at an age younger than 67 know how it saps you physically, emotionally and mentally. And not just during the pregnancy but also the first 5 or so years that are the most intense.

  13. Then I guess women who have physical ailments or are poor are selfish for having children as well.

  14. I’m not married but been dating a man for 2 1/2 years who’s son is only 4 years younger than me.

  15. Don’t tell me what to do with my uterus and I won’t tell you what to do with yours!
    My Mother had people offer to pay to have her steriize because they thought she was having too many babies. Luckily she did what she wanted and had 12. As child #10, I’m glad she declined their offer.

  16. Hell, I’m carrying Donald Trump’s baby now, and I’m 55. Watch for us on The View.

  17. Neil- Of course the father matters and you are right that no one bats an eye at a man who has a child in his 70s or when he has a wife that is more than half his age…but they certainly do if a woman marries a younger man. There’s a double standard no matter how you slice it.
    In infertility treatment, there is a standard of ethics (in this country…I can’t spaek for others) that dictates what procedures and how many transferred embryos can/should be transferred as dictated partially by the age and health of the mother as well as the survival rate of the babies. The doctor who agreed to do IVF on a 67 year old woman should have his or her license revoked and be held responsible for any health factors that arise in those children.
    Was it her uterus to do with as she wanted? Yes, but she didn’t do it on her own. She had a team of experts helping her along.

  18. That’s a really good point, Neil. I honestly think that people can’t bear the idea of a woman past menopause doing something that involves her vagina. It’s an unfair double standard. Though I must say it’s also wee bit unfair to the child to have a kid if your chances of dying before they’re 21 are pretty good.

  19. My dad was 50 when he had me (my mom 37). Growing up I loved that it set me apart – I could always (and still do) get a rise out of my dad’s age. He was always in good shape and my childhood wasn’t any different than any of my friends. But as we both got older – his age started to be more significant. Now, being 26 and dealing with my parents being retired for a number of years and on a fixed income, I’m in a very different place than most of my friends. And the constant worry that this could be my last year with my 77 year old Dad (while co-workers twice my age still have both parents living) or that he might not be around for my wedding (which remains in the distant future given there’s not even a man in my life!) is kind of terrifying. Make no mistakes – I’m glad my parents had me but the realities of growing up with older parents are something people should definitely think about when considering getting pregnant later in life.

  20. Neil, FATHERS MATTER. You are not alone in your thoughts. Let’s face it, people can die at any age, my father died at 41 leaving behind two kids. But we have to go with the odds. And the odds say that a person in their 60 or 70’s ain’t gonna make it to the kid’s high school graduation. I think it’s selfish on both the part of men and women. But you are right…it’s highly revered in our society when men do it.

  21. I seriously don’t understand why someone’s age for having kids is anyone’s business. Having a family is a very personal decision, and I’m sure most of the people you mentioned probably wouldn’t be happy if someone judged their personal decisions concerning their families. I guess the standards are different for men and women because people seem to abstract men from childbearing somehow. In any case, I personally find that although for various reasons it’s preferable to have children earlier in life and simply easier on the parents, there’s nothing unethical about having them so late.

  22. Non-Highlighted Heather

    January 5, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    In a perfect world healthy babies would be born to healthy mothers and fathers who would live to see their grandchildren graduate high school. However, this world isn’t perfect and we all have our babies at different stages of our lives. I had my first child at 20 and my last at 30, 4 all together. I can genuinely say I’m glad I had my children young. Nursing babies and chasing toddlers is tough enough when you’re in your early twenties, I can’t imagine doing it now in my late thirties. Of course it seems strange for women and men to have their children so late in life and I can certainly see why they would be deemed selfish. However, I also recognize the extra effort that goes into having a child when you’re older, medically and otherwise. And I think inherent in that extra effort is a desire. It can’t be a bad thing for a child to be so wanted. It can’t be a bad thing for a child to be so strived for. It almost guarantees that child will be cherished and loved. It’s not a perfect scenario, no. But there are plenty of young slacker parents out there whose legacy to their children will be low self esteem and a handicapped sense of self worth. If an older woman wants a child so badly that she’d go through so much to have one, it sounds to me like that’s a child that will be loved.

  23. True that. True that.

  24. Irina and Heather, here, here!

  25. I don’t understand how women would want to have children at such old age. They aren’t even theirs genetically since they have to borrow the eggs from somebody else. It’s like making an adoption, but a very painful one. The Romanian must be crazy.

  26. Larry King can be added to that list of elderly new dads. Personally, I think it’s just weird if anyone (male or female) has a kid over the age of 50.

    Although I have to say that my dad was born when his dad (my grandfather) was in his 50s. However, it wasn’t exactly a planned pregnancy like some of the examples stated above.

  27. I agree that it’s none of our business what people choose to do with their bodies, but I think what was getting people up in arms about the 67-year-old woman was not so much that she decided to raise a baby at such an age but that she gave BIRTH to it and had to take years of intense drugs to stave off menopause. She can do whatever she wants, but let’s face it, it’s a bit of a freak show and FAR different from the cases of the men who are simply dropping their aging sperm wherever they can. My wife and I are trying to have a baby (she’s 40 and I’m 47) and there are plenty of people who think we’re being selfish because we won’t be around as long as parents who have kids in their 20s but I just don’t buy that argument. As someone said, parents can die at any age. But going through pregnancy and childbirth at 67? Oy.

  28. I can’t wait to see Rick on The View

  29. Good point. Sperm gets old just like eggs. The risks for birth defect goes slightly up on both sides but still obviously works.

    Why not just cheer with anyone’s joy of becoming a parent instead, regardless of age.

  30. Absolutely fair point you make, Neil! My mother gets so annoyed about how society is fine with all these old men fathering kids but then is harsh on women. She is a huge fan of saying “Old sperm is worse than old eggs!”

  31. All right, I’ll bite: how is a 67 year old woman having kids any of my business? As long as she’s not asking me for money or twisting my arm off looking for help then I say let her have as many damn kids as she wants. As for men the same age having kids, the more power to them. Having kids at that age is probably a smart idea; that way you get to enjoy your kids when they are the most adorable and by the time they hit adolescence and become pains in the ass you’re dead and you dont have to deal with them anymore.

  32. On a personal note, there’s another reason why I prefer not to judge people (men or women) for the age at which they chose to have children somewhat inappropriate. When my father was born, my grandfather was fifty. When my aunt was born he was fifty two. His first wife and children were murdered by the Nazis, and he married a much younger woman so he could have children. He passed away when my father was in his early twenties and my aunt even younger, and I never got to see him. Was it selfish of him to want to have children so much at that late age as to risk them losing him before they grew up? Perhaps, but knowing what I know, I couldn’t possibly call it selfishness. Other people often have individual circumstances which do not allow them to have children until much later – natural infertility, inability to meet a life partner, and yes, personal choice. I think the best thing for children is when they are wanted, no matter what the age.

  33. The whole idea makes me nervous, because, well, I’m too tired at 42 to deal with my kids half the time. I can’t imagine how I’d feel with a newborn at my Mom’s age!

  34. Wow… I believe there is inherent fear in the continued power of women to bear children. Long have women, once beyond childbearing years, been labelled “witches” or “cronies.” In the 1600’s it was believed that “hysteria” was caused by the fact that the uterus would wander around a woman’s body if not anchored in place by pregnancy or nursing.

    Now that science has changed this, some fundamental rule of nature is being challenged. These older men who have children do so without major intervention from science. Men produce sperm until they die. Women are fertile neither when they are very young nor when they are very old.

    While I applaud any advance in science which will allow an older person to do things she might otherwise not do, I do understand society’s fear of it. The bearing of children is such a loaded moral and spiritual topic. Not surprising this woman is under scrutiny.

    I wish her and her children health and success.

    Namaste.
    ~HDJ

  35. Your dentist must be effin’ rich.

    Also, and I could be wrong about this, but I think the age of the mother is more important in determining how healthy the pregnancy and the child — the older the mother, the more chances for birth defects?

  36. Dear Jeremy Jacobs,

    I’m not playing God…nature does that for us by halting the baby-making mechanisms in our bodies, drying up our eggs and making conception the type of event requiring a “village” of specialists and high-risk pregnancy doctors.

    Fathers are, of course, incredibly important. Equally important, I’d say, in providing emotional stability, self-esteem as well as an example of how a man is supposed to act in this world and in a family unit. I don’t think that women SHOULD always have to be the caregivers…in fact…I wonder why more men don’t show up for that gig more often, but any fool who has eyes can see that tradition has often demanded that women stay home and there doesn’t seem to be a tremendously long line of guys waiting to quit their jobs and take over the childcare responsibilities.

    Why do you think the adoption agencies are now cutting off the age of prospective adoptive parents at age 50? Not merely because a 16-year old kid learning how to drive might give his 80-year old father a stroke during a driving lesson…but also because there’s no guarantee that the 16-year old will still have a father if they’re old when the kid is born.

    And now that advanced paternal age is being linked to an increase in the number of autistic children being born…well old guys need to just keep it in their pants.

  37. Wordgirl,
    this “nature does that for us” argument is such a bunch of hooey. Nature also gives people cancer, and polio, and heart disease, but I hope you have nothing against interfering with nature which “does that for us” in this case.

    Things change, the world keeps evolving, we need to learn to grow with it and adjust our perceptions and tolerance of things new.

  38. Wow. Can I just for a moment clarify my position and remind commenters that all I simply said was: 1. the mommybloggers and other female bloggers were probably pissed because women tend to be harsh on other women, and 2. I agreed with Wordgirl’s comment that women, regardless of the fact that we are in a new millennium, still do much of the childrearing; hence, the older men who father children with younger women probably aren’t taking an active role in the bulk of said childrearing.
    I did NOT comment one way or another on the righteousness of the 67-year old new mother. Geeze. I don’t want in on ANYONE’S UTERUS.

  39. Well the dads don’t actually have to go through a heck of a lot physically do they? So as long as they can financially support the kid they can be extremely old and still be acceptable fathers. But mothers have to go through the pregnancy, childbirth, 24 x 7 breastfeeds and everything else. So the older she is, the less able she’s expected to be.

  40. Geez. I just realised that Nance already said all that…

  41. Sperm gets old just like eggs

    That is why I am going to pay for plastic surgery for my boys. No reason to let the young good looking ones get all the eggs.

  42. Rach2,

    Menopause isn’t “hooey”. It happens whether one wants it to or not and it DOES stop the baby-making machinery from working. To compare menopause with cancer is just ludicrous and uninformed. That’s not to say that we can’t interfere with nature. It does, after all, make mistakes.

    As for accepting or being tolerant of “new” things, I must insist that “just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD”. Without trying to legislate the female uterus, I think you’d agree that there is such a thing as being too young to have children, no? Wouldn’t you agree that a 14-year old has no business raising a child? And the reason would be that they’re too young/immature to hand the enormous responsibility of parenthood. Conversely, there is such a thing as being too old. Parenthood is physically/intellectually and emotionally taxing and a senior citizen doesn’t need to begin the task of raising a child…especially given the fact that–statistically–they won’t live to finish the job. Unless you have children yourself, you probably don’t really understand why most people believe the way I do.

  43. 2nd pearl past the post I agree with you- sperm don’t do well at all with age.

    Over 35 there is a statistically significant risk of schizophrenia in offspring that is higher than 1.

    The link between older age of fatherhood and an increased risk of schizophrenia was detected in 1958. Dr. Philip Gorwood

    Up to 1/3 of all schizophrenia is due to advancing paternal age. Dolores Malaspina,M.D.

    Some epidemiologists in the UK say:

    “Growing evidence shows that the offspring of older fathers have reduced fertility and an increased risk of birth defects, some cancers, and schizophrenia. Adverse health outcomes should be weighed up against advantages for children born to older parents, mindful that these societal advantages are likely to change over time”

    In the US Dolores Malaspina M.D. says,
    There have been no failures to replicate the paternal age effect, nor its approximate magnitude, in any adequately powered study. The data support the hypothesis that paternal age increases schizophrenia risk through a de novo genetic mechanism. The remarkable uniformity of the results across different cultures lends further coherence to the conclusion that this robust relationship is likely to reflect an innate human biological phenomenon that progresses over aging in the male germ line, which is independent of regional environmental, infectious, or other routes. Compared with the offspring of fathers aged 20-24 years, in well-controlled analyses, each decade of paternal age multiplied the risk for schizophrenia by 1.4 (95 percent confidence interval: 1.2-1.7), so that the relative risk (RR) for offspring of fathers aged 45+ was 3.0 (1.6-5.5), with 1/46 of these offspring developing schizophrenia. There were no comparable maternal age effects” (Malaspina et al., 2001). Dr. Michael Craig Miller of the Harvard Mental Health Letter wrote about a study on older fathers which found that a subset of autism is related to advancing paternal age

    “Until recently, health care professionals have focused almost exclusively on the mother’s age as a risk factor for health problems in the child. But we now know that the father’s age also adds to the risk of potentially devastating diseases. And there is no practical way to detect these illnesses during pregnancy. For those weighing the risks, the decision can be wrenching. Adoption and in some instances a sperm donation may be acceptable alternatives to older fathers wanting to build a healthy family”
    So I would say that older fathers can have a tremendously negative effect on offspring who are unable to report on it because the effect is so devastating.

    From my research there are quite a number of chronic “mysterious genetic” health conditions which increase in offspring of older fathers.

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