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May 29, 2007

Pushing Sixty in a Twinset

By Sarah

Yeah! It's unofficially summer which with Global Warming could mean anything from tropical Fireworkds conditions on Labor Day to snow on your Fourth of July fireworks. Still, there are some basic rules to follow concerning what to do and what not to do for summer fun.

WHAT TO DO:

Go swimming in a nearby lake with your family. Try canoing, kayaking, maybe even water skiing.

Hike a mountain.

Catch fireflies.

Plant a garden. Raise giant pumpkins. Enter them in the county fair.

Roast vegetables and pick blueberries. Learn how to whistle with grass leaves and make dandelion chains.

WHAT NOT TO DO:

HAVE TWINS WHEN YOU'RE SIXTY!!!Frieda

Hello, am I the only one who thinks the story of the New Jersey psychologist who gave birth to twins at age sixty is entirely nuts? Okay, I might have understood if she hadn't had any other children. I think I might - and I say might - have understood if all her life she had tried and tried or maybe she'd been single and at age 58 or so found the man of her dreams but NO! She already had three children ages 33, 29 and, gulp, 6.

I mean, that's pretty impressive right there considering Frieda Birnbaum got pregnant at 53. Yes, that redefines middle age for me. (Frieda's contention is that 60 is the new 40 so let's redefine what's old.) End of story. Done. You win, Frieda. But getting knocked up at 59? Talk about over the head with a frying pan.

Look. I have nothing against redefining middle age. Do you know that Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore show was supposed to be 48? THAT'S what I thought middle age was - round gutted and balding - before I hit my 40s and discovered people my age at the gym more in shape and active than when I was 25. There's really no doubt in my mind that culturally and socially and, let's hope, physically, the old saws about retiring at 65 and being a grandmother at 50 are so passe. This is a new era, baby, and I don't plan to spend my twilight years in a walker.

Z4 Still....I'm not sure bringing innocent children into your mid-life crisis is the ultimate proof of renewed youth. Frieda - buy a red BMW Z4. That should take care of your mid-life crisis. And if it's babies you want, well consider grandchildren. Twice the fun and half the responsibility. Plus, it won't matter if you're 78 on prom night and in bed before the twins even pick up their corsages.

I believe it was in the wonderful Fay Weldon's THE LIFE AND LOVES OF A SHE DEVIL where the radical protagonist developed the idea that no child should be brought into the world without committee approval. Like a co-op. Granted, anyone who's been on a committee can see the fallacy of this suggestion. (A committee productive? Please.) But in light of women birthing babies at age 60, I'm beginning to see the appeal.

Kiddie birthday parties at 65. All-night barf fests (which I happen to be going through tonight with our eleven-year-old) at 71. Teen angst at 74. Teaching your twins to drive when you're 76.

Ahhhhhh!!!

On CNN Frieda encouraged women suffering empty cradle syndrome (which, yes, I might be going through) to pass on buying a puppy and consider in vitro fertilization instead. Frieda also made note that her sacrifice could even the playing field for women who've long been irked by the ability of men to father children - with societal permission, if not smirking - well into their eighties.

Sure. I get that. And, to some extent, I agree. It is nice that women have the option to postpone motherhood until they are financially secure and settled in their careers, like men. But I don't know too many fathers over fifty who are willing to stay up all night pasting doilies to their kids Valentines.

Me? I'm going for the puppy.Basset_hound_puppie

Happy summer everyone!

Sarah

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Comments

I'm sorry, but isn't this what grandchildren are for??? You get to have them in your life and take them out to do neat stuff, but then give them back when you want a nap. I always figured this is why my mother has been pushing me to give her grandkids. I could be very wrong.

Go for the puppy as, once they get out of the chewing phase, they are quite nice!

Score one for Sarah! I hit grandmotherhood while in my 30's. Now, no kids in the house, see the grandkids a couple times a year, and get the baby fix when some people bring theirs into my store. If you want children at 60, go work in a daycare center or volunteer at your local hospital nursery.

OK, I'm sorry.

I'm in my mid-40s and there is NO WAY I could do the whole infant/sleep deprivation thing again. I would love another baby, but geez, I'd like to eat chocolate cake three times a day too. Wait, I've done that. Forget the metaphor.

And, uh, does this mean this woman is going to go through menopause again now? It wouldn't surprise me, because it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Paying for college in your eighties. Does Social Security cover that? Because I get the shakes just thinking about it.

Maybe it's a good thing she has another child to take care of. Because, seriously, what desperate idiot would seek psychological counsel from this dingaling?

Great blog, Sarah, but I'm conflicted about this one.

One of my best friends just had her first child at 42 and she's beside herself with happiness. In the past, that would've been considered outrageously old for a first-time mom. At least half of my women friends had some sort of fertility help along the way, mainly because they waited until past age 30 to have kids, and they're all better, more devoted parents than their parents who had kids in their 20s. So where's the line? Esp. since, yes, octogenarian men get to have babies and I hate double standards.

Would I do it again myself? I'm pretty sure I would, yet we just had the class bunny rabbit visiting for the weekend and I found that stressful!

Hi.
I'm up from being up every 2 hours thanks to the stomach virus that hit Sam so bear with me please if I don't make sense.
Michele, I'm all for bearing children in your 40s. My mother was over 40 when I was born, so I'm biased. And, yes, there's no reason why women should have to rush to bring children into the world in their 20s and 30s. I did, but it cost me careerwise. (Which, in the final analysis, was a good thing.)
But there's a big difference between having kids in your 40s and having kids in your 60s. A twenty year difference and a significant type of difference at that.
Also, Frieda already has three children.
Frankly, what I don't get is the 6 year old for whom she supposedly had the twins. (BTW - that is so screwed up for two reasons. A) I don't think we bring other children into the world to be playmates. There's no guarantee they'll get along and b) a 6-year age difference is huge. By the time those twins will be in elementary school, the 6-year-old will be going off to high school)
But I digress.
It's not as though Frieda remarried and is starting a second family. All children are by the same husband.
No - there's something else at work here. As a sleep-deprived mother, I'm too confused to know what.

I don't think I expressed myself too well above, Sarah. I'm saying the 20 year difference between what you find acceptable (moms in their 40s) and what you don't (moms in their 60s) is the same 20 year difference that used to exist between what used to be acceptable (moms in their 20s) and what wasn't (moms in their 40s).

You've helped me figure out where I stand on this. I'm for technological progress, longer lives and doing what makes you happy as a human being (as long as you're responsible and can provide for your kids, including life insurance.)

Great blog!!

Not your fault, mine, Michele. Like I said - I was up every 2 hours. Not quite understanding...

I certainly hope Frieda has live-in help. (And I bet she does!)

If this woman was trying to demonstrate women's freedom...and she got pregnant at 59...and she had twins...and the twins are boys...

I had twin boys at age 31. All I can say to/about Freida is this: Sweetie, that was not a good plan. Freedom is just a memory for you now.

I don't have a problem with people having children after they've reached 40 or so. My concern is for the kids having a shortened time with their parents.

Is it fair for children, when they're 25 or 30, to possibly see their mother and father in assisted living facilities?

I know I wish I'd had more time with my parents and they both passed away when I was in my 40s.

It's like a lot of things; it's ALL a roll of the dice. Both of my parents were gone before I turned 40.

Life is short. Everyone has their own "line" to draw. What works for you may not work for me. As long as everyone is healthy, happy, and as Michele pointed out, can be cared for, to each their own!

As I was driving to work this morning (listening to Beausoleil to kick-start my internal engine), I thought "I know I'm sixty but I feel 35!" Today anyway. But no way would I attempt motherhood, should it still be possible. When I first saw the article, I thought she'd done it to help out an infertile offspring.Then I read it again.
OK, I know life expectancy is up, but geez. Believe me, I don't miss the PMS one bit, and the thought of heading into the octogenerian days with a college-age kid is downright scary. Of course, should anything happen to Freida, her kids are old enough to act at surrogate parents. A new take on family planning I guess.

I'm feeling a rant coming on re. IVF, medical/insurance costs, premature births, etc., so I'll just say one word = ADOPTION!

I think the woman is nuts. There is no way a 60 year old has the energy to run after one toddler, let alone two. At least with grandkids, you can send them home when you get tired.

And I agree, it's not fair to the kids. They'll lose their parents way too soon. It's not a good experience to be parentless at a young age.

I understand to each his or her own. And there's no guarantee how long a parent will live - but there are statistics. My mother died when I was 37. It would have been nice to have had her around longer like my brothers - 10 and 8 years older than I am - did.

Then again, my pop's still around. I swear, nothing can kill that old man.

So, there's that.

I am just as conflicted, being 44 and childless, I've done the math and figured out that if my offspring goes to college, I should be retired. Then again, I am Generation X and retirement is closer to 70 and no longer 65.

Then I look at my World War II Generation parents, who had me in their early 40s. They have had a productive and happy retirement with me living 10 minutes away.

It is true that we are aging better than our ancestors, so I have not abandoned all hope of having future Cinema Daves.

I have a very good friend who had her last child at age 42. I ADORE her daughter, BUT I get exhausted just being around her (she's 10 now). My friend is always tired, has no time for herself. In fact, I worry about her.

I used to do genetic counseling for women who were 35 or older for increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities. 35 was (is) considered "advanced maternal age". I can only remember one woman over the age of 50 and before her appointment, she decided she was too old for this (i.e. pregnancy) and as far as I know, she terminated the pregnancy.

Maybe I'm just a selfish old hag, but I like my freedom. The idea of taking on diapers, midnight feedings, future soccer games, dating, etc etc etc is SCARY.

And I loved Nancy's comment...Using your Social Security to pay for college! BRAWAHAHAHA By the time I get SS, it'll buy a gallon of gas!

Great blog, Sarah

Well, yikes!
Okay, my mom had me, the last of 8, when she was 40 (my father was Catholic, my mom was fertile) and I was an orphan by the time I was 40 and I had my first baby at 43, and now I'm 50 and tomorrow my twins turn 5.
Am I happy? Very much. Tired? Usually. But I chalk that up to writing books while doing preschool carpool, not to being an Older Mom, which in any case is not even unusual in Southern California (I admit to being a freak when I'm in the midwest).
I do, however, constantly do the math ("when the twins are graduating, I'll be . . . how old?") but I have the advantage of having had a beautiful, totally cool mom who was by far the oldest in the 'hood. It never bothered me. I hope it never bothers my kids. I hope I live a long time. I hope I keep writing a long time to pay for their college.

p.s. would I do it all again in 10 years?
No f---ing way.

I'm quoting from a news story:

Alana Birnbaum, 29, told the New York Daily News that she was against her parents' decision to have another child so late in life.

“She's youthful for her age but I don't think it's good,” Alana Birnbaum told the tabloid. “She should be going to the gym and taking time for herself — not taking on more stresses and responsibilities ... Am I happy at all about this? No. I'm not,” she said."

This is the only daughter in the family. Unless society changes drastically over the next decade, chances are she'll be the person responsible for raising these babies if anything happens to the mother. I think her position is very clear.

Think of this young woman's future--she may have to take care of her elderly parents AND her elderly parents' young children. At the same time.

Am I in favor of freedom and empowerment for women? Of course. But this seems to me to be an utterly selfish act.

Ramona:
Thanks for bringing up Alana. It doesn't take much to read between the lines and see what her very rational concern is.

BTW - Going to the gym, having long liesurely lunches with friends, traveling to Italy, learning how to oil paint, becoming a certified Master Gardener, spending an entire day reading without interruption. My GOD DOES THAT SOUND GREAT!!!!!!!

Harley - You briefly crossed my mind when I wrote this. Then I did the math and realized you and Frieda aren't even in the same ballpark. In fact, YOU are a reasonable, rational, hopeful role model for tons of women who worry about their biological clocks.

ArkansasCyndi - This 50 year old woman terminated her baby because she decided she was too old? Was this baby planned? And, if so, WTF?

She's 60 now, so she'll be 65 when the parent-teacher conferences at school start. Will she have to sit in one of the student-sized chairs?

Just thinking about not getting an unbroken night's sleep for months makes me tired. I'm 58 and I get cranky without my 7 1/2 to 8 hrs of sleep nightly.

There ia lot of things that men do that I have no desire to emulate. Dating women young enough to be their daughters or granddaughters. If a man is young enough to be my son, I do not want to date him. Likewise having children in your 70s and 80s like Tony Randall and Anthony Quinn is not what I consider desirable.

I gave birth at ages 29, 32, 35, and 41. It was way easier in my thirties than in my 40s. I did not bounce back from the pregnancy as quickly. I was much more tired. Maybe Frieda will be an outstanding mother. While I always say parenting is not for the faint of heart, it takes more than heart, it takes time and energy.

SarahS - The 50y/o who terminated...first, it wasn't planned. Second, she wasn't married. and last, it was 20 years ago. Plus, I think she may have been 50+ (maybe 54?).

Poor woman. What an awful situation to be in.

After 4 miscarriages and 2 problem pregnancies, I thanked God for a hysterectomy at 24!
Having babies at 60? This woman is not thinking straight. She could drop dead tomorrow or get Alzheimer's in 5 years, where's that leave the kids?

Great blog, great comments, as usual. I wonder which is more responsible -- to have a planned pregnancy at 60 (and let's be generous and assume she has the financial wherewithal to support the kids through college, and has planned ahead for when she can't take care of them herself), or to go ahead with an unplanned pregnancy at 20-something with very limited financial resources, only the vaguest notions about how to care for and raise a child, and little more than optimism that life will unfold along more-or-less normal lines (school, job, increasing financial security, etc.)?

Yeah, I was feeling pretty judgmental about this woman until I started thinking about myself . . .now I'm not so sure.

Oh, darnit, Kerry. You had to go and add some class, didn't you.

You got a darn good point, girl.

Ah, Sarah, thanks for thinking of me. You know what? 15 years (having twins at 45 vs. 60) does, I think, make a difference. But who am I to judge?

The woman's daughter, though? SHE gets to judge. Very good point that she's possibly left holding the bag on this funfest.

And where's the dad in all this? Did he issue his own press statement?

As a woman who lost her third son from an always fatal genetic disease, each child we would have had~had a 25% of having the disease; we chose not to take that chance anymore. Adoption is not easy. We don't have money for foreign adoption and McHub isn't up for adopting a special needs/drug-addicted child. Part of me still weeps over the fact I cannot have more babies. I'm 45 and I'm moving on and living my life but if someone was to hand me an infant, I'd go for it with all my heart. I'd love any baby. You'd think I'd have worked through this by now yet I will always grieve for my never to be children.

On the other hand, a piece of my sanity has been saved by not having more teens in my future....

Thanks, Sarah. It just goes to show you how cool this blog is, because I hadn't thought of that point until I started to comment . . .

(And just for the record, I totally think that using IVF to have kids to keep your 6-year-old company is sketchy at best!)

There has been a considerable thread about the Birnbaum twins on the A Little Pregnant blog, which has been very interesting, but coming from another angle entirely. Y'all might want to check it out. www.alittlepregnant.com

Incidentally the daughter Alana has a more complicated reason to be unhappy than simply maybe(probably!)having to raise two or three kids: they are almost undoubtedly only half-siblings. A woman of Frida's age must have had egg donation for the twins, and probably for the 6 year old. And if Daddy isn't as fertile as he once was, then perhaps Alana's younger siblings aren't blood relatives at all.

Antigonos, thanks for the heads up on the A Little Pregnant blog. I just went over there and read some of the 160+ comments. Some were very insightful and thought-provoking, but being me (meaning, immature and shallow) the two that stuck with me were:

"...Mom, Dad, and the twins will all be wearing diapers at the same time..."

and

"What in the f--king f--k?"

Yikes! I couldn't handle twins now, in my mid-30s. For goodness sake, my Nana was 62 when she became a GREAT-Grandmother. This lady needs psychiatric treatment, and the state better pay attention to how those kids are raised. Like most people, I feel bad for the older children who will no doubt get stuck bearing the brunt of raising these kids.

Hey, Janice NW - I took care of those extra comments. I don't know why it does that sometimes. It's happened to me, plenty, so don't be embarrassed.

Your story - an always FATAL genetic disease - is so distressing. I'm very sorry you've had to deal with that. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks sarahS. It changed my life but we have two healthy teen boys and good and bad events have happened because my Brennan died. Stuff happens and now I'm back in school to become a nurse after 17 years as a soccer/baseball/PTA/slightly brain dead stay-at-home mom.

Golly, ya know I don't miss those PTA meetings at all! LOL.

I think it's selfish of the 60 something parents to have children so late in life. I'm in my mid 50's and I know that it takes a lot of energy to keep up with kids. I have grandchildren and I also have a daycare. Once in a while grandchildren spend the night and then I have to recoup for a couple of days. My point is maybe they have no trouble keeping up right now but how long can that last? Kids like to do things like trips to the beach, theme parks etc. Then those wonderful teen years when you are out at midnight trying to find your kid who was supposed to be staying all night with a friend but isn't. And then the bottom line that is just reality...how long are these older parents going to be around? The 6 year old and twins would probably like to have grandparents for THEIR children someday but what's the likelihood of that? Not to mention the fact that they'd like to be able to have their parents around to at least see them off to college.
I just think it's really really selfish.

Just read in Elaine's favorite paper (not) that 60 yr old Mama will be going back to work in a month, she has 2 live-in nannies for the kids. So how much parenting will she do anyway?

I'll be 43 in August, and my husband is 51. In the beginning of the year, I got pregnant, unplanned. My husband and I had decided a while ago not to have more kids (he has 2 in their 20s and I have one who's a senior in HS). We were shocked, and then got used to the idea and were very happy and anticipatory.

It didn't work out. I lost the baby at 12 weeks. We were devastated. I know now that there's about a 30% chance of miscarriage at my age.

Since we had become used to the idea, we talked about trying again. I made the decision not to, because of many of the reasons above. I didn't want my child to lose parents early. I decided I'd rather not go through the sleepless nights and diapers etc. anymore. My daughter is going to college in the Fall and I wanted to enjoy our empty next and have time for each other. And more.

Sometimes I still think it would be nice. And it probably would. If I had never had kids, I would try again in a minute. Not to say everyone should agree with my decisions, but I don't think I could possibly entertain the idea at 60, and I have to say, I kind of feel for the kids.

2 live-in nannies....call the psychologist!

Okay, to close this out, I'd like to offer my late mother's phrase: "Women are happy when they're pregnant and happy when they're not." (Actually, considering her German background, I think she put it in the negative - "Women are unhappy when they're pregnant and unhappy when they're not." - But since I'm on a positive kick, I'm going with the former.)

Thanks, everyone, for some really insightful posts!

BTW - Laura, I am so sorry. You were very brave to come to the decision you did. What a great marriage you must have. Thank you so much for letting us know.

If I at 44 found out I were pregnant, I'd be overjoyed. We have more money and security than when I had Anna and Sam. Plus, I think I'd know how to enjoy a baby now - rather than be scared. That little life to love from infancy is almost too much to resist.

Still, that's not going to happen. Charlie and I made a decision for all sorts of reasons to stop at two. But, like my mother in law says, my arms ache always for a baby.

There's no helping us women, is there.......

I gave birth at 26, 27, 31, 33, and 38. I also had 2 miscarriages. I love my kids, but the thought of getting pregnant in my 50's is not a pleasant one. I am looking forward to not being able to get pregnant. I'm only 39 and begging God for Menopause.

WOMEN WHO WAIT TO BEAR CHILDREN IN THEIR LATE THIRTIES (NOT TO MENTION THE ABSURDITY OF HAVING CHILDREN IN THEIR 60'S) ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE.
WOMEN WERE MEANT TO BEAR CHILDREN IN THEIR TWENTIES AND EARLY THIRTIES ... CHILDREN BORN TO OLDER MOTHERS HAVE MANY MORE HEALTH ISSUES.

about frida birnbaum ...
what a shallow women are in this blogg!...yes, it's very stressfull and "inconvenient" to raise kids, but to offer trading life for a car! give me a breack...only in this materialistic and hedonistic culture, barbie babys, of course you can not have the "respons-ability" of taking care of nothing, only your navel and shallow brain... I'm ashamed of women like you, no empathy or compassion for the other, not wonder or respect for life, only your "comfort zone" barbie baby, it look that this "empire" is going down to the gutter with this type of "fe-male" prototype...shame on you, and Frida, you belong to the brave, imaginative, generous tribe that don't belong to this culture...I only have respect and admiration for people like you....

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