Photographer: Alicia ClarkeSubsequently the average age to have children, particularly among middle class working women, rose to mid thirties, and more recently first time mothers in their forties seem to be pretty much the norm. And now the postmenopausal mother has made a bold appearance. A pregnancy after fifty is a bit more complicated and it needs IVF, but it is possible and several women have fulfilled their desire for motherhood by becoming pregnant in their fifties. A friend of mine recently emailed to say that she was going to have a baby. I was puzzled because she is actually fifty-four. She revealed she had received IVF in India. Married for the second time at fifty-two, they both wanted a baby and this was the way. She had had a child in her twenties, from a previous partner. Her new husband had never had children before and was fifty-one. I thought she was brave and clearly very much in love for wanting to go ahead with a pregnancy at an age when women are technically grandmothers.
Photographer: Alex IngramMany people do think that having babies in your fifties is absolutely crazy. I used to think that too, simply because I remember how physically exhausting it is to have young children. It is not about the pregnancy as such, that is the least worry. Bringing up a child is quite a commitment, can older parents really cope? My mother was thirty-seven and my father was fifty-one when I was born. In all honesty I dont think my father really wanted any more children, he had had far too many already, but my mother really wanted a child with him and the rest is history, as they say. However, my father could not keep up with me as I was growing up, it is a fact. I used to think it was because of his age till someone pointed out that my siblings, born when he was much younger also had had problems with him while growing up. So it was not a matter of age but of temperament and disposition. This made me rethink my whole attitude about midlife parenting.
Now in my early fifties, I have no particular desire for babies, certainly no desire for single parenthood, though sometimes I regret having only one child. But like my friend, who knows, I might change my mind. I am grateful to be living at a time when parenthood can be obtained at any age, so long as the means and right attitude are in place.
(All photos modelled by Alex B.)