Sunday, November 17, 2002

Maternity after 50



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A California study (where else?) has determined that it's perfectly fine for women over the age of 50 to bear children. They just need eggs from somebody young, assistance from a fertility expert, lots of money and enormous confidence that they can beat the clock.

Nobody sets out to leave an orphan, do they?

"We're having our own grandkids - we just skipped having kids," a 55-year-old woman in the study said. "For us, it's just a dream come true."

Maybe somebody should check back in 15 years to see if her teenager enjoys coming home after school and spending the afternoon looking for his mother's glasses. Or if it makes him uneasy to see his parents sizing up assisted living facilities and giving each other gift certificates for Miracle Ear for Christmas.

Is this a dream come true for him?

The Lycra test

Botox and liposuction can change the way we look, but Mother Nature still controls the infrastructure. On average, women stop producing eggs at age 51, but the University of Southern California study reports that the 77 post-menopausal women using donated eggs suffered no serious health problems, nor did their babies.

Several years ago, another study followed a young athlete, fit and suited up in Lycra, who was challenged to chase a 2-year-old around for a day, reproducing the motions of the toddler. Running. Climbing. And, I presume, stuffing crayons up his nose, putting gum in his hair, scooting under beds, jumping off the potty. The athlete collapsed after about two hours. This concurs with the research conducted by most grandparents.

Before a 55-year-old women becomes pregnant, maybe she should conduct a study of her own, following, say, a 35-year-old mother with a couple of kids. (Right away, I think the Lycra would be a deterrent.) After the warm-up following a toddler, they could go to a Brownie Scout meeting. Imagine how you'd feel when they sang, "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" knowing your ears and most everything else hangs low. You have to sit around the campfire on a rock not a Barcalounger.

But we baby boomers, self-absorbed as ever, will not be denied. We are in our peak earning years, feeling good and wondering if there's anything left to buy. A baby?

Mother Nature is not withholding eggs because she hates us. Maybe she is giving us permission to race around for as long as we can with our grandkids, then wave goodbye and collapse on a heating pad. If we devoted ourselves to other pursuits during our child-bearing years, maybe we could lavish attention on kids who technically belong to somebody else.

Some of my boomer sisters would point out that men can be fathers well into their dotage. But just because Warren Beatty does something doesn't make it a good idea. And plenty of parents don't need to be incubators or contribute DNA to stay up nights with their sick child, coach basketball and worry about SAT scores.

Eggs, if I may say so, are hardly the point.

E-mail lpulfer@enquirer.com or phone 768-8393.



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