Motherhood After 50 Is Possible If You Have All Of The Money
In today’s New York Post, a 51-year-old single publicist in New York City has an essay discussing her choice to get pregnant at a later age. She is currently pregnant with her second child. She also has a 2-year-old daughter, who was born when Kahn was 49. She is super psyched for herself, and I suppose I would be too if a big part of the rationale and defense for her pregnancy weren’t the vast resources she has to pay for it.
In her essay, Tracy Kahn is very open about her decision to have kids later in life, saying she knows that people will have their judgments about it and she doesn’t give a shit. I respect that. I am not someone who likes to judge who is and who is not fit to be a parent, because God knows I wouldn’t have made the cut. She certainly seems to be set up for success:
I had the money, the energy and the endless reserves of love to raise a child. Nothing was in my way.
Alright. Toot toot! Everybody on board the Tracey Train! But then she started to lose me when she talked about how she told her 80-year-old mother that she was pregnant after IVF with donor sperm and eggs.
“How are you going to manage?” she asked. “Everyone’s doing it, Mom,” I insisted. “It’s a new age. It’s very hip.”
No. Nope. First of all, nothing makes a person sound older than saying something like, “It’s a new age. It’s very hip.” And having a baby shouldn’t be about taking part in a trend. But I don’t want this to be a character assassination piece about this one particular woman because she is hardly alone.
Women are having their first child later and later, which is great and empowering and for many reasons. And even though those of us who are older than 35 are still considered “geriatric” in terms of pregnancies, there isn’t as much of a risk to older mothers as previously assumed. In fact, in 2013 the American Society for Reproductive Medicine revised its guidelines to say that healthy women over age 50 should no longer be discouraged from getting pregnant using donor eggs or embryos.
I am cool with all of that. Not my uterus, not my business. For me, it’s the financial part of all of this that feels icky. The average cost of IVF in the United States is over $12,000. Kahn herself says that altogether she spent $75,000 to get pregnant, and would do it again. She had a $350 a day baby nurse for her first baby and employs a full-time nanny. When she gets older (she’s thinking around age 80) she plans to hire a live-in nurse so that her kids don’t have to take care of her. I would assume, purely because of the costs associated, that most women in that age group who are using fertility treatments and donor eggs to get pregnant are fairly wealthy and have similar plans. So good. Great. The kids will be loved and cared for, and that’s what’s most important. But it makes me uncomfortable that wealthy (and mostly white) women are being given the go ahead to have babies whenever they want to, when that is not an option for most other women. Women who have less financial resources and have also never found Mr. or Mrs. Right, and have also sacrificed their personal lives for their careers. And it isn’t about being able to afford to care for a child, it’s about not having $75,000 to spend creating that child. Something about that feels grossly selective.
I don’t know what the right answer is. I believe strongly in women making their own choices about their bodies, and I wouldn’t want there to be limits set on women’s reproductive decisions. It’s just the fact that Tracy Khan gets featured in the New York Post talking about how lucky she is to be able to pay to get pregnant and to afford to have her children cared for as she ages feels…I need a better word than icky, don’t I?