Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Becoming a mum again in my 50s? Hubby isn't keen

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Shocking news out of Britain this week is the trend of women in their 50s having babies. The number of babies born to women over 50 has doubled in four years to 154.

Who knew they could?

I had my first baby at 24 and my last at 35 because I was led to believe that any later and my ovaries would look like prunes and my energy levels would be so depleted that my mothering skills would give Joan Crawford a run for her money.

While I'm sure some of the 50s mothers used IVF, the fact that they could carry a baby and push it out leaves me awe-inspired.

To be that willing, that energetic, to be able to endure those first few months of night feeds, which drain even the youngest mothers, says a lot about the physiology of these women and their positive attitude. I regard them as nothing short of Amazonian - unlike a few men I talked to, who recoiled in horror at the thought of late-life mothers, one describing it as "revolting" and the other as "just not right".

Apparently a woman deciding to bring a child into the world at 50 is irresponsible.

"Think how decrepit she'll be at that child's 21st!"

I'm not sure how many women in their 70s this man knows, but last time I looked they were well able to lift a glass of champagne and deliver a very wise and funny speech when called upon.

The average life expectancy of a New Zealand woman is now 83, which means if she had a child in her 50s, they would be into their 30s by the time she kicks the bucket. And I'm reasonably confident that a woman in her 80s is quite capable of lending money, providing a spare room for relationship break-up stays and lending more money, which is what most 30-year-olds require from their parents.

Yet when men father children in their 50s, or in some cases their 80s, this is something society accepts as quite normal and men, in particular, seem to think it's a fine show of virility.

The presumption can only be that when it comes to child-rearing, all men have to do is fertilise, then wander off for a cup of tea and a lie-down while the woman should be the one doing the nappy changing and getting up in the middle of the night.

For the purposes of this column, and the fact that I am being a supportive wife for a year, I thought I should do a life-expectancy quiz on the internet with a view to breeding again. I filled out page after page giving details of my health, my diet, my exercise, my stress and my genes.

According to the results, I can expect to live to 100 and the only question I lied about was how much alcohol I drink. I said one glass of wine a day when it's probably more like two. So there is nothing stopping me from adding to our family of five children and popping out a late-life baby as the ultimate supportive-wife gift to my husband.

My granddaughters would adore a wee baby to play with, and for the first time in my life, I have more time available for child-rearing than I ever had with the others.

Mothers in their 50s have a lot to offer children. A good home, financial security, a mother who has had a career so won't be annoyed that she had to give it up or need it to pay the bills, and a mother who doesn't miss parties and nightclubs. Most 50-year-old women I know are quite happy with an early night and a good book, all the better for getting a good rest before that 1am feed, I say.

But my chances of joining this new trend are at the moment very slim, considering one of the men who disapproved of late-life mothers is my husband.

"Not a chance," he said, wandering off and shaking his head in disbelief.

"Not on my watch."

- NZ Herald

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