Even as women of their age come to terms with becoming grandmothers, these 40+ women are busy changing their kids’ nappies
By the time you turn 60, your kids will be just in their teens!’ When 49 –year old Savitri Thapar heard this reproach for the first time, she took it with the pinch of salt. Her reaction was typically contrarian. “It’s good. At least I will have retired by that time and can be with the kids full-time,” she says. A communication manager with a Delhi-based five start hotel. Thapar always looks at the positive side of life. She gave birth to healthy twins last year and it determined to enjoy her new status as a mother- in fact, she revels in it.
A decade ago, a woman in her forties would have been considered over the hill if she wanted to be a mother. Apparently not any more-after all, if 40s are the new 30s now when it comes to looks and attitude, it’s no longer a deterrent when it comes to motherhood either. Be it for career reasons or a late marriage, the time lines for motherhood has been pushed back significantly. Even if gynaecologists say that 25-30 is the best time for childbearing, women are not losing sleepover ticking biological clocks. Thanks to advanced medical technology and infertility treatment, many are fulfilling their desire for motherhood quite late in life.
Doctors agree that the number of over-40 first-time mothers are on the rise. “There is a definite trend of late motherhood in India. I am getting eight or nine first time post-37 mothers every month. Many had late marriages, others shelved motherhood for their career,” says Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, infertility specialist, SCI Healthcare, Delhi. “In the last five year, there have been an approximate 40 per cent increase in the number of post-35 mothers. In the case of post -40 mothers, I see a 15 per cent increase. The trend is evident among urban women, with career being main reason for delay. Advancement in medical science like IVF is helping them a lot, says Dr Hrishikesh Pai, infertility specialist at Fortis Hospital, Delhi, and Lilawati Hospital, Mumbai.
BRAND NEW OLD MOMS
IF BIOLOGY still dictate that women are best suited to have babies in their 20s or 30s, how is motherhood treating these new mothers?-It’s a great feeling and I have my hands full, “laughs Thapar as she coaxes little Armaan and Vivaan to stop fighting for their new toy. Thapar says her husband Ajay Thapar has been a great help at every step, while she tries to manage the naughty pair.
Thapar’s is a case delayed marriage-the couple dated for 12 years before they decided to tie to knot five years back. Has Thapar ever regretted not having babies at younger age? “Not at all” says Thapar. Though she developed some life threatening complications in the later stage of pregnancy, the die-hard optimist in her helped to tide ove the crisis. Even amazed at my will power, says Thapar.
If Thapar takes pride in being strong-willed and determined, 44-year-old Gurinder Sandhu and her husband Hiyant Singh thank God for their bundles of joy Ranvir and Simranjit. In a second marriage now, Sandhu had to conceive through IVF. The London based couple came to India for the procedure. Though she had to put up with sneers. Sandhu says the experience of motherhood has been worth the while. Their four month old twins have brought a new meaning to her life.
Late motherhood, of course, has its share of detractors eho cite fitness and health reasons for their disapproval-and during the period of pregnancy when you look for support from all, criticism can indeed bother you. But 48-year-old Tamanna Khan takes the argument head on. “Motherhood is an awesome experience and there is no added baggage being an old mother, “says Khan, cuddling her eight months-old son Shahzad. With a late marriage and problems in conceiving. Khan too opted for IVF Many ask sarcastically “Why did you have to go for it now?” but Khan shrugged off critics saying, “It’s God’s will.”
DOCTORS OPINIONS VARY
KHAN who works on handicrafts from home says she has gone enough time for her vocation even now. And what’s more-she plans a second baby next year if health permits “Who says I am old” I feel like 30. “says Thapar who can put any young mother to shame as she manages works and home with ease. “My babies are active at night and I have to leave for work at 6:30 in the morning. My stamina helps me juggle office and home,” she beams.
Some doctors, however present a counter-view and say that mothers in their 20s and 30s can handle their babies better.
“Young mother certainly have an edge over those in their 40s and 50s. Motherhood requires a lot of running around and hard work.” Says Dr M Gouri Devi and infertility specialist in Gouri hospital. However Dr Gouri differs. “It’s subjective. I have a 44-year-old first timer who is fit and health conscious; while another 22-year-old mom weighs 120kgs and just can’t control her diet.”
OLDER, MORE MATURE
STAMINA is an important factor but when it comes to bonding with children, wouldn’t younger woman have an edge? Or would the financial stability of the older mother outweigh such factors? A study conducted by Brian Powell, a sociology professor, Indian University has revealed that post-40 parents are financially better off; spend more time with their children and bond better with their children’s friends than younger parents. The concept of aging has changed over the years, and recent motherhood trends are just corollary to that.
At 54, Nirmala Nathan Singh ensures that her family members engage in a lot of activities together they go swimming, take walks in the park, spend the evening playing games and go horse riding. Age has never come in the way of Nirmala and her husband Pavan Sher Singh, who indulge their Zoravar, 14 and Zubair, 13. Nirmala embraced late motherhood because she had to wait to till 39 for the right man to come along. She had her sons at 40 and 41. “My pregnancy was normal except that my sons were born premature, but they are healthy alright,” says Nirmala.
But has peer jeer left their children red-faced? When most women in their age group are talking about their grandchildren, do they feel embarrassed? “Not at all maybe we don’t look our age. My sons don’t feel they have old parents and we get along well with their friends, “says Nirmala.
The Thapars too talk about some unsual circumstances “Armaan and Virmaan’s cousins are married and have kids elder than them. But it’s fun when are together.” Laughs Thapar.
DEALING WITH PEER JEER
BUT HOW do late bloomers put up with accusations of playing with the biological clock and being selfish and irresponsible? “We are not irresponsible. We had a late marriage so late children,” says Thapar. “I don’t pay attention to what people say. It’s every woman’s right to have children at any age,” says Sandhu. Taking a dig at people who say these children will lose their parents early in life. Khan says, “Anything can happen to young mothers too.”
THE FLIP SIDE
HOWEVER, opting to have babies post 40s comes with a set of challenges. “We explain to women the complications in the late pregnancies. It they are ready for it, we help them, “says Dr Devi. “With late pregnancies, the chances of Down’s Syndrome in babies are higher,” says Dr Pai. However, it can be tracked at an early stage of pregnancy.
Besides, most post-40 women have opt for IVF since the conception rate is relatively low, says Dr Gour. “The success rate of IVF in 40-plus women is low and has many complications. There could be risk like hypertension, diabetes, etc, which can pose a threat to both the child and the mother,” warns Dr Devi, According to Dr Pai the way out is to balance career and family and not to delay delivery after 30.
But if that’s not possible stick to Khan’s advice. Just be a loving mom, because age has nothing to do with it.