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Birthin’ babies in the Golden Years

Posted: December 13, 2008 8:43 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Out of the millions of women celebrating childbirth this week, one really takes the cake: 70-year-old Rajo Devi of India.

After 50 years of infertility, innovative reproductive science gave the senior what she's long desired: the chance to be a mommy.

She is actually one of several women in their golden years to have recently given birth following in vitro fertilization.

The newborn is also a first for Mrs. Devi's 72-year-old, thrice-married husband - the (likely) spermatozoa-challenged fellow had been unable to get any of his wives pregnant.

But then, in one late and daring parenthood-bent hurrah, a donor egg and sperm, combined with the misses' waiting (and otherwise withering) uterus, and her willing (and rather unorthodoxly experimental) physician, brought new life into this world.

When I first read the report, my reaction was one of shock.

I thought: Another (odd) marvel of modern medicine.

So they were able to pull off making this baby. Now what?

May these folks live and be well, but what's a wintry-aged woman doing creating a child she may not even see reach kindergarten?

It's not like the little girl has older siblings to step in if she becomes orphaned.

Even if Mrs. Devi is the spryest 70-year-old in the world, there are numerous physiological and psychological changes that occur with age.

This is why a woman's reproductive years are confined to a certain time period in life, right? Our Wise Designer knew that to everything there truly is a season - and that unquestionably includes birthing babies.

Child rearing is taxing for parents in their 20s. So how's a couple in their 70s going to adequately keep up with demand-feedings, round-the-clock diaper changes, teething, falling down, throwing up, nightmares, tantrums, incessant questions - and then, one day, puberty and driver's training?

It's hard enough getting older and dealing with your own age-related medical issues. Compound those challenges with a screaming, needy infant and sleep deprivation and you could have a recipe for disaster.

Admittedly, though, when I separate myself from the obvious, when all the reasons why someone should
not have a baby at 70 get placed to the side, I am left with a contrasting take on the situation.

It's one of empathy.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge this woman solely on the aforementioned criteria, even if there is clear reasoning behind it.

A 70-year-old "nulligravida" (obstetric talk for a woman who has never borne children) raises her hand for high-risk pregnancy for the same reasons many much younger gals do it under "normal circumstances."
They possess a deep desire to experience what women have known since the human race began procreating: the incredibly precious connection between a parent and child.

It's innate, it's powerful, and evidently, it doesn't have a shelf life.

Given that some of the most seemingly capable, much younger people in this society are downright awful as parents; given that no mom or dad ever has a guarantee they'll be around to see their kids reach kindergarten - I hereby offer my heartiest good wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Devi of India.

May you go forth and have many years to love and enjoy your child.
May you get to savor all the demand feedings, round-the-clock diaper changes, teething, falling down, throwing up, nightmares, tantrums, incessant questions, and then one day (duhn-duh-duh-dunh!) puberty and driver's training.

Sure, it's a long shot.
But so is a 70-year-old woman carrying a fetus and then surviving its birth.

Diana Sevanian is a Santa Clarita resident and freelance writer. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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