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More women giving birth after 40

May 07, 2010|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Rolling with the punches is vital, because older mothers admit that there are some challenges, namely battling perceptions that they are self-centered to have had a baby at such a late age. Those sentiments are consistent with a survey taken last year by Pew Research Center about attitudes toward women who give birth after 40.

In a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults, included married and unmarried people, 33 percent said that they believe women giving birth after 40 was bad for society, while 47 percent said it didn't make much difference and 13 percent said it was good for society.

"Older Americans, 65 and older, are most likely to be disapproving: 43 percent of them said it was bad for society," said D'Vera Cohn, senior writer at the Pew Research Center and co-author of the survey. "Men are somewhat more likely to say that it doesn't make a difference."

Karmel said that for the most part, she's heard few comments about being an older mom with an infant.

But during a department store visit with Juliette, Karmel said that another patron approached the two, admired the infant, then turned to mom and said, "Is she yours?"

"And during my pregnancy I had a couple of people come to me and say, 'Better you and not me,' or 'You must be crazy,' " Karmel added. "Those comments stung a bit, but you have to have the maturity not to let things bother you."

Both Karmel and Lally say that support groups help in those areas, too.

A local branch of a national group for older mothers called Motherhood Later … Than Sooner was launched in January by Donna Bogash, 49, of Reisterstown. She said that her desire to have a child in her 40s was met with skepticism by a doctor who told her, "No reputable fertility specialist would touch you with a 10-foot pole."

"My mother had me at 39 and my youngest brother at 42, and that was back in the early 1960s. She's still around and active at 87," Bogash said. "Times, attitudes, lifestyles and health have changed a lot since then. My advice to a woman over 40 considering having a baby is, don't let the number get in your way. There are pluses and minuses to having children at any age."

Then there's Flowerpowermom.com, a website and blog launched six months ago to advocate for women over 40. Site creator Angel La Liberte, 49, of Santa Cruz, Calif., said she launched it because of experiences she endured as an over-40 mom. She gave birth to her first child at 41 and her second at 44.

The site, which has followers in the Baltimore area, lists famous women who have given birth over 40 (Nancy Grace, Susan Sarandon, Salma Hayek), as well as books, resources and a site newsletter. On Mother's Day, the site will feature, "Celebrating Motherhood After 40," a tribute photo album to older mothers across the country.

"They lend their support by telling their story, so other over-40 moms hear it and feel empowered," said La Liberte.

Karmel says she looks forward to what motherhood will bring in her older years.

"I find myself in a much more grounded position, and I am confident in who I am," said Karmel. "I am much more selfless and loving. There is a marked difference in who I am as a woman at 45 than at 19 and 34."

joe.burris@baltsun.com

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