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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Woman gives birth to twins- at 60! Sane or selfish?

By now, I'm sure you've all heard about the 60 year old New Jersey woman, Frieda Birnbaum, who recently gave birth to twin boys through in-vitro fertilization. She traveled half way around the world (South Africa to be exact) to get that done. Married to her husband Ken (a N.Y. attorney) for 38 years, they already have a 29 year-old daughter and 2 sons, a 33 year-old and a 6 year-old (also conceived through IVF).

The reasoning behind her decision to have children so late in life, other than wanting a playmate for her 6 year-old, was her burning desire to make a statement that older women should be able to have children “without a stigma attached.”

Interviewed for the Today show, from the New Jersey hospital where she delivered the boys by c-section, she told Meredith Vieira that:
Those who believe it is wrong for older women to bear children need to get in step with a society that is living longer. “It's wonderful. It's wonderful.” Birnbaum is believed to be the oldest woman ever to give birth to twins in the U.S. “I think those people need to get ready for what's coming up in our society. Whenever there's anything new, people cannot comprehend or have difficult getting comfortable," she said. "There are a lot of middle-aged women [having babies] — 40s, 50s, now I just turned 60. That's going to be acceptable. They have to just keep up with what's going on with society.”
I don't think this story would have bothered me so much if, by some miracle, she just happened to find herself pregnant at the age of 60. But, the fact that she consciously sought medical aid and intervention, thousands of miles away, to help her become pregnant, I find terribly disturbing and incredibly selfish. Even her adult children were not thrilled with the decision. In an interview with the New York Daily News her daughter, Alana, said, “She's youthful for her age but I don't think it's good. She should be going to the gym and taking time for herself — not taking on more stresses and responsibilities ... Am I happy at all about this? No. I'm not." And, no wonder she's not a happy camper, because she (or the older brother) will obviously be saddled with the 3 young 'uns if Ma and Pa croak, and they already have children of their own. It seems monumentally unfair, to me, considering Alana and her brother had no choice in the matter.

In response to her daughter's disapproval, she said “My daughter feels I should be living in Florida having a good life. I hope when she’s older, she’ll see this and understand she has choices. I don’t feel like I’m 60. I don’t know what 60 is meant to be.” Inspired while reading an article about older women and childbirth, Frieda seems to have taken this on as a warped feminist challenge to societal dictates. She told Vieira "It's really basically about women and empowerment." She wanted to let women know they have choices. Because her dad lived to the ripe old age of 92 and her mother until 89, she seems to think that she too will live that long. But there are no guarantees in life, and even if she does live for another 20 plus years, how much energy is she going to have to adequately take care of 3 young children? They'll be in their 70s when the twins start to reach puberty. Is Dad going to play baseball with a walker?

And what about the emotional toll on the twins: having parents that are the age of their peers' grandparents, and knowing they only have a short time to spend with them? What I find most amazing about this whole story is that Frida is a psychologist. You would think she'd know better.

Oh, and she plans on writing a book, with her Obstetrician, about her experience. To inspire other older women to have children at ages they shouldn't be having children.

14 comments:

lizze said...

I take issue with "I don’t feel like I’m 60." Well she is 60 no matter what she feels like. In fifteen years time, she will be 75 and her teenagers will be 15 - that is the issue. Kids need time, care and lots of energy ....

I just do not like this 'trading business' with children; travelling abroad to escape your own countries laws, surrogate mothers in most cases. Is it me or has the frequency of siamese twins increased in the news – I put that down to new fertility treatments and media’s love for the ‘freak’ show.

MUD said...

As an adult that has lost his father and has an elderly mother not long for this world, I am prepared for the loss. I'm not sure what I would have been like at 15 to lose a father. I am Frieda's age and glad my son is 30 not a newborn. Twins no less? Sheesh! MUD

Pat Jenkins said...

incog, i like how you put it, if she had gotten pregnant without help you would view it differently, she seems to be pushing an agenda instead of wanting a child. excellent post!!

Frasypoo said...

Hopefully my grandma wont read this !

Incognito said...

Exactly LIZZE, She seems like she's doing it to make a statement, which seems to me very selfish. I'm not sure about Siamese Twins, but when you start to mess with nature you never know what is going to happen.

MUD: Can you imagine dealing with twins and a 6 year old? Crazy.

PATJ: I wouldn't have a problem with that. I'd figure that some Soul was mean't to be born, but to actually buck nature to have a child... to me that's insanity.

FRASY: Did your Grandma have Invitro?

danny wright said...

Can you imagine growing up knowing this about yourself? "Yea the only reason I even exist is because my mom was uspet about the stigma on older women having babies. My Mom? Oh she passed away when I was twwelve."

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya hun..I just wish men like Tony Randall who had a baby when he was bloody 80 something would get the same abuse as women who do...I know its different but to me..just as morbidly selfish!..great post!
Happy Memorial Day my friend!...God bless our troops!

Incognito said...

I know, Danny, it's very sad, in my opinion.

Hey Angel, I know what you mean, but at least the wife was young, so at least their would be one parent who ccould care for the child. Though there are never any guarantees for young people, either. Indeed, God Bless our troops!

PaulaBXX said...

I could almost, not quite, but almost understand this if she did not have any children, and felt desperate to experience the whole circle of life, and just went for it despite convention. But you know, this is pretty selfish, they should have adopted a teenager, if they were intent on 'loving' a child.

PaulaBXX said...

.........and those poor children being famous FOREVER for having the oldest mother in the USA. Some life that will be. NOT.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

It is selfish, no question, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Incognito said...

Exactly, Paula, I could understand that, as well. And why not adoption? I saw this amazing story tonight about a couple who adopted 2 Russian twins. Then several years later discovered that there were 4 other siblings in Russia, who were now living in an orphanage..2 other sets of twins. Now 10 and 8 (their kids are now 6). So they decided to adopt those children, as well, in spite of the financial troubles. And they did. I went through a bunch of tissues. Very heartwarming. So many kids need to be adopted.

BCF: Absolutely... sigh.

Papa J said...

Being the father of six with one more on the way, I'm obviously for large families. The topic of the care of our children in the event of our death has come up, of course, and we have asked one of my sisters to consider it. She consented. Had she not, we would have made darn certain that whoever is given legal custody of our children would want them, in that awful eventuallity.

At sixty most people have long since written their will. I wonder if Frieda told her children, "If you want an inheritance, you'll agree to take my children if I die."

Selfish doesn't even begin to describe this woman. She is not thinking altruistically towards anyone of these children.

Incognito said...

Not sure what she told her children,all I know is that they were very against it. Nothing wrong with large families, PAPA J, if you have the energy and resources for it... and again, if it had been a natural birth, I obviously would have had no problems with that.. other than feeling sorry for her. But this...nope.