Cynthia Wilson James is founder and publisher of InSeason Mom.org, a leading online resource for first time moms over 35 and 40. She responses to frequently asked questions by the media and her audience.
1) Do you think women should wait as long as 35 or 40 to have a baby?
I do not advocate every woman should wait until she is over 40 to have a baby any more than I advocate all women should have children. I strongly believe there is a season for everything in life, including giving birth. Your season is not determined by when I think or when anyone else thinks you should give birth. I believe only God makes that decision.
2) Doesn’t websites like yours InSeason Mom.org encourages women to delay childbirth while ignoring the medical risks, which comes with age?
I think this question is more like which came first, the chicken or the egg. InSeason Mom.org was “birthed” out of not seeing enough positive information on giving birth after 35 or 40 and seeing too many misconceptions accepted as truth.
As a former childbirth educator, I know that there are risks associated with any pregnancy, whether a woman is 22 or 42. As publisher and founder of InSeason Mom, my main role is provide support as an older mom work with her medical physician to ensure the best health care possible. I also want to work with health care professionals to increase sensitivity in providing care to first time moms over 35 and 40.
3) Why do you need to work with health care professionals to increase sensitivity in providing care to older moms?
I hear almost daily from healthy women in their 40s who want to conceive and from those who are pregnant about the lack of sensitivity from health care professionals in providing care. The first question you should ask an overjoyed expectant mother over age 35 shouldn’t be whether her pregnancy was planned. I know women who will not discuss their desire to conceive because they don’t want to hear their physicians rattle off a bunch of negative information. Your health care professional should be a person you can talk to, a person you can have a partnership with in your health.
4) What do you think is the biggest stereotype or misconception about older women who give birth?
I feel I am an authority on stereotypes or misconceptions. I am not the stereotypical image of a first time mom over 40. I am a southern-born, college-educated, God-fearing, black woman who got married for the first time at age 40 to her best male friend. I believe the biggest misconception is that we all waited until we were older to have our children because we were so involved climbing the corporate ladder. Few people take into consideration that many of us waited to find the right marriage partner or struggled for years with infertility.
5) How old were you when you gave birth? Do you think when your children become teenagers, they will be ashamed that you are not as youthful-looking as their friends’ parents?
I conceived naturally and gave birth at age 42 to a healthy daughter and again at age 44 to another healthy daughter. I always smile when I get the “will children be ashamed question” because I currently work at a diverse high school with over 2-thousand teenagers. One teenager may want to faint because his mom called him his secret family nickname in front of his friends. Another teenager may not want to be seen in public with her dad because he insists on wearing a worn-out tee shirt with his favorite team on it. My point is all teenagers at one time or the other will be ashamed of their parents. That’s call being a youth and lacking wisdom.
6) You conceived your children naturally in your early 40s. What do you think of medically assisted reproductive techniques who make it possible for a woman to have a child up to age 70?
This is a difficult question because I cannot honestly say whether I would have tried medically assisted reproductive techniques if I had not conceived naturally. The financial cost may have made the decision for me. I am a major supporter of adoption. I will say I have always wanted children.
7) What do you say to your critics who condemn pregnancy after 35?
I don’t say anything to them because when I hold my daughters, the voices of those who condemn pregnancy after 35 sounds like trying to hear an ant crawl during a thunderstorm. The voices no longer exist because I know I am in the perfect will for this season in my life.