BEL MOONEY: Would it be madness for me to try for a baby at 45?

Would it be madness for me to try for a baby at 45

I don

I don”t see the point in getting married if we don”t have children together


I’m 45, my partner is 35 and we’ve been together for five years.

We’d got together very quickly after my marriage ended and, while we had a lot of fun, I soon realised this wasn’t what I wanted.

He was quite immature — always at the pub and football and, although he got on with my children (now nine and 12), it didn’t come naturally.

We split up after 18 months together as I wasn’t sure of my feelings. Very shortly after that I discovered I was pregnant.

Traumatisedat the thought of being 41, and pregnant with two children already to support, I had a termination without telling him.

Sixmonths after splitting, we decided to try again. I told him about the termination and (although disappointed I hadn’t told him) he accepted it.

Itold him I didn’t want more children due to my age and was still wary of how the relationship would progress. Most of his friends are single and still go out drinking several times a week, my boyfriend goes once or twice a week — which is fine.

Hemoved in a year ago and things are going well. He’s loving, generous, kind and attentive and wants us to get married, but I find it impossibleto commit.

I don’t see the point in getting married if we don’t have children together and I worry about the financial implications on my children (my house is for them when I die, but I know I will need to make provisions for him, too).

My marriage breakdown was so hard, I’m scared of failing again. All I’d ever wanted was a family. My husband was the quietest man in the world and never went out, but still managed to have a fling with a girl at work.

Recently, some friends and family members have had babies and I know my boyfriend wishes we’d had our own. He says it’s still not too late, but he’s not bothered if I don’t want to try.

I wish I’d just had a baby a year or so after getting back together.

Now I feel I’ve left it too late. I missed a few Pills on holiday and was panic-stricken in case I was pregnant, then disappointed I wasn’t.

I’m confused as to whether I want a baby just for him or myself, too.

I always wanted more children, but the thought of starting again at this age doesn’t appeal. I think people will think it ridiculous and I may not be able to conceive now anyway.

Do you think it would be madness to try for a baby at 45


Your final question is as crisp and clear as any advice columnist would want, and yet I don’t think this is the real issue at the heart of your letter.

Still, let’s deal with it first. The number of women giving birth over the age of 45 has just about doubled, compared to figures from the late Nineties.

There are many reasons why women delay having children these days, yet we should remember that in Victorian times, women would have gone on having children into their 40s — although probably not first-time births.

Still, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning had her only son at 43, after at least three miscarriages. Which is relevant because, as you know, older mothers do face greater complications and health risks. The rising number of women who delay childbirth has been linked to a boom in underweight babies.

Nowadays, women who choose to delay (perhaps for career reasons) have the example of many well-known women to encourage them to try for babies when they are well into their 40s.

Here are just a few examples. Cherie Blair was 45 when she had Leo, Jane Seymour had twins at 44, Susan Sarandon gave birth at 46, supermodel Imam, actress Meera Syal and swimmer Sharron Davies at 44, movie stars Geena Davis and Holly Hunter each had twins at 48 and 47 respectively, and choreographer Arlene Phillips had a baby at 47.

You must be aware that women have given birth in their 60s, here and abroad — although whether that’s a good idea is another issue.

So, no, you would not be mad to try and I don’t think your friends would consider it ‘ridiculous’ if you got pregnant.


Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail [email protected]

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

However, they might think it unwise, especially if you had confided to them all the doubts contained within your email.

The real crux of the issue is whether you feel that having a baby is right for you at this point in your life and (more important) whether you and your partner would give the child a stable upbringing.

You need to sort out your confusion before taking such an important step. I can’t do it for you.

All I can suggest is that perhaps you try to old method of writing pros and cons down on a piece of paper (that is how the great Darwin decided whether or not to marry!) and talking it through with your chap. You and he had a rocky beginning, as a result of which you had an abortion.

This — coming so soon after the bitter unhappiness caused by your husband’s infidelity — must have been very hard for you to bear. But it’s done now and although you may have regrets I see no point in allowing guilt to affect this decision.

What’s more, I must point out (with sympathy) that you did not ‘fail’ at your marriage. Your husband had an affair. What makes that your fault
It would be a great pity if you let your feelings of rejection and failure colour the present.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and vow to move on. Realise that all men do not behave in the same way.

You were disappointed with your current partner at first because, ten years younger, he seemed to want to go out all the time. But now he has settled down and you are happy together.

He is also being admirably easy-going about the issue of whether or not you have a baby. Why not marry him if you love each other Stop thinking about who owns what; listen to your heart.

I long to escape my boring life

I am a 62-year-old woman, married for 40 years to a reliable but mean and dependent man. We go out for occasional meals or cinema trips.

Neither of us has any family or friends and have no hobbies/interests away from each other.

Our two grown-up children have busy lives, each with a wide circle of friends. I am so glad they are not like us. We see them only occasionally. When I telephone them, I think I am interrupting their lives.

I work part-time in a job I enjoy, but my colleagues are much younger (20-30) and I am not included in any of their activities.

All I can see before me are years of boredom and increasing isolation. I cannot find the courage to change or even end my life. (I know I would not be missed.)

I know you have no quick-fix answers, but I don’t know how to move away from this increasingly depressing state.

I’m sure my husband and children are unaware of my feelings, and I wouldn’t want them to know.


Your letter, Jayne, is a pitiful thing. The fact that there is no address, that the sheet of file paper is stained with tea or coffee and oddly ragged, speaks volumes.

If the words were Russian, I’d still see it as coming from someone past caring about anything.

Had you put a postal address, I’d havedone some research in your locality, so that I could have made some concrete suggestions for action. But what can you expect me to say to someone who doesn’t want to be reached

Read your letter again, and consider how you would advise such a negative soul.

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Your state is certainly ‘depressing’ to read about, yet depression is what afflicts you.

The obvious thing for me to suggest is an urgent visit to your GP. It could be that medication will help you to a more even keel.

Yes, it can work. I know a successful man whose life is only made possible because of Prozac, and although I think talking to a qualified (or very wise) person is a better option, there is a role for the right medication in some cases. Either way, the visit to the GP will be a starting point.

You wrote to me. Now do this. It’s the nearest thing to a ‘quick-fix’ I can offer.

Apart from that…well, how do we deal with your colossal self-pity

Yes, you’re depressed, but that won’t stop me from trying to nudge you into awareness. You describe your husband as ‘mean’ (do you mean mean-minded or tight-fisted), yet since he is ‘dependent’ on your company, he would surely miss you were you to end your own life. Which you won’t.

You hardly talk to your children — I’m not sure if that’s your fault or theirs.

As for your work colleagues — honestly, speaking as your peer, I wouldn’t expect to be asked along if a group of 25-year-olds went for a drink. So I beg you not to use that as yet another self-inflicted arrow in your own breast.

Let’s focus on the positives. You enjoy your part-time job. (Is there any chance you could increase the hours) You and your husband do go out together. (Have you thought of trying something you’ve never done before)

You don’t hate him even if the best word you can find for him is ‘reliable’.

Those three points make you more fortunate than some women who write to me.

Sixty-two years young is the time to start to find new interests. Have you investigated your local church/WI/charities/courses/dog-walking for a rescue home/driving elderly people/etc No, of course not. Well, why not do so

Lastly, why do you consign your husband and children — the very people you should care most about — to ignorance of how you feel

I want you to open your eyes, mind and heart and reflect on why I should think that truly terrible. Then make an appointment with your GP.

Then sit down with your husband and confide in him. Please.

The true power of words

So we found the end of our journey. So we stood, alive in the river of light, Among the creatures of light, creatures of light…

Ted Hughes (from ‘That Morning’) inscription on memorial stone in Westminster Abbey

More than one reader tells me each week that they cut out the quotation from my column to think about.

Itpleases me so much — as I believe passionately in the power of words tochange lives. Reading the poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath for thefirst time in 1967 changed mine forever.

I was just 21, a student of English, about to get married, all life ahead. Thetwo poets introduced me to worlds I had never dreamt of, teaching me truths about human passion and pain, and about our place within the universe, which stay with me now — and help me write this column.

Ted’s books were also among the first presents given to me by my first husband, and I still treasure them (and his inscriptions).

So I was overwhelmed, on Tuesday night, to be one of the guests at the moving ceremony of dedication in Westminster Abbey, when a handsome memorial stone to Ted Hughes was unveiled in Poets’ Corner.

Ted Hughes died in 1998 aged 68. A magnificent Poet Laureate, he was (in Seamus Heaney

Ted Hughes died in 1998 aged 68. A magnificent Poet Laureate, he was (in Seamus Heaney”s words), “a guardian spirit of the land and language”

I sat among poets, with the spirits of poets all around, and heard the great Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney read Ted’s work and give the address. This to me was the equivalent of a dedicated fan meeting, say, Frank Lampard or Paul McCartney. Yes, we all need our heroes to remind us of what is possible.

Ted Hughes died in 1998 aged 68. A magnificent Poet Laureate, he was (in Heaney’s words), ‘a guardian spirit of the land and language’.

But what many people don’t know is that he was also a dedicated educationist, who worked tirelessly to encourage creativity in children, believing that the talent within is ‘immeasurable’ — and just needs leading out.

As he wrote in 1967, ‘. . . it is possible . . . to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions inside the head . . . Words that will express something of the deep complexity which makes us the way we are.’

At significant moments in life, people reach for great words to express their deepest feelings. I’m grateful to Ted Hughes (and the rest) for the gift of poetry.