originally published November 16, 2012
Most experts would agree that the true joy in giving birth is being a guy so that you don’t have to give up drinking for nine months, nor must you experience the agony of childbirth. Speaking as a guy (and on behalf of all guys everywhere, since there’s no one within earshot to contradict me right now), I have tremendous respect for the women who donate their bodies and souls to cooking up another human inside them. It’s the closest thing we have to magic outside a Vegas casino, and it’s pretty damn amazing. Also, kind of gross, with the fluids and mucous plugs and all that. But let’s stay focused on the amazing.
I’m happy to scan the myriad of childbirth topics today, beginning with the item that was randomly thrust to my fingertips – Patricia Rashbrook.
No, that’s not a sweet photo of Rashbrook with her granddaughter. That’s her kid. After starting up with some in vitro fertilization therapy in 2005, Rashbrook got herself knocked up. Her baby, whom she named Jay Jay (because one Jay is never enough), was born the following May, when Rashbrook was 62. This made her the oldest new mom in England’s history.
Sixty-two. I suppose with people living longer and healthier lives, it’s entirely conceivable that when Jay Jay turns eighteen – presumably changing his name – Patricia will still be going strong at 80, full of life and proudly beaming at his high school graduation. But that’s pushing beyond the expected. The average lifespan for a woman in England right now is 78.1, which means that Jay Jay’s sixteenth birthday present might conceivably be to have no mother.
Not to worry, though. Rashbrook is a child psychiatrist, so her kid will be fine, or if not fine, medicated. Besides, there has to be someone who’s birth is even more shocking than this, right? Hell yes.
Jesus, even the baby doesn’t believe this happening. That’s Adriana Iliescu, a Romanian lady who became pregnant with triplets in 2004, nine years after she had first begun taking hormone therapy to reverse menopause. Yes, triplets. The woman was 66 years old.
Baby number one died after ten weeks in the womb, while number two made it as far as 33 weeks. Baby number three, Eliza, was born in 2006. The story made international headlines, prompting a debate as to whether or not Romanian law should be altered to fit the European standard, in which in vitro treatments are not offered for women over fifty.
At the time of Eliza’s birth, Adrianna Iliescu held the record for the oldest new mom in the world. Fortunately, this is a rollerfuck-nutsballs world, so that record didn’t stick for very long.
This is Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, the current record holder (for old mom-ness, not the length of her name). On December 29, 2006, she gave birth to twin boys in Spain, not surprisingly also thanks to in vitro fertilization. Maria was 66, but an older 66 than Adriana, so she gets the honor of holding the record.
And what an honor it is. When the scandal-snoops showed up to interview her, she claimed that having babies was something she always dreamed of, and that it was the right time for her. Also, her mother lived to 101, so she fully anticipated watching her boys grow to adulthood, maybe even to meet her grandkids.
Whilst sipping his morning coffee, cancer read the interview with Maria and decided to intervene, just to make a point. Ovarian cancer claimed Maria in July of 2009, when her twins were a year and a half old.
Look, I’m aware that my wild, outlaw lifestyle may leave my own children fatherless before they’ve reached adulthood*. I have accepted that. But having a kid at that age seems outright irresponsible to me. I levied the same criticism when James “Scotty” Doohan had his last kid at 76. Why bring a child into the world just to leave them without a parent before your job is done?
(*in all fairness, my ‘wild outlaw’ lifestyle refers mainly to consumption of trans fats.)
Other stories like this dot the medical landscape: an unnamed Italian woman allegedly giving birth in 1997 at age 69, a 70-year-old new mom in India whose age can’t be 100% verified, and the supposed expulsion of a new baby from the uterus of Mrs. Steve Pace of Rose Hill, Virginia in 1941, when Mrs. Pace was 73. These aren’t fully substantiated, nor are they particularly uplifting when it comes to evaluating the collective sanity of humankind. So I’m going to switch gears and try to learn about something else.
Ever hear of a three-parent baby? This doesn’t refer to a broken-up couple having a baby after one of them has gotten re-married. This is actually about splicing the nucleus out of one egg and placing it into the cytoplasm of another egg, then fertilizing it with a third parent’s sperm. This practice is currently banned in the United States, but it’s currently being researched in China, where apparently they don’t have enough people yet.
Sympathetic pregnancy, which TV sitcoms taught me was an actual thing at a young age, is still not a recognized medical condition. Also known as Couvade Syndrome, this is when the expectant mother’s mate undergoes a number of pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, abdominal pain, postpartum depression and nosebleeds. Sure, there are psychological and hormonal explanations for this, but do we really need to steal the spotlight away from our women at this point? They’re growing a tiny human – take a pill or something.
For pregnancy done right, head down to Tamil Nadu, a southern state in India. Women here – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, it doesn’t matter – experience a ceremony known as Valaikaapu when they’re expecting. The mom-to-be dons a black sari, then is given her favorite foods, some jewelry, a bunch of presents, cell phones, household appliances, maybe a pet ocelot. The expectant mom’s parents are the ones who are supposed to supply the goodies, even if it means borrowing money from a pawnbroker to make it happen.
Sounds like a great deal, both for new moms and local pawnbrokers.
Of course, if you’re in your sixties you might not have parents to heap gifts on you for a Valaikaapu ceremony. Just another reason to stay the hell unpregnant. Seriously, your genes are not that important; the human race will carry on just fine without you spurting a kid into the crowd so late in life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this pregnancy talk has made me hungry.