I’ve just been reading a terribly sad feature written by a woman who got pregnant at 43 and seems to believe that her age is to blame for her failure to connect with her daughter and the fact that she has no desire to spend any time with her. It isn’t easy reading, particularly for anyone who would absolutely adore to have a child, but the link is here if you want to take a look.
I think it is a great shame that the author has used her own feelings to draw conclusions about offering IVF to women of 40-42, as I find it very hard to believe that age has anything to do with the way she feels – I think she would have had just the same response to being a parent had she been 20 or 30 when she conceived rather than in her early 40s. In fact, it is often suggested that older women may be good parents precisely because they have more time to devote to their children, and the sweeping generalisation that all older women may feel too set in their ways to accept the changes that motherhood can bring seems to me to be completely wrong.
To then go on to to conclude from this that offering IVF to women in their early forties may not be such a good thing because they are too selfish is just nonsense. When I interviewed women who’d had children after fertility problems for my book Precious Babies, it was very clear that whatever age they were, they all relished spending time with the children they’d longed for.
Of course your age makes a difference to the sort of parent you are because your interests and lifestyle tend to be different as you get older – but this can be positive rather than negative, so don’t ever believe that waiting to have a baby is going to make you any less capable as a parent in the future.
I’m hijacking my own blog today to write about something not entirely fertility-related, which I don’t usually do – but this is important.
I went to Lewisham Hospital at the start of my fertility investigations. It’s a local hospital, serving the local community and has been performing so well that it has been listed as one of the top forty hospitals in the country in recent months. Unfortunately, being a successful hospital hasn’t prevented a proposal being made to shut the hospital’s new A and E department along with the maternity and intensive care units and children’s services.
The idea is that instead of going to a good, local hospital, people living in the area will have to travel for up to an hour to reach a not very good, not very local hospital. I once had the misfortune to attend A and E in the not very good hospital we are now expected to travel to. The staff at the reception desk were rude and unhelpful, I waited for four hours and didn’t ever get seen by a doctor. It wasn’t an experience I’d want to repeat.
The reason for closing Lewisham is because the not so good hospital is crippled by huge debts. So you close down the high-performing, good hospital and make everyone go to the debt-ridden not-so-good one instead… Logical, heh?
I know that budgets mean that savings must be made in the NHS – and that some rationalisation is necessary – but I’ve yet to hear a coherent answer as to how this is a rational decision. Centralising may make sense for some services, but whoever came up with the idea of centralised A and E? Surely the whole point is that you need to be able to get to an A and E department quickly in an emergency? Maybe the real hope is that more people will expire before they ever get to the hospital? Closing Lewisham’s A and E is the kind of lunacy you get when you have decisions made by people who have little understanding of the local area – or the needs of local people – and who can’t think beyond their calculators.
So, if you’re in South East London, come on the march on Saturday and support the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital – more details at www.savelewishamhospital.com