In this digital age, once something is public it seems to be open slather for people to attack. There are those who think judging another’s personal choice is their right, particularly behind the anonymity of a keyboard.
Take Elle McPherson for example – at age 51, she’s chosen to become a mum via surrogate. The internet trolls are out, saying that she’s too old and it’s selfish. The same happened to Sonia Kruger, who gave birth in January to a baby girl at age 49.
Why do people think it’s acceptable to judge a woman’s fertility choices?
Lorna Berry knows the feeling well. But the judgement she received was right there in her face.
Lorna had her first child at age 27. 16 years later, she fell pregnant with her second child. According to some, 43 was ‘over the hill’ to be having a baby – never mind the fact that the pregnancy was planned.
Something was missing in Lorna’s life for over a decade. At nearly 40 her first marriage ended and she was a single parent to daughter Samantha. Due to her circumstances and suffering from Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Lorna thought her chance to have another child was gone.
“But then I met Matthew, who was a single dad. He was a great parent, and a number of things happened that made me really think about life and how short it is. We decided that we wanted to try for a baby and knew that it was now or never. I was 41 at the time,” Lorna said.
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome makes trying to conceive hard for anyone, let alone someone over 40. Lorna’s chances of conceiving naturally or by other means were estimated at about two per cent. But she went into the journey with eyes wide open.
“I consulted my doctor about the risks. This was a decision that was not made overnight. I started seeing a naturopath, cut out alcohol and really focused on my health,” Lorna said.
The odds were mounting and then Matthew broke his leg – not ideal for baby-making. However, they managed to conceive and were welcomed back into the world of pregnancy with a five-week stint at home due to severe morning sickness.
The stigma of being pregnant was palpable when Lorna returned to the office.
“I was asked on a daily basis if the pregnancy was planned. It used to upset me immensely. One of the worst occasions was a client saying “I just don’t understand why you would”. My response was: “Well, you don’t have to understand – this is my life,” Lorna said.
Some would say it’s ‘unfair’ to the child, or that giving birth and raising a baby is harder as you age, but Lorna questions all of that.
“Why is it unfair? You could say the same about a teen pregnancy, but [their age] does not mean that they are not a great parent. We made a conscious decision to complete our family. I was fitter at 42 than I was at 27 and I work hard to maintain fitness so that when I am older I can keep up,” Lorna said.
Grace, Lorna’s second daughter, is now two and has made the family of five – Lorna, Matthew, Samantha, 18, Dylan, 10, and Grace – blissfully happy.
“I realise now how much I had supressed the desire to have another child, and for Samantha to be a sister. There are 20 days short of 16 years between the girls,” she said.
Lorna’s advice to other older women considering having a baby is “go for it”.
“Enjoy every minute. Look after yourself, and if it is meant to be it will be. I am so grateful that Grace chose our family. She makes my heart sing,” Lorna said.
And to the naysayers and trolls, never judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.