Giving Birth at 56: Should Age be Factor in IVF Candidacy?

no longer at the mercy of our ticking internal clock

Giving Birth at 56: Should Age be Factor in IVF Candidacy?

Just when most of us would be gearing up to dote on a first grandchild, a 56-year-old Toronto woman we'll call "Tessa" became a mom again. Even though she already had three grown children of her own, the single mom underwent IVF using both eggs and sperm from donors.

Invoking expertise from fertility lawyers and agencies, the process was far from straightforward, yet 26 years after her last pregnancy, Tessa welcomed a healthy baby boy. And she wants women like her to know it's possible to become a mom late in the game.

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If Stats Canada is anything to go by, more older women are having babies, with a 75 per cent jump in those between 40-44 and 150 per cent for those between 45-49.

Of course, just because it's possible doesn't mean it comes easy or cheap. The total cost of Tessa's designer baby is said to be around $48,500, so for many women this option remains off the shelf.

OHIP in Ontario currently covers three rounds of IVF for women with blocked Fallopian tubes. A single round costs around $10,000 in the province, and may soon be publicly covered for all women. In Quebec, there is a proposed funding block on IVF for women over the age of 42. A decision that seems tough but fair.

Aside from cost implications on an already burdened health care system, women like Tessa face criticism because their advanced age would likely prevent them from raising their children into adulthood. (Tessa would be 70 by the time her son hit 14.)

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In Tessa's case, the decision wasn't arrived at lightly. She was fitter and healthier than most women her age, and her daughter has already agreed to raise her son in her absence.

“I wasn’t worried," said the 26-year-old pediatric resident. "I thought if anyone could do it in her 50s, it was my mom. She’s always seemed young.”

Tessa herself says her son is “the most loved and hoped for baby in the world.”

Many men become fathers in their twilight years, so what's the difference? Society struggles to shake off double standards about older moms.

A woman can do what she likes with her body, and it seems now, finally, we are no longer at the mercy of our ticking internal clock.

The fact that we have found ways to trick and manipulate biology doesn't follow that it's the most sound move. Although Tessa's decision is not one I can readily comprehend, ultimately it is hers to make.



When NOT to Let Your Kids Use the iPad

Devices and tablets are Weapons of mass distraction

When NOT to Let Your Kids Use the iPad

iPads aren't evil. They are nifty little gadgets, I think we can all agree. After all, tablets have saved many travelling parents from descending into outright madness. It's a fact.

Yet the key may not lie solely in moderation as it does in strategic timing.

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New research suggests that using tablets to pacify our kids could inadvertently be hurting our kids' emotional development. When you pass the iPad to stop your child from screaming the house down, in effect what you are doing is stunting their ability to manage and regulate their emotions.

So what may seem like a handy and effective distraction in the short term is robbing our kids of a crucial learning curve in the long run. 

Think about the last time you feel upset. You probably distracted yourself by Facebook surfing or by obsessive scouring (when she's pissed, my friend's stove sparkles!) But unlike our kids, we are mature enough to return to our emotional processing after these numbing tasks. 

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Kids haven't yet developed those emotional muscles. They have to learn to sort out the big feelings without "masking them with distracting programs or games." So say researchers at Boston University School of Medicine.

"It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child's development of language and social skills," said Dr Jenny Radesky, Boston University's clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioural Pediatrics. "Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction."

And when you have a child with autism, as I have, those human-human interactions are like gold dust.

So the consensus is this: while some educational apps are amazing for kids (preschool and older), using iPads as tools of distraction can be detrimental to social and emotional development. They are best played interactively with parents and friends, or at designated times.

"Heavy device use during young childhood could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play and interacting with friends," said Dr Radesky.

Occupational therapists even suggest that excessive tablet time could wreak havoc on children's physical development, affecting fine-motor skills.

While some studies seem designed to scaremonger, perhaps some of us need to be a little scared. I know firsthand how easy and convenient it is to hand over the iPad every time I need to get something done...

No denying it, tablets are a great tool, but only if we use them right. And it's up to us to make sure our kids are using them right.


Could These be the Greatest Love Letters of All Time?

Famous Guys who put The Man in Romance

Could These be the Greatest Love Letters of All Time?

If you thought Shakespeare was the only dude with a knack for writing about love, you'd be wrong. The love letter is not dead, only dormant. Sometimes the most heart-melting missives are penned by people you'd never suspect.

Take this beauty from 1994, voted the greatest love letter of all time in a poll:

"Happy Birthday Princess," the letter reads. "We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others (sic) minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.

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But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much."

Any guesses? The letter was actually written by Johnny Cash to the love of his life, June Carter, on the occasion of her 65th birthday. The pair were together for more than 30 years and died just four months apart. What I love most about the letter is its realism.

It's not all lust and sunsets. It's someone reflecting on real life and what it means to grow with another person over the years...

Some other contenders were more obvious choices—like poet John Keats and novelist Ernest Hemingway:

  • "My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you / I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again / my Life seems to stop there / I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving / I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you."
    John Keats to Fanny Brawne (1819)
  • "I can't say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home. Nor too many things. But we were always cheerful and jokers together."
    Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich (1951)
  • "Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart."
    Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine de Beauharnais (1796)
  • "My blind eyes are desperately waiting for the sight of you. You don't realize of course, EB, how fascinatingly beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness."
    Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor (1964)

Care to share: What was the most romantic thing anyone has ever said/written to you?