When we learned of Elizabeth Edwards' death last week at the age of 61, it was so sad. The coverage of her funeral brought tears to the eyes. One reason was because of the images of her beautiful children; Cate, who's 28, Jack, 10, and Emma Claire, 12. If you have a heart, it ached for those kids.
But to me it raised, again, the question of how old is too old to have a baby. These days, with IVF, donor eggs, and surrogacy, the finish line for the childbearing years has been extended indefinitely. Elizabeth Edwards had her younger two children at 48 and 50 and she's hardly unusual in doing so. And of course, men have children into their 60s and beyond all the time.
But maybe just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
Look at the younger two Edwards children: those two little children have to live their whole lives without their mother. Think about that: At 12 and 10 years old, they have to navigate junior high, choosing a college, graduations, and their own weddings and childbirth without their mom's comfort and love.
That could happen to anyone, of course; cancer and car accidents, just to name two, can strike without warning and take people in their prime. But having children in your late 40s and 50s, or even older, tips the odds toward your not being able to be there to see them grow up.
Even if you live to a ripe old age in relative health and financial security, you're still consigning your children to worry about you just as they are launching themselves into the world. I'm not sure that's fair, just because you want another baby.
What do you think? How old is too old to have a child?
Image via Tony the Misfit/Flickr