Ask Mary: I'm in my late 40s and really want a baby
I'm in my late 40s and really want a baby, but my friends think I'm too oldI'm a 48-year-old woman and I'm aching to have a child. My long-term relationship broke up three years ago. I hoped that I would meet someone else, but that hasn't happened.
Now, I feel as if time is ticking away and that I should take steps to have a baby on my own. I've looked into assisted fertility and have spoken to a lot of friends who have promised their support.
Others tell me I'm mad, as I will turn 49 in the summer. They point out that I'll be hitting 70 on my child's 21st birthday, but I think I have an awful lot to offer a child – plus, 70 isn't what it once was.
I do have nieces and nephews, and love having them in my life, but I so want to have a child of my own. I've had tests done and I think I'm still fertile, so now is my only chance. Am I being very selfish?
'I agree fully with you that 70 is not what it once was, but you will still have aches and pains that you did not have when you were 50'
You say that you are aching to have a child – there are many people who have that type of feeling. However, your case is different, and I want to give you some practical advice that you must take into account if you intend to go down the road of assisted fertility.
First, there is the question of your age. I hate being ageist, but in the case of having a baby it is an issue that I must address.
You are 48, and by the time you have a baby you would be at least 49. You might still be fertile, but for women over 35, and certainly for women over 40, there is an increase in the chances of having a baby with a medical difficulty.
I know people will say, 'Oh, I know a woman who had a baby when she was 45 and everything was okay'.
Indeed, I remember reading that Cherie Blair was 45 when she had her last child, then got pregnant again but miscarried when she was 47. In my mind, these are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Back to you, Niamh. The first thing you must do is see your GP. Leaving aside their views on assisted fertility, all I am asking is that you would talk to them about having a baby at your age and any worries about the well-being of the baby when born. It is better to take medical advice on that matter.
The second thing that I would urge you to do is to talk to a solicitor. There are many areas of legal uncertainty around assisted fertility and the babies born from this process. It is important that you seek legal advice on the matter.
I urge you to do this because all will be lovely when you have a cuddly baby in your arms, but babies grow up, and it is often then that legal issues arise.
I know your friends have promised their support for when your baby comes, and I apologise if I sound sceptical, but some of those friends will be very quick to melt away if any difficulties arise.
I agree fully with you that 70 is not what it once was, but you will still have aches and pains that you did not have when you were 50.
I know I sound doubtful about the whole idea, but I am not doubtful about your wish to have a child or to go the assisted-fertility route.
What I am certain of is that you will have to get clear medical and legal advice before you take on this responsibility.