Are we too old to have kids ?
April 17, 2007 1:16 PM   Subscribe

I am 36 years old. My wife is 33 years old. We got married recently. Are we too old to have kids ? I feel age is not on our side. We are doing healthwise and finanically good.
posted by tom123 to Health & Fitness (70 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My parents had me when they were both 37, and that was in 1979. So, nowadays I think it's totally fine. Growing up my parents were a bit older, for sure, but it wasn't so weird that NO other kids had parents the same age as mine.

Go for it! Reproduce!
posted by sneakin at 1:19 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents were 45 when I was born. They had other kids at the time, the youngest of which was 14. 33 and 36 are not to old.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:19 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents were 37 (mom) and 36 (dad) when I was born. I don't think you're too old. If anything, I think I've kept my mother young. (My dad died of a fluke-ish brain tumor before age 40.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2007

Most of my friends who have kids started around your age, or later.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2007

If your are in good health, it's certainly not too late. I don't think that at the ages you mention there are serious medical counter-indications. My wife and I had our first (and only) kid at 40 and 35 (respectively). We certainly don't regret it. In fact, I think that there's is a lot to be said about having kids in your more "mature and stable" years. Go for it! (if that's what you want).
posted by bluefrog at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2007

I have neighbors who just had a child - he is 48 and she is 36. Also, middle-aged parents are so common in the schools now that nobody gives it a second thought.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2007

My Dad was 35 when my younger sister was born.

There's still time to get them out of the house before you're 60. You have financial resources and life experience younger parents would envy. You're not even really old, as old parents go.

If you want to have kids, this is no reason not to.

Forgive me if I'm doing you wrong, but maybe you have cold feet about the idea and are looking for reasons? "I don't want to" is the best reason you could have. Again, please forgive my leaping to no-doubt unwarranted conclusions.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:27 PM on April 17, 2007

My Dad just had a son with his new wife. He is 59, so you're certainly not too old! Go for it!
posted by caek at 1:28 PM on April 17, 2007

Mrs. Plinth was 32 for our first and 36 for our second. No, you are not too old.
posted by plinth at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2007

Many of my friends have parents in their fifties (meaning they were born when their parents where 30-35). There are a lot of pros to having kids while you're 30 - it might be easier to save up money for college, for example.
posted by muddgirl at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2007

Definitely not too old. In fact, it's the average age for my family - both sides - for at least 4 generations. The kids in my daughter's class who tend to do better and have more stable lives come from older parents. You will hardly be alone.
posted by clarkstonian at 1:35 PM on April 17, 2007

My aunt & uncle had their first kid at about your ages, and now they are in their early 40s and have three. Also, my grandparents had my aunt when my grandma ws 42 and my grandfather was 50. (Granted, she was the last of six, but still). Go for it!
posted by sutel at 1:36 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents were 33 when they had me and 36 when they had my sister. They were slightly older than my friends' parents on average, but nothing you'd really notice unless you knew, and they certainly weren't the oldest either. Both my sister and I have graduated from college, and my parents both retired early and, yes, have been able to enjoy life with grown-up kids.

A friend's mom was on the young side when she had him (24) and on the older side (about 40) when she had his surprise youngest brother. She once said to me, "I have loved being a young mother and I have loved being an older mother, but, don't do both."
posted by Airhen at 1:38 PM on April 17, 2007

posted by OmieWise at 1:39 PM on April 17, 2007

I realised that I was too old at 33. I looked at my life and what it would mean to embark on five years of sleepless nights, paying for daycare, putting my child into daycare at 6 months of age, moving to a smaller & cheaper apartment and giving up on saving for the future.

I also thought that if I had a handicapped child that I would want to be able-bodied well into my child's adulthood.

These things would have been much smaller issues if I'd started having a child at 19, like my mother; alternatively, if I'd had lots of money to pay for a nanny and/or work part time - enough money to ensure that any handicapped child would be well provided-for. Neither was the case.

If you have money, you aren't too old unless you feel too old. If you don't have money, the story might be different.

And like Joe's Spleen said, you don't have to be too old to not want to. There are lots of reasons to not want to... including not wanting to.
posted by kika at 1:39 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

My 40 year old friend just gave birth to her first child, a totally healthy little boy. Go for it!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:41 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

my grandmother was 33 when she married and 34 when she bore my mother. Her last child came when she was 40. Now, she is 94 and a great-grandmother. She was also a spy for the Belgians and a radio host in the Congo before she got married. I don't think she ever regreted waiting to have children.
posted by parmanparman at 1:42 PM on April 17, 2007

Where I live, you'd be totally normal. At 31, I was a young-ish mom in my parent-infant group.
posted by acoutu at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents had me when they were 30. I'm the eldest of three sons, and they were born when my parents were 33 and 36. You are not too old, in the slightest.
posted by Xoder at 1:53 PM on April 17, 2007

If you want kids, have some kids.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:54 PM on April 17, 2007

The wife and I had our little lurker when we were both 33. he turned out fine and we're okay, too. Now we're 35 and thinking about #2.
posted by mds35 at 1:57 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Naw, you're a fine age to have kids. Good luck!
posted by theora55 at 2:00 PM on April 17, 2007

I'm 34 and considering it, though my girlfriend wants to wait a year or two. I have some friends who are having children at this age, so I think it's fine. Never occurred to me to ask any of them if they felt too old. I do feel a bit old though. I would have preferred to have kids when I was 26 or so, but... what can you do? Life doesn't give you everything you want just like you want it.
posted by xammerboy at 2:01 PM on April 17, 2007

Absolutely not too old. The catch, however, is how long do you want to be married before having kids? I was married for ten years before having my first child. That's a bit on the long side, but it certainly gave us plenty of time to get past the honeymoon stage and into the whose turn is it to do the dishes stage. If you're not at that stage yet, then adding diapers, bottles and daycare pick-up to your schedule can be tough on a marriage.

Even if you waited five years, you would probably still not be the oldest parents in lamaze class. Especially with so many people having second (and third) marriages. Just make sure you save up some money in case you need fertility help.
posted by saffry at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2007

As long as it is still physically possible, you are never too old for kids. They are worth it and will keep you young.

I'm 40 and have boys 7 and 4. Would love to try for a girl....wife says not a chance. May adopt one... GOOD LUCK!
posted by HyperBlue at 2:07 PM on April 17, 2007

Another vote for 'go for it!'

Good luck!
posted by spark at 2:10 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents were both 35 for me and 37 for my brother. Thumbs up!
posted by amileighs at 2:14 PM on April 17, 2007

Average Child Birth Age

I guess it really depends on where you live.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:16 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am in my mid-30s and just had a pre-pre-natal workup. Perhaps one of these would put your mind at ease? The doctor will discuss any necessary lifestyle changes and whether or not pre-existing health problems or weight gain would be a factor in a healthy pregnancy. (I got a green light to go ahead without making changes, incidentally.)
posted by xo at 2:18 PM on April 17, 2007

There is a chance of reduced fertility, and some disorders become more likely for children of older mothers, but at your age, that's not overly of concern.

The real question is - how are you likely to cope with a few years of no sleep? Financially? Mentally? Physically?

Personally, I'll be making that call when I turn 30.
posted by ysabet at 2:20 PM on April 17, 2007

I am the eldest child of older parents (my mom was 31, my dad was 41) when I was born. You are absolutely not too old, but if I may make one suggestion? Please have mortgage and life insurance. Just in case. My dad died of cancer when I was 15 and we lost our house. I tend to think older parents can better afford that sort of thing, anyway.

But in the main, having older parents was a good thing. More money, more time, more patience.
posted by astruc at 2:22 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents had me when my mom was 38 and my dad 34. I turned out just fine. I turned out at least as good if not better than my older brother who my parents had when they were 30 & 26, respectively. ;-)
posted by tastybrains at 2:30 PM on April 17, 2007

My sister had her third child at 40 (and her first at 35). Several friends of mine have had children in their 40s. My boyfriend's dad was 51 when he was born.

Assuming you're in good health (as you say), you and your wife could have a decade or more of childbearing years ahead of you. It's more common than ever to start having children in your mid-30s.
posted by scody at 2:37 PM on April 17, 2007

That's about the age my parents were when I was born (only child). My dad's mom was even older when he was born (he's the youngest & his oldest sibling is something like 20 years older), which leads to some people going "Your grandmother was born WHEN?" but other than that is OK.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:41 PM on April 17, 2007

You may hear a few things about a study citing an increase in autism amongst children born to parents over 40:, but I suggest you look at the study itself instead of the news items (I don't have a link/cite this info is from my crib notes - I think the study is in the Archive of General Psychiatry. ) - The sample sizes are really strange/skewed:

Father's age: sample size: 1 autistic child out of....
15-29 : 60,654 : 1784
30-39 : 67,211 : 1084
40-49 : 4,106 : 316
50+ : 190 : 190

I've got a lot of theories about the number skew that don't necessarily imply crookedness (Israel's median population age is 29, for example (By comparison, the US's is 35 and Liberia's is 18) ) - But I think a study that relies on one datapoint for an entire catagory is kind of weak.
posted by Orb2069 at 2:43 PM on April 17, 2007

My parents were about that age when they had me, and I turned out fine (for the most part!).
posted by divabat at 2:46 PM on April 17, 2007

If you are looking at "physiological" age issues you have nothing to worry about statistically. For women who will be 35 or older at the time of birth, amniocentesis or other peri-natal genetic screening tests are recommended to test for birth defects whose incidence increases with the age of the mother. 35 should not be seen at all as a cutoff but rather an age where prospective moms may want to seek out more information about the health of the fetus. Older prospective parents may also see some delay in conception (but a lot of this may actually be due simply to the stress of trying to get pregnant).

There are no real guidelines regarding the physiological age of the father (this has to do with the fact that women are actually born with all of their eggs, while men regenerate sperm all their lives) although there are some new reports that men over 40 are slighty more likely to father children with autism. Given that we know very little about the cause of autism this is to be taken accordingly.

As for "mental" fitness and energetics required for childrearing - that is entirely up to you two as individuals and probably has little to do with age in the long run. Many folks might argue that you are the perfect age for kids - probably more financially stable than you were in your early 20's, more likely to seek out high quality prenatal care, etc.

Best of luck with whatever your decision might be.
posted by rosebengal at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2007

Anecdotally, my parents were 35 (mother) and 45 (father) when I was born. Sure, it isn't always the most common thing, but I think I'm better for it in a lot of ways, in terms of my parents knowing a few things about life before they had to deal with a kid. I wouldn't change it, if I had the chance.
posted by Alterscape at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2007

have a baby!
posted by ZackTM at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2007

Got you all beat:
I'm 44. My wife is 44.
We are the proud parents of a happy and healthy 7-month-old.
Don't delay joy!
posted by Dizzy at 2:54 PM on April 17, 2007

I'm sure that I've read that 28 is the average age for a Canadian woman to have her first child, so 33 is definitely not old.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:54 PM on April 17, 2007

You're definitely not too old--about my parents age--and in fact waiting is probably not the best idea given your wife's chances of decreased fertility as she gets older. If you're dead set on producing your own genetic offspring, you're best off doing it sooner rather than later and avoiding the need for fertility treatments.
posted by Anonymous at 3:01 PM on April 17, 2007

My mother was 34 (this was back in 1980) and my father was 48 when I was born. Yes it was a tad odd that my parents were older than everyone elses, but I'm perfectly healthy. If you're concerned about the medical risks posed to the baby while in utero, due to your age, I'm sure a doctor can explain them plainly and also assure you that you are well within a common age range for couples conceiving these days.
posted by Asherah at 3:03 PM on April 17, 2007

It is very common - there are a lot of who specialize in over-35 births. Our neighbors just had a baby boy, and she is 38.
posted by chundo at 3:06 PM on April 17, 2007

My dad was 48 when I was born. Mom was 31. And I have a younger sister (older one, too). We're all healthy and terrifically happy.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:23 PM on April 17, 2007

I read somewhere that "average age" statistics are heavily skewed to the youngish due to teenage pregnancies. The whole hormones raging thing.

I asked a teacher friend of ours how many older parents (over 35) she had in her school and she said, "Oh! Too many to count." That's my observation as well. Many people are waiting to start families.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 3:24 PM on April 17, 2007

My husband and I had our baby boy last year at the very advanced ages of 46 (him) and 44 (me). We had a lot of prenatal testing and while we were told it wouldn't guarantee a healthy baby, we were able to rule out a lot of age-related possible problems. The big thing for us was, we both wanted kids very much and the fact that we'd only recently become a couple just meant we'd become parents sooner than we might have had we met ten years earlier.

The trick is, don't start calculating how old you'll be when your kids are in high school and so on. I know I'll be 60 when Jack is in 11th grade but you know what? I'd be 60 then anyway and I'd hate to have missed out on what's been the most rewarding and pleasurable experience of my life, just because I thought I was too old. I'm not.

I know for Jack there might be drawbacks to having older parents but there are advantages too. We're both a lot wiser than we were 15 years ago and we're mellower. I had a great career in network television news and I'm pretty happy to move on to the next stage in life and devote myself to parenting for a few years. I believe you can have it all, just not necessarily all at once. Jack's dad might not be as quick on the baseball diamond as he used to be but he's looking forward to lots of games of catch and to teaching our son about cars, boats, and girls. Some things transcend chronological age.

If you want to have kids, go for it. I highly recommend the experience.
posted by Kangaroo at 3:27 PM on April 17, 2007

Your age isn't a problem. Your wife's might be, slightly, but plenty of women have babies at 36. Me, for instance (just about to start my second trimester, although this isn't my first) and lots of others in this thread. However, if you do want kids, you don't want to wait. You most likely have a good chance of getting pregnant now and having a healthy baby, but the longer you wait, the more fertility gradually declines and genetic risks creep up. If you can, it might be good for both of you to have a fertility workup to see what challenges you might be facing, if any. You can also just start trying on your own, but if you try for six months without pregnancy, seek medical advice.

There's this perception that older mothers are a modern thing, but really, they aren't. Back in the days before reliable birth control, it was commonplace. My grandmother even had a baby at 37 in the 1950's, and everything turned out fine, even though her doctors were terribly dire about it.
posted by Shoeburyness at 4:07 PM on April 17, 2007

If you want to have kids, then go ahead. You are not too old at all. I am 35 and due to give birth in around 6 weeks. My Dad was 40 when I was born.
posted by Joh at 4:09 PM on April 17, 2007

I was 40 and my wife 42 when our last son was born. He is in the first grade now and is the apple of my eye.
posted by LarryC at 4:17 PM on April 17, 2007

I just had my first 3 months before I turned 40. I wondered if I was too old. It took me a month to get pregnant (which floored me, I expected it to take a year or more). I was kind of "eh" about whether or not I would get pregnant. If we hadn't been successful, I wasn't going to be devestated. But I thought it would be nice if we had one and I wanted to try before 40.

My kid didn't sleep more than 3 hours in a row until 11 months.

I love it WAY more than I thought I would. Seriously. She is great and my life is different in a way I couldn't have imagined. In a good way. Even with no sleep and nursing problems and perinatal depression and the rest of it, I would do it all over again. This morning when she crowed "hello! hello! hello!" from her crib, I laughed out loud. Right now she is dancing in front of a mirror and cracking up at herself.

So, yeah. If you want one, you're SO NOT too old. I am way more patient and centered as a parent than I ever would have been at 33, so there are no regrets.
posted by jeanmari at 4:17 PM on April 17, 2007

The biggest issue is going to be how strong your countenance is. Even one kid is going to wear you both down and you probably won't be getting much sleep for at least a few years. A good family support network will help to lessen the strain but it will age you.
posted by JJ86 at 5:17 PM on April 17, 2007

Don't underestimate the sleepless nights. I had #1 at 33, and #2 at 36. A friend in a similar situation said, "I can't believe we used to be able to stay up all night. And we wasted it on COLLEGE."

Definitely do have the kids, but be sure to line up friends and relatives as babysitters so you can rest, because you will need too. Also, your wife should be sure to get the best nutrition possible, since having a baby is pretty physically draining. Fish oil supplements were a lifesaver for me.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:20 PM on April 17, 2007

What issues are you concerned about? Having kids at your age is pretty much the norm now. Go for it.
posted by lemur at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2007

No, you are not too old to have kids.
posted by robcorr at 6:59 PM on April 17, 2007

I'm 36, my wife's 30, and she's 5 months pregnant.
posted by signal at 7:23 PM on April 17, 2007

Medically, you are not too old to have children.

Socially, you are not too old to have children.

There is some slight increased risk for mothers over 30, but nothing modern medicine hasn't conquered long ago. I would not recommend midwifery or birth-at-home scenarios, although there are legions who would disagree with me.

Get pregnant, do the FULL BATTERY of prenatal care (wise advice at ANY age), deliver at a hospital, and in all likelihood your experience will be like most others.

Risks grow dramatically after 40, so I would encourage you to not wait till then.

You could easily have 2 children, even 3, before she hits 40, provided no problems conceiving.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:29 PM on April 17, 2007

Talk to your doctors, now while you're still considering.

I'm 33 (F), recently married to a 38-year-old (M), and we're still on the fence about sprogging. Right after the wedding, we both had stem-to-stern physicals and all the tests they can possibly poke a healthy person with. We told the doctors that we aren't yet sure but might want to get pregnant some day, and asked for best- and worst-case scenarios for 30-something parents.

Then every year at our respective check-ups, we say, "Yep, still thinking about it... nope, still not decided, anything new we need to keep in mind?" Occasionally one of them will relate a health/lifestyle bit that might be helpful to know.

Long story short, all the anecdotal evidence in the world won't matter if either of you have a health factor that changes your particular circumstance... plus, let's face it, fecundity is affected most by how long the eggs stay fresh, not how long the sperm can swim. When the ob-gyn snaps off the gloves and tells your wife, "Fuhgeddaboutit, you've still got loads of time," it will bring peace of mind to her ovaries that cannot be had from Dr. Internets.
posted by pineapple at 7:55 PM on April 17, 2007

You are not too old, but seriously why not just enjoy being with each other? Children leave.
posted by oh posey at 8:02 PM on April 17, 2007

If my parents or grandparents had thought that they were too old to have children at your ages, I wouldn't be here. I much prefer being here to not.
posted by amro at 8:04 PM on April 17, 2007

I was born to a 39 year old woman.
posted by koshka at 8:28 PM on April 17, 2007

Likewise. My mom had me when she was 40.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:35 PM on April 17, 2007

It's worth noting the "oh my God! FIVE YEARS of sleepless nights" thing is beyond worst case scenario. My 2.5 year old has been sleeping 10-12 hours a night since before his first birthday. Child rearing is demanding but it's hardly debilitating for the mid-thirties. And you know, it isn't necessary to have 5.
posted by nanojath at 9:01 PM on April 17, 2007

Go for it. My mom had a child at 37. Her second, granted, so there were less chances of complications, but it went pretty smoothly. Sometimes having kids at a later age is good, as you can provide them with more stability in terms of living location, funding, etc., but as mentioned, keep in mind the decreasing fertility as a woman gets older.
posted by Phire at 9:01 PM on April 17, 2007

The traditional and still conventional assumption is that the burden of increasing likliehood of birth defects proportional to age falls entirely on the mother. There are recent studies that indicate this isn't true, however, and that the father's age is also a significant factor. Basically, conventional wisdom related to the differences in reproductive biology that is mentioned in a previous comment meant that no one bothered to look for fathers' possible contribution to genetic abnormalities. Anyway, IIRC, the numbers don't really start to go up until the late thirties and into the forties, as is also the case with women. So now might be a good time for you and your spouse to have a child, rather than waiting until later.

And being in your fifites when your child comes of age is pretty ideal, if you ask me. I'd still like to have a child (most likely by adoption) and I'm 42—I worry that I'd be pushing it in this sense.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2007

These days it is common enough. However, my dad was 35 when I was born. That means he was in late 40's when I hit puberty. Ouch! The last thing he needed at that time of his life was a teenage son.

Mind you, this was 1970, a time when the legendary "generation gap" was possibly more obvious than ever before . I don't think it's been that bad since, but I'm no judge, I only say "I'm oldl" as often as I do because otherwise, I'd forget. (my partner is nearly a generation younger than myself).
posted by Goofyy at 11:51 PM on April 17, 2007

Wait. There's even a possibility that 33 is considered too old?

My mom was nearly 41 and my dad nearly 51 when they had my sister and me. I'm 23 and I desperately want children, but I'd wait until I was 35-plus if I could. The only reason I'll have them younger is because my mom and dad are so damn old, and I want them to know their grandchildren.

So, I guess that's sort of a drawback, too.
posted by granted at 12:23 AM on April 18, 2007

My husband was 36 when our 1st was born. I was 32. We now have 3 children, all about 3 years apart in age.

The one and only drawback, in our opinion, is that we will not have as many years as we could have with grandchildren - though this is perhaps mitigated by an increase in life-expectancy and better medical advances/health care options.

We have tons of patience, better finances than at 20yo, good health and energy, we aren't 'out-dated' in our thinking, and it's perfectly normal/average in our social circle to be parents of young children at our age.

I cannot imagine having had a teenager when I was 35yo.
posted by LadyBonita at 7:15 AM on April 18, 2007

It's worth noting the "oh my God! FIVE YEARS of sleepless nights" thing is beyond worst case scenario.

Um, no. The sleeplessness starts in the 2nd trimester. Most kids get up some time in the middle of the night till they are 2 or so. If you have more than one, then there's another pregnancy to get through. So even though the first child may be finally sleeping through the night before the second is born, you still have 9 months of a pissed off pregnant woman sleeping next to you. We are cranky and like company - you will get woken up.

It's nice that nanojath's child is an unusually good sleeper, but unless you have some sort of guarantee that you're going to get one of those, then it is realistic to plan for five years of sleepless nights.

Full disclosure - my 8 month old has had enough earaches that the doctors are starting to talk about tubes. This means an unholy amount of night waking. I am less than objective this morning.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:34 AM on April 18, 2007

Actually I don't even see how it's a question since most of my friends had kids at your age. (Ironic that I'm the non-mom since I've always loved kids and most of my friends weren't too big on them.) I figure at some point I'll probably adopt but so far I've just been... busy. And I didn't feel like LA was a place to raise kids.

selfmedicating, I just had those tubes put into my own ears due to eustachian tube dysfunction. They're honestly no big deal, they will relieve a lot of the pressure. A lot of kids have to get them. It's just an in-office visit for the most part, unless your kids are easily agitated then they don't need to put them under or anything. Having the tubes implanted honestly didn't hurt during or after. It's more just the act of having some doctor hovering over you and sticking stuff in your ear that's freaky. Not painful at all.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:03 AM on April 18, 2007

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