So thank goodness CNN is finally shining some light on the subject! And not just the subject of women getting older, but of women having babies as they get older. In this magnificently insultingly-titled article, “How scary is having a baby when you’re over 40?” the writers profile Lee Robinson, a 44-year-old woman who became pregnant by accident, and then panicked that she would face some health challenges because of her age.
Fortunately, CNN was there to step in and provide a summary of why not just Robinson, but any woman over the age of 40 should be “scared” about getting pregnant.
And from a health point of view, the concerns are completely legitimate — a greater risk for preeclampsia, down syndrome and chromosomal disorders, to name a few. But the thing is, I’m pretty sure that we ladies do a good enough job of worrying about getting older and the physical changes our bodies go through as we age without CNN chiming in. For God’s sake, the woman that they profiled was damn near panic attacks every day of her pregnancy. The article even goes so far as to re-print a Facebook status:
“[Lee] is battling negative thinking,” she wrote. “Please keep peppering her with ‘healthy, normal babies born to 40-something mothers’ stories because she really needs to hear/read them repeatedly right now.”
Which leads me to my question: if they know that wome facing this dilemma don’t want to read articles like the one they wrote, what purpose does the article serve? If it’s not to provide information that readers don’t already have, then why write it? To encourage women to have babies before they’re ready because otherwise it’s “scary”? (To say nothing of the infantile language…really, CNN? You couldn’t do better than “scary”?) To terrify young women who haven’t yet had kids as well as older women who are considering having kids? To give us yet another reason to fear getting older — because the constant messages about losing our youth and looks, and becoming obsolete in society and in the workforce, just weren’t enough? Or just so you can write an eye-catching headline?
In an unfortunate turn of events for CNN, all turned out well for their subject: “Last week, Robinson gave birth to a healthy boy named Price.” And, they add, “now she and her husband are thinking about having another child, even though she’s 44 years old.”
Oh, is she in her 40’s? You hadn’t mentioned that.
At the end of the article, the authors throw the women reading it a bone by tacking on a section about “the advantages of being an older mom.” Well, here’s one they left out — as an “older” mom, you’ve probably planned for this baby. And that probably means that you’re well aware of the risks you may incur by getting pregnant, and so you likely don’t need to be condescended to by a major media outlet.