Is 45 Too Old For Donor Eggs? By Marna Gatlin
“You’re kidding, right? Don’t you think you are a little old to be having a baby at your age?” is an accusation often heard by many mothers who become egg donor recipients after 45.
Marna Gatlin, Founder of non-profit group Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) in Oregon, reports that—once people learn that a toddler or youngster is not, in fact, a grandchild, but the child of a woman who has reached her 50s—reactions can be hurtful.
Now 47 and working on an MA in Science, Gatlin had a son via IVF egg donation when she was 38 and believes that society is too quick to “point the finger” and judge women who have a child at 45 or older.
“The majority of the public are okay with women having children up until age 45 – after that, we begin to hear negative comments such as ‘Have you lost your mind?’” says Gatlin.
“I know that older women—especially those over 50—are judged more often when they choose to carry a pregnancy.”
“Society tends to cheer on over-40 women who adopt because they are giving a child a chance for a better life,” she continues, “but it’s utterly ridiculous that those who choose to carry a child are often looked down upon.”
According to Gatlin, PVED has many member mothers who are having their first child after 40 and that the age range runs as high as 58.
“The oldest mom we have right now is a 65 year old mom who had her child when she was 55,” she says. “I can remember that raised a few eyebrows!”
She says that the mother is in “picture perfect health” and runs regularly with her now ten-year-old daughter who doesn’t see anything unusual in having a mom who is old enough to be her grandmother.
When asked if there should be an age limit for egg donor recipients, Gatlin replies: “That’s a loaded question and I don’t think there’s a quick and easy answer.”
“I know a lot of really healthy 50 year olds who can out-run or exercise some unhealthy 35 year olds,” she says.
Despite this, however, Marna Gatlin admits that, at 47, she would not choose to have another child at her age.
“I probably do think there should be an age limit,” she says, “but I think it’s on a case by case basis”.
“Anytime we plan to bring a child into the world and into our families we need to think about the needs of the child and place them first.”
When it comes to egg donor patients, however, it appears that the clinics tend to see the fertility glass as half full when it comes to age.
“For example, if the recipient mother is 48 and the recipient father is 35, then they tend to view the age of the parent as 35, and vice versa,” says Gatlin.
“Typically, egg donor clinics are far more concerned about single mothers, regardless of their age,” she adds.
However, Gatlin suggests that our culture is steeped in outdated stereotypes of what women should be doing at different seasons of their lives—a pattern of thinking that is tough to get out of.
“As we approach the age of 50, society thinks we should be shipping our children off to college, not bringing them into the world,” she says.
In fact, there’s almost an ageist taboo against later life motherhood.
“One of the biggest controversies surrounding moms who are 45+ is the age gap between them and their children,” points out Gatlin.
“The reaction is: ‘Oh my goodness, she’s having a baby at 50? Doesn’t she realize she’s going to be 70 when that child is 20?’”
Gatlin is insistent that this measure of whether or not women in their 40s or 50s should have children is a false one.
“No one knows when they are going to die. Accidents or disease can strike at any time,” warns Gatlin.
“Children are to be raised with love, acceptance, consistency, structure, and integrity – and they should be getting that regardless of the age of their parents.”
“Regardless how old you are, embrace the day, cherish your children and live each day to the fullest as you don’t know if it may be your last.”
Regarding becoming a mother in your 40s or older, Marna Gatlin’s advice is simple and to the point: “Buckle up because you are in for the ride of your life!”
Marna Gatlin, Founder, Parents Via Egg Donation