Question Submitted: How do you respond to a woman who is nearing the age of 50 (and her husband is over 50) and hasn’t yet reached menopause and wants to be on the pill, because, although she can possibly still bear children, she feels like at her age she would have a hard time raising an infant (and the risk of Down’s Syndrom is big). She has a family and is perfectly content with the way God has blessed them. She doesn’t want to “play God,” but she also feels like God has given her the wisdom to make a decision to have her family remain as it is. How do you respond to this?
This is not the typical kind of question we usually address on this website, but it is great, nonetheless. The answer even applies to childless women like me, for “the righteous [whether barren or blessed] shall live by faith.” However, since I have no personal experience that can offer empathy to the mother of many children, I have invited a much wiser, more articulate friend to respond to this question, one who understands from personal experience both the blessing and the cross that come with this particular line of questioning. Take it away, Rebekah:
This sounds like a question from my future self. 🙂
I am 34. I have six children and am perfectly content with the way God has blessed me. At every age I have had a hard time raising an infant, just not the same hard time.
The conventional human wisdom of our time tells us that when a woman is older, if she’s happy with the family she has, she should quit. Significantly, contemporary human wisdom says out of the other side of its mouth that an older woman who wants more babies has every right to them (at which point all the arguments for having a child at an older age, such as greater maturity and financial stability, get trotted out without irony). But God in his eternal wisdom never saw fit to tell us how many is too many, how risky is too risky, or how old is too old (if the existence of natural menopause is considered an insufficient answer). All God tells us is that children are a blessing–no qualifications or asterisks. It’s not a trick question He gave us to sniff out unsophisticated spirituality.
The hardships that come with, as the medical profession calls it, “advanced maternal age,” are real. As my friends and I age, it has become clear that motherhood does not get easier, especially in terms of its physical demands. I’m not looking forward to it. My end game could mean a baby who needs a lot more help than my others at a time when I feel like I ought to be heading out to pasture rather than buckling down harder than ever. My final years of fertility could bring with them nothing more than anxious uncertainty and an anticlimactic, empty ending I can only recognize as such after the fact. They could bring miscarriages and heartbreaks I can’t really bring myself to think about. Pregnancies, deliveries, and recoveries are almost certainly not going to get easier for me.
Or the God of all mercy and Giver of all good things could give Old Me yet another son or daughter, made in His image, redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ. There’s a very good chance that baby would be perfectly healthy. It’s a risk only He could make me willing to take.