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Over the past three decades, skyrocketing numbers of women have chosen to start their families in their late thirties and early forties. In 2005, ten times as many women had their first child between the ages of 35 and 39 as in 1975, and thirteen times as many had their first between 40 and 44. Women now have the option to define for themselves when they’re ready for family, rather than sticking to a schedule set by social convention. As a society, however, we have yet to come to terms with the phenomenon of ...
Over the past three decades, skyrocketing numbers of women have chosen to start their families in their late thirties and early forties. In 2005, ten times as many women had their first child between the ages of 35 and 39 as in 1975, and thirteen times as many had their first between 40 and 44. Women now have the option to define for themselves when they’re ready for family, rather than sticking to a schedule set by social convention. As a society, however, we have yet to come to terms with the phenomenon of later motherhood, and women who decide it makes sense for them to delay pregnancy often find themselves confronted with alarmist warnings about the dangers of waiting too long.In Ready, Elizabeth Gregory tracks the burgeoning trend of new later motherhood and demonstrates that for many women today, waiting for family works best. She provides compelling evidence of the benefits of having children later--by birth or by adoption. Gregory reveals that large numbers of women succeed in having children between 35 and 44 by the usual means (one in seven kids born today has a mom in that age range), and that many of those who don’t succeed nonetheless find alternate routes to happy families via egg donation or adoption. And they’re glad they waited. Without ignoring the complexities that older women may face in their quest to have children, Gregory reveals the many advantages of waiting: Stronger family focus: Having achieved many of their personal and career goals, new later moms feel ready to focus on family rather than trying to juggle priorities More financial power: New later moms have established careers and make higher salaries Greater self-confidence: New later moms have more career experience, and their management skills translate directly into managing a household and advocating for their children More stable single-parenting: New later moms who are single have more resources High marriage rate: On average, 85 percent of new later moms are married, lending stability to the family structure Longer lives: Evidence indicates that new later moms actually live longer than moms who start their families earlier Based on in-depth interviews with more than 100 new later moms and extensive collateral research, Ready shatters the myths surrounding later motherhood. Drawing on both the statistical evidence and the voices of the new later mothers themselves, Gregory delivers surprising and welcome news that will revolutionize the way we think about motherhood.
In this upbeat, sometimes self-congratulatory book, University of Houston professor Gregory looks at the benefits of waiting until later in life to have children. Recent front-page studies citing a rise in infertility have instilled a sense of emergency in women who put off having children until they have established careers and chosen the right father-or perhaps eschewed the need for one. Gregory's palliative, informative study of 113 mothers between the ages of 35 and 56 (she doesn't share where they live, one failing of this work) reveals the rational motivations on the part of these mostly well-educated, professional women for waiting, as well as their varying success in getting pregnant. Married moms, single moms, gay moms, moms who had a baby by nature or with the help of technology or adoption-Gregory shares her happy discovery that most of these "new later moms" felt positive about their choices. Some of the reasons they cite in interviews include bringing more financial power and education to the nest, creating a strong family focus and the likelihood of a stable, "peer" marriage, enjoying a longer life expectancy and a general sense of self-confidence younger mothers may lack. Helpfully, Gregory debunks a lot of the hysterical statistics surrounding infertility and dispenses the wealth of pregnancy and adoption offerings with equanimity and good cheer. (Jan.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Preface to the Paperback Edition xi
Introduction: Ready? 1
1 Waiting: The Backstory 15
• Working Mom, Circa 1922
• The Nexus of Change
• Birth Control-"The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Children"?
• Education: "The Neglected Education of My Fellow Creatures Is the Grand Source of the Misery I Deplore"
2 Ready: Willing and Able 37
3 Moms in the Workplace: The Benefits of Age 53
• Higher Wages
• The Clout Effect
• The Benefits of Age
• The Trickle Up
• Work/Life Balance and the Flextime Movement
• What Is Part Time?
• Small-Business Moms
• Making Work Choices around Family
4 Moms at Home: When Is a Job Not a Job? 97
• What Is a Stay-at-Home Mom?
• The Stay-at-Home New Later Mom: What's the Difference?
• Deciding to Stay Home
• Changing Gears
• Stay-at-Home Moms and the Clut Effect
• Revaluing Women's Work
5 All in the Family: Changing the Ways We Live and Love 129
• The New Traditionalists
• Peer Marriage
• The Older Woman
• Gay Moms
• Divorce, New Later Motherhood Style
• New Later Single Moms
• Only Children
6 Sarah Laughed: Who's Fertile and How 171
• Ball of Confusion
• What Are My Odds?
• Where Did We Get Those Odds?
• What about Fertility Tech?
• Counting Up: Who's Fertile Later?
• Non-Age-Based Infertility
• Is Infertility on the Rise?
• Proactive Fertility
• Miscarriage and Multiples
• Fertility Ethics
• How Old Is Too Old?
• Future Tech
7 Adoption: Expanding the Borders of Family 211
• The Adoption Options
• Domestic Foster Care
• Transracial Adoption
• Private Adoption
• International Adoption
• Gay Adoption
8 Fifty Is the New Thirty? Health, Looks, Evolution, and the New Line of Later Moms 239
• Longer Life Expectancy
• Health Issues
• Looking Good
• Sandwiched: Between Elder Care and Kid Care
• Sandwiched? The Next Generation
• Evolution Now: Grand/Mothering
Epilogue: Readiness Matters 257
Appendix A Who's in the Study 267
Appendix B Work Status Data 269
For Further Reading 275