It has been six months since Sangeeta Thakare (48) has watched her favourite saas-bahu serial. Thakare (name changed on request) has given up watching TV serials at night since her baby girl was born.
“My daughter sleeps around 8 pm and then gets up early morning, around 5.30 am. She needs to be bottle-fed, cleaned and then played with as she doesn’t sleep. Hence I have to sleep early,” said the resident of Khar Danda.
This is just one of the many ‘adjustments’ Thakare has had to make.
“I had a group of friends with whom I would go for an evening walk. I have lost all contact since I got pregnant as I stopped going for walks. My husband and I loved going out to movies, shopping malls etc. But all that has stopped now,” said Thakare while her eyes darted to her sleeping daughter.
However her husband was quick to add,“We have no regrets, it’s a sweet pain.”
The Thakares are among a rising number of elderly couples opting to have babies using fertility treatments.
“Increasingly, couples in their late forties and even fifties have come to our clinic. In most cases, they have been childless. Though a few, want another child after a gap of 10-15 years,” said Dr Anjali Malpani, who runs Malpani Fertility Clinic in Colaba.
Most doctors whom Hindustan Times interviewed confirmed the trend and didn’t see anything wrong in women aged over 45 conceiving children. But the question is, where do doctors draw the line? Or should they?
“No one except the couple has a right to decide if they should have a child. If medical reports are fine, we cannot refuse,” said Dr Hrishikesh Pai, infertility expert at Lilavati hospital. (See box)
The couples HT spoke to said they had prepared themselves for all eventualities. Take Bilal and Najma Khan (names changed). The couple from Null Bazaar has even bequeathed their property to their unborn child in a hand-written will.
“We know that we are old and can’t last forever. Maybe one of us will die by the time, our child is of marriageable age. But one will be there at least. To be safe, we have bequeathed our property to the child,” said Bilal (53).
In the case of the Majithias (names changed), who run a jewellery store in Ghatkopar, no amount of health complications can scare them.
“The doctor grilled me. Asked me what if there were complications in pregnancy since I am older, what if child is physically or mentally challenged. I was not worried; God will take care of everything. I have struggled for 20 years for my own child, can’t wait anymore,” said Suman Majithia, (49) who is expecting twins.
Sociologists say that in a society where the average age for marriage has gone up, older parents might not be such a big problem.
“I don’t think acceptance from society is a big problem. In fact a plus point for older parents is that they are usually financially secure and have more time to spend on raising children,” said Kamla Ganesh, head of sociology department, Mumbai University.
However couples in their fifties should exercise some restraint.
“At that age, it is pushing the envelope a bit. Parents have a moral responsibility to be there at least till their children have become mature. Also for children, it could get difficult during schooling years if their parents were their friends’ grandparents age,” added Ganesh.